Tuesday 25 November 2008

The Day Of The Triffids (1962): This movie really should have been a lot better. All the nuance and most of the menace of Wyndham's novel is drained away as a steel-jawed alpha male wanders about saving everyone's ass, incidentally crossing the English Channel by car. That's just the way steel-jawed alpha males who save everybody are! Meanwhile another steel-jawed alpha male, locked in a lighthouse with a screechy blonde wife, discovers a cure to the triffids! Oh, yay! Oh, piffle! The novel is really much better.

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2005). Also should have been a lot better. The author has some nice notions - a delightfuly loopy alternative Mexico/Calfiornia with origami surgeons, mechanical tortoises, a paper woman, a baby prophet and so on and an initially good way of working themes of human loss and suffering into his whimsy. Then it goes all top-heavy with metafictional excess and adolescent angst over losing some chick. Maybe when Plascencia gets over Liz, or whatever she's actually called, and the Catholic church, and his own cleverness, we'll get a really good novel out of him instead of this often magnificent failure.

The Virgin In The Ice by Ellis Peters is just as good as it should be, which is to say, excellent, character-driven comfort food for the traditional mystery lover. Which would be me. I've always enjoyed reading about the 12th-century monk Cadfael's exploits, and it suddenly strikes me that I really ought to get the whole series. It's ideal for a rainy day, or those long, lazy sunday afternoons.

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder was much better than I was expecting, although, to be fair, I really had no idea what to expect. I love the way the author weaves together a Pirsigish journey of a man and his son across Europe, albeit more lucid and wide-ranging, although possibly less original in philosophical content, with a truly weird and wonderful fantasy narrative. You'll never look at the joker in a deck of cards, or indeed, at a deck of cards the same way again. Some would even claim you'll never look at the world the same way again, and this book certainly does infect one with a certain sense of wide-eyed wonder, not without a modicum of critical thinking behind it.

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata is just as good as Snow Country, which is to say brilliant, if a bit shorter.

That is all for now.


banzai cat said...

So would you recommend Plascencia's book despite its failures? :)

JP said...

I'd *suggest* it, certainly, without excessive fanfare, to anyone who likes fiction that takes chances and plays around with reality. I'm not sure I'd call it sublime though.

banzai cat said...

Ah, that's good. Been interested in checking it out but the reviews I'd usually trust have been mixed. Thanks.

JP said...

Yea, and my review is mixed in itself! So: read, with caution. Do not artifically inflate expectations and you will not experience whiplash as they explode and the torn shreds flail about. Buy the trade, or a used copy. All will be well. Much is good. I write fortune cookies in spare time.