Monday, 17 May 2010

Wot I Been Reading

I've been in a kind of C S Forester (author of Hornblower) groove these last few weeks and so I've read:
The General: A story about a career soldier who makes his name in the Boer War and goes on to get promoted beyond his capabilities in the First World War through being in the right place at the right time. The book tells us a lot about the cack-handed way that the War was managed by the senior commanders - the 'lions led by donkeys' motif. You do sympathise with the central protagonist even though you can see where he gets stuff wrong or is just out of his depth emotionally.
Payment Deferred: A quite absorbing story with a similar moral to The Treasure of The Sierra Madre by B Traven in which a murderer struggles with his sense of guilt and it gradually drives him a bit nuts. He buries the body in the back garden and becomes obsessed with watching the empty flower bed in case it gets discovered accidentally. There's an ironic twist at the end. Good characterisation of the murderer and his dim, docile and innocent wife.
Plain Murder: The central protagonist here is a psychopath - not a raving loony axe-murderer type but someone who is utterly self-centred and so sees it as quite acceptable that he should bump off anyone who is in his way or who might be a threat. Guilt is not something that occurs to him and otherwise he's quite a normal member of society functioning as well as anybody. And the whole thing starts off from a relatively trivial misdemeanor.
Randall and The River of Time: Not science fiction. The title refers to how time (or life) just flows along through eddies and channels and one can get carried along in a different stream by the simplest of actions or deflections. The story includes heroism in the trenches, adultery, murder, scientific invention, an Old Bailey trial, commentary on class divisions and the consequences of war, and the emotionally repressed nature of yer average Englishman.
These books are all quite old; the first three were written in the 1920s and the last one in the late 1940s. So the language and context is a bit dated and occasionally stuffy, but its all very English.

No comments:

Post a Comment