Friday, April 11, 2014

Chris Eaton, A Biography ~ Chris Eaton

Have you ever Googled your own name and wondered about the people that you share it with?  Well, Chris Eaton has and the result is a work of fiction centered around the lives of various male and female Chris Eatons along with a few other quirky characters.

Perhaps we all know, have met, crossed paths with, a Chris Eaton in our own lives?  I know I have, he's a charming Englishman who works at our Sydney head office and briefly worked with me in Queensland a few years ago.

You won't find a linear story here, but what you will find is your life paralleled with one of the Chris Eatons within the narrative.  Encompassing a broad spectrum of lives lived, this is by turns a funny but thought provoking novel.  At various points I did think that I was re-reading Moby Dick with the amount of facts and figures being presented on a multitude of topics, whether true or not I'm not sure as I don't think that the narrator was altogether reliable at times, but some of it was very interesting.

I did, to my surprise, find myself really enjoying this book.  It was very well written, and I was interested in many of the topics (punk rock, salt ...... otoliths).  I could not believe the book included the obscure otolith!  These little buggers are dominating my life at the moment, causing me severe vertigo at their worst and light headedness at their best, and no-one around me has ever heard of them, yet here they were speaking to me from the page (Kindle) LOL.

There were many thoughts, feelings and interactions in this novel that I could identify with, and it made me realise that we are ALL THE SAME.  We don't need to share the same name to experience the same hopes, fears, loves and life lessons.

This really is something different to read, and I can recommend it as a well written thought provoking independent novel.


Ps: I Googled my own name and I found mostly obituaries which was rather disconcerting!

Monday, April 7, 2014

1Q84 ~ Haruki Murakami

*Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers*

Two moons, little people, a cat town, an 'Air Chrysalis' and parallel story-lines that merge at the end.  Sounds surreal and mystical doesn't it, and just my type of read from an author I usually enjoy.  I didn't expect to be so wrong!  This love story between Aomame, a cold blooded assassin, and Tengo, a ghost writer, could have been intriguing but instead it was distasteful, boring and extremely repetitive.
I had several problems with the writing which totally frustrated me.  For one, I couldn't understand why there was such an in depth description as to the type of head a man must have for Aomame to sleep with him.  This was a ridiculous story-line to begin with, but being constantly told that it must be a certain shape and slightly balding didn't make sense as Tengo, her supposed soul mate, clearly did not have this head type at all, so what was the point?

When we were first introduced to Tengo he was in the grip of a disturbing vision/memory of his mother. These visions stop him completely in his tracks, he cannot function, and we are told in great detail that this happens on a regular basis (a bit like me and my BPPV!).  Yet it is barely alluded to for the rest of the novel.

The writing (or maybe it was the translation?) came across as very unprofessional. When you have only two characters in a scene and they are conversing you don't need to say for example "Tengo said”.  We know who’s talking.  and when one of the two characters repeats the other character’s line (which happened way too much in this novel I can tell you!) you don't need to say for example “Tengo repeated”. Aaaaagh, it was too much!

There were in depth histories of several secondary characters which served no purpose to the story, and sequences involving a ghostly NHK fee collector who we must suppose is Tengo's comatose father which also served no real purpose whatsoever.

I did enjoy the character of Ushikawa, but the amount of time spent with him was wasted as he was killed off. I didn't get it, why did I have to spend so much time with this secondary character and learn about his past, his flaws and hear his inner thoughts, only to have him die and achieving nothing in the way of propelling the story in any meaningful way?

My biggest gripe though is the fact that there was way too much repetition over-all in the novel, especially the constant recapping of the story thus far and dumb explanations of what was going on by various characters so much so that I found it pretty insulting to me as the reader.

I was so hoping for something magical like Kafka on the Shore, but this novel could have easily been cut by a third and I think we should demand a re-write – especially that of Aomame’s character, dialogue and motivation as that side of the novel was just plain awful.

I'm a very disappointed Murakami fan.