I’m about a third of the way through Shantaram. Lots of people have told me that I need to read it, and that it’ll change my life. I’m always sceptical about bold claims. Especially life-changing ones. But now that I’m a third of the way through, I think that it will have a profound impact on my life. We’ll see. Stand by.
The thing I feel most confident about at the moment about Shantaram is that it’s an exercise in embellishment.
I really enjoyed the book, but I don’t think I understood what was going on while I was reading it, and probably not after I finished it either. But maybe now, a few weeks after, is it starting to congeal into something resembling an “aah…so that’s what was going on!”. Maybe. Probably not.
John’s (because we’re on first-name terms, obviously) writing style feels familiar, and there are several sentences in the book that wouldn’t be out of place slotted into a Mountain Goats song somewhere. This familiarity, though, lulled me into thinking that it would be a linear, and probably obvious, story that made sense. I was expecting more horror. I was expecting to be messed with more, psychologically. I didn’t expect to time-travel (not that the book is about time-travel) between generations, and across the country quite like it did.
I was confused for a lot of it once it moved away from the first story arc of the spliced in footage on the rental cassettes. But the writing style kept me reading, and I’m glad I persisted with it, even if I didn’t understand what was going on.
I reckon it’s a two or three star book. Same writing style with a story I understood and it would be a 4.5-er. I’m not blaming the author for me not understanding it, I should add.
I enjoy playing songs by The Mountain Goats. I enjoy listening to songs by The Mountain Goats. The songs are often deep, and dark, and touch on subjects that most of us have faced, but don’t talk about. Universal Harvester is by John Darnielle. The same John Darnielle who is the persistent (and often only) member, and primary songsmith, of The Mountain Goats. I didn’t realise that Darnielle was an author, but when my neighbour and fellow fan told me about it I really wasn’t surprised.
I’m half a dozen chapters in, and so far it’s dark. Bleak, even. I don’t often read scary books, but this is triggering some very deep fear responses from me, in a similar way to the animal masks in on of the seasons of the Danish/Swedish TV series Broen/Bron/The Bridge. Creepy AF.
This is going to look like it’s a New Year’s Resolution thing, but it isn’t.
I’m currently reading Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
I was lead to it, maybe embarrassingly, by a mention in the previous novel I read: The One Impossible Labyrinth by Matthew Reilly. Would I recommend the Jack West Junior series of books? No. Are they good? No. Are they enjoyable in the same way as The Expendables series of movies are? Yes. They’re ridiculous, have illustrations to help visualise the ridiculously over the top scenarios, and just never stop.
Foundation was published in 1951, and is the fourth book in the series, with three prequels written much later. Much like Star Wars. It’s set many thousands of years into the future, and, if I’ve understood it correctly, is about the prediction of the fall of the Galactic Empire by a mathematician, and his plan to prevent a 30,000 year dark age. We’ll see.