A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

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Read 22/04/2016-23/04/2016

Rating: 5 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness challenge

I’ve had this book recommended to me a few times, so when it was nominated for the March Madness challenge, I decided it was one of the challenge books I would read. Continue reading

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Random thought: Una Stubbs loves Crime and Punishment too

I love Una Stubbs. Forget those silly boys dashing about London solving mysteries, she makes Sherlock for me.

She’s more than Mrs Hudson, though. She’s the cheeky foil to Cliff Richard who knows how to dance. She’s an expert at charades. Her episode of Who Do You Think You Are is one of the best they’ve ever done.

She’s in The Guardian today doing the Q&A. Quite aside from learning she despises Tony Blair, I love her even more today because she knows that you don’t need a fancy pants education to read Crime and Punishment (have I mentioned that it’s my favourite book in the world? Oh, I have?).

 

The Milkman in the Night

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Read 26/12/2015-29/12/2015

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt Challenge

“Cars were driving past them, making sighing and sobbing noises as they drove over snow that had already been kneaded by countless tyres.”

Andrey Kurkov is one of my favourite contemporary writers. This sentence not only poetically describes winter in Kiev, it also stands as a description of the human condition in Ukraine.

This is Ukraine after the Orange Revolution. Viktor Yushchenko is President and Viktor Yanukovych is Prime Minister. Yulia Tymoshenko is waiting in the wings. Corruption is the default position, selective naivety a way to survive. Continue reading

WE

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Read 20/04/2015-23/04/2015

Rating: 3 stars

I really enjoyed this futuristic dystopian SciFi tale. Tempting to read all kinds of things into it, given the time of its publication and subsequent banning in Russia, but actually I think it’s just a reflection on how things can go wrong when you try to make everything equal by eliminating the complexities of human nature, and how conforming to the prevalent culture can sometimes feel safe, even when it’s not. Pertinent to all societies, not just overtly oppressive ones. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment

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Read first in 2003, and again in 2006, and once more in 2008, in the Penguin classic edition translated by David McDuff.

Re-read 06/07/2014-13/07/2014

Rating: 5 stars

Crime and Punishment has long been my favourite book. I have read the David McDuff translation for Penguin three times, once in a tent at Glastonbury festival where it almost won the battle for my undivided attention. The Pevear & Volokhonsky translation for Vintage, though, blows McDuff out of the water. It is more immediate, more human, simultaneously capturing the period Dostoyevsky was writing in alongside the sense that life is timeless and modernity began in the 1860s.

Crime and Punishment is the first true crime novel. Continue reading

War and Peace

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Read 02/02/2014-12/03/2014

Rating: 4 stars

LibraryThing review

The BBC have recently shown Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic. I was underwhelmed by it. The only character who I felt was well represented was Pierre Bezhukov, played by Paul Dano. Nobody else really lived up to the people I met in the novel. I was also disappointed by the choices Davies made in what to strip out of this sprawling story about life. Continue reading