Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Kites and Tractors

Long haul journeys to and from Australia have seen an unprecedented volume of reading this month and I therefore find myself ahead of the game for once...

I really enjoyed Kite Runner - I felt it gave a very good insight into the country, it's people and the horror of the Taliban, and I came away feeling I'd really gained something from reading it. This is what I want from this kind of book (and film, incidentally - it's the reason I didn't enjoy Munich - very little insight into why things happened). Yes, it was gruelling in many places, but it had to be really, and at least the book ended with hope (but not a banal everyone living happily ever after). A couple of minor irritances - firstly, I thought they got over the problems of getting Sohrab out to America far too easily - the suicide attempt was a shock and well executed, but I don't think Soraya talking to someone would be enough to magic a visa out of thin air. It felt a bit like the author was in a rush to get to the end by that stage. Irritance number 2 is in agreement with Emily's point - the constant "And I never saw him smile again..." type statements. It gave a horrible feeling of being back with Mr McGregor and his blessed remarkable things. Other than that though, I thought the use of language was often wonderful.

Tractors next - potential spoiler territory...

I enjoyed it - much more lighthearted than Kite Runner - but think the competition for the funniest book award must have been a bit thin that year. Overall, I'm glad I've read it, if only because I was very curious about the title, and have been for a while. It was a bit thin though - the whole "is Valentina staying or going" felt very repetitive by the end, and I also didn't really get a handle on whether or not we were supposed to feel sorry for her. I know that was probably the point - i.e. these things are multi-dimensional and we must consider how the woman got like that - but overall it gave me the impression of confusion. Was she rich in Ukrainia (this is the impression you get at one point) and if so why leave? Or more to the point why stay in UK? All felt a bit silly in parts and I thought there could have been more insight into the country's problems. OK, this would have darkened the book but I think it could have withstood a little darkening. So overall, OK but not brilliant. (Oh, and the writing in accents irritates me - yes, we know they're foreign and speak with an accent, you don't need to ram it down our throats)

Feels like I've been a bit ranty this time! Never mind, will look forward to reading your thoughts as ever.