Over the last couple of weeks I’ve felt the need to procrastinate as much as possible and so have spent the time reading.
I’ve finished Camilla Lackberg’s the ice princess and Colin Taber’s The Landing, and have started Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss, Van Gogh The life by Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith.
Tristes Tropique is a memoir in which the late Levi-Strauss, a structural anthropologist, shares with us his disdain for travel writers of the time (mid- 20th century) and his travels around the time of the second world war. For someone who doesn’t like travel writing, he is quite a good writer. I get the feeling he thought that as well. Be that as it may, I have been slowly hooked and at this point in my reading (I’m only at page 43), I’m caught on his observation that: The first thing we see as we travel around the world is our own filth, thrown into the face of mankind. It reminds me of John Steinbeck’s observation on humanity’s materialism and wastefulness in Travels with Charlie (see my review Travels with Charley: in search of America).
I have another 372 pages to go on Tristes Tropique so more on that one later.
Van Gogh. I’ve been interested in Vincent for years, but modern interpretations on this man’s life have intrigued me further and I’ve splashed out on a door stopper of a book so I can learn more about him. I might point out that I love most of his paintings as well and have started a personal collection of all his works on Pinterest (hell, it’s not as if I can afford to buy his art – original or prints).
My favourite works of his are The Starry Night and Vento. I have a long way to go before I finish this tome, but already I find myself stopping and thinking about him when Don Maclean’s Vincent comes on the radio…
On to the two books I have managed to finish reading.
Colin Taber is an author I met at the recent Book Expo in Sydney (see my Snapshot on the Expo here). Interesting guy. Knows heaps on book marketing. Has a really good idea for a great in-depth alternative history on the Vikings staying in America instead of their “fleeting” visit. I love the concept! Unfortunately, I don’t love Colin’s writing style. That isn’t to stay I won’t keep in touch with the series – it has so much potential after all, but I just couldn’t get into The Landing as much as I wanted to. I had the same problem with Matthew Riley’s early books so obviously it’s more my reading preference rather than Colin’s ability as a writer. If you’re interested in Colin Taber’s The United States of Vinland concept, I definitely recommend giving The Landing a try. It’s got great bones!
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg was a great read. I didn’t realise that it was an earlier book to Buried Angels, which I picked up at the Sydney Writer’s Festival a few months ago (read my review: Buried Angels). It would make sense to read the series in order, but it isn’t strictly necessary. The series features writer Erica Falck and police detective Patrick Hedstrom who have known each other since they were children and (in The Ice Princess) have been reunited by a murder mystery in their home town of Fjallbacka in Sweden. That’s all I’m telling you other than it’s very good and has lots of twists. I thought I’d figured the mystery out several times, but didn’t. Now, I have to go buy all the other books so I can track the journey between The Ice Princess and Buried Angels.
Links you might be interested in:
Review of Van Gogh The Life from The Guardian
Colin Taber’s The United States of Vinland
and for Dr Who fans, here’s a tribute to Van Gogh using clips from Vincent and the Doctor to Don Maclean’s Vincent.
and some info about the Dr Who episode (one of my favourite).