Thursday 15 October 2009

recently read

THE TANGLED SKEIN by David Stuart Davies. A Holmes meets Dracula novel. Moderately entertaining, but not half as good as it could have been. It helps to play it in your head as a Hammer film with Peter Cushing (in a double role as Holmes and Van Helsing) and Christopher Lee.

THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler. Very convoluted, very stylish. I was told noir fans tend to be split between Chandler and Hammett. I think I prefer Hammett's terseness, even while I enjoy Chandler's elaborate similes, catchy dialogue and endlessly quotable near-aphorisms. I shall have to wait a while before coming to a definite conclusion about Chandler, however: I've read three novels by Hammett and only one by Chandler.

TWO SERIOUS LADIES by Jane Bowles. Witty, delicately observed, bizarre and more than a little sad. A tale of people driven to live outside the set of possible lives made available to them by their times. Very readable and with a lot of tenderness and humanity beneath its stylish surface, but not quite as sublime as her brilliant, haunting short stories.

MRS. HENDERSON AND OTHER STORIES by Francis Wyndham. A set of short stories, unified by a common narrator, that take us from a British boarding school in the 30s all the way to the post-war era. The tone varies from light reminiscence, tender portraiture, all the way to outright surreal whimsy. Wyndham's language is very precise and not at all given to simile, but with a tendency instead to unique, sideways insights.


priya said...

well i found 'TWO SERIOUS LADIES" amazing .but in the middle its too lagging and i got to skip - two to three pages, and again when the book became thrilling ,i once again went back to the previous pages...i felt its a typical megaserial stuff

JP said...

Some of the passages in Christina's island commune did feel a bit flat after the exoticism of Frieda's adventures in Panama.

I didn't quite understand what you mean by a megaserial.

Jane Bowles' short stories are amazing. I liked them a lot, possibly more than this novel.

priya said...

mega serial means i felt its too lagging.ofcourse i am too a fan of Bowle's ,but this book is not up to the mark!!