Books & Stuff 2/3/23

March 2, 2023

Firstly, Happy World Book Day! Secondly,apologies for being so slow to get a new ‘Books & Stuff’ post out. The ravages of the festive season, temporary technical issues with my website and generally being very busy are all in part responsible for the delay; beyond that, there was a book I really wanted to finish before putting out this post (see below).

I found ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ stylistically a bit clunky and inconsistent, but thematically fascinating: how can people keep their humanity in the face of environmental destruction? what is our relationship with machines? where do our moral boundaries lie? Huge issues, which this book did admirably well to introduce, even if it did not offer answers. Given our current perilous global situation, it feels perhaps even more pertinent to the human condition now than when it was written in (unbelievably) 1968.

I then moved on to ‘The Rotters’ Club’ by Jonathan Coe – solidly written, politically aware and entertaining stuff describing the lives of disparate characters living through the turbulent, strike-afflicted days of the 1970s. I’ve read a few of Coe’s books (including the excellent ‘What A Carve Up!) so knew more or less what to expect, and wasn’t disappointed.

And so to the star of the show in terms of my recent literary encounters – the truly remarkable ‘The Unconsoled’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. This 1995 novel, following Ishiguro’s huge success with ‘The Remains of the Day’, divided the critics. Some (Anita Brookner and John Carey among them) hailed it as a masterpiece, others declared it ‘dysfunctional’, ‘an exercise in frustration’ and ‘disappointing’. It’s certainly not an easy read – the narrative takes the form of what seems to be an extended anxiety dream, is often confusingly non-linear and fractured, and stretches to some 535 pages. This said, I would classify it as one of the most remarkable things I’ve read, and encourage anyone who is up for a challenging but hugely rewarding read to give it a go.

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