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Mountains and Pat Barker

July 19, 2011

I imagine that there are curses that can be directed towards people like Pat Barker, and I imagine that if I were to have finished reading The Eye in the Door in 1993 rather than in 2010 then I would be directing them towards her. As it stands I am pretty close to shouting expletives in her direction.

Having just finished her stunning novel, The Eye in the Door, and been perplexed by the ending (and not so much perplexed perhaps as much as I am desperately wanting to read the final book in the trilogy immediately), I want to continue with the series. But I can’t. I’ve got a self-imposed restriction, where I have to read something else in between. And having books out from the library that are due in the middle of next week, it is not difficult to find something to read in between (besides, I’ll have to go back to the library to get the next book anyways). Ultimately though, I read through The Eye in the Door very quickly, and loved every moment of it – there is something about the way that Pat Barker communicates; her words just seep into your skin, and there are moments and sentences and sentiments that are so perfectly produced that they give you chills. Just a warning that you will soon be hearing more about her – as I write a ‘review’ of this novel, then move onto the third, and then (as I am planning) write a more comprehensive reflection on the trilogy (depends on how the final novel goes, really, and whether or not this will be necessary).

I’ve moved on to J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K. I’m not far into it (I just started it last night about twenty minutes before I fell asleep). But I am really enjoying it already. It is clear to me already that, between Waiting for the Barbarians and Life & Times of Michael K, Coetzee matured as a writer – and yet what I am reading is quintessentially and stylistically the same. I’m looking forward to the crises that will envelop the story (is that wrong of me to say?).

Speaking of Coetzee, I was correct in saying that Waiting for the Barbarians was going to grow in my estimation as time passed. I want to read it again, already, and study it a bit more. Look for more of the nuances that I’m sure are there. And figure out that relationship between the Magistrate and his almost lover. That book has fascinated me as much in life as it did in death. And that said, it somehow has died on me; I’ve misplaced the book in my house, preventing me from getting to go back and do a proper re-read.

Mount Assiniboine

I’m hoping to get my ‘reviews’ of The True History of the Kelly Gang and The Eye in the Door up at some point between now and Friday night, as I am running off the the Rockies for the week following to go backpacking and camping with a bunch of friends. Details were just finalized today, and it is looking to be a great week. Fishing, drinking wine, avoiding bears – how can there be anything bad in this at all?

Already though I am not sure of which books I should take. I was looking through my  Reading Challenges listing and came away with a list of three that I could likely manage quite well. I will surely finish this Coetzee book between now and then (it is less than two hundred pages long); the drive is about ten hours each way to get to the Rockies. I likely won’t finish the third – and may not even get to it – but it would be a good idea to take it along, I think. So, the elected three are…

  • Hunger by Knut Hamsun
  • In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  • Jamrach’s Managerie by Carol Birch
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