Book reviews 

Have I ever shared with you the most damning praise I ever read in a book review? 

A student once wrote that a novel was well-punctuated. 

If I have shared this with you before, it is worth rolling out every so often. I think of it when I have little to say in praise of a novel. I am not sure if the student was being critical or if she was honestly amazed at the skills of punctuation. Either way it is original. Such fun. 

We need some lightness in coping with the darkness of one of the books I read last hols. 

I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. Moving, depressing, heartening. Doesn’t offer much hope for Pakistan despite the brave and selfless acts of individuals like Malala and her father. 

I read this at the time of Tunisian shooting and after reading many ISIS Twitter accounts after the death of a dickhead Australian who joined ISIS.  Madness cannot be countered. Not with logic. Not with love.  Really it’s a shitty mess. 

Dar’s review of Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh made me want to read this again. I am sure I read this decades ago; definitely watched the original miniseries. Do you find when you come back to some books at a different time in your life, you have a whole different read, see different things, look at it through a different lens and get a different meaning. It’s just a different experience?

What struck me on this reading is how unlikable and selfish is Charles Ryder, the narrator. I don’t care that he doesn’t get the girl he supposedly loves. He doesn’t deserve her. Thoroughly selfish lot the upper class – all of them. If I was Sebastian, I’d probably run away too. I will watch the miniseries and the latest interpretation to see how the characters are presented, how we are positioned to feel about them all. 

But I don’t think I care. And that blasted teddy bear. For god’s sake. Toss it. Pretentious affectation. 


10 thoughts on “Book reviews 

  1. I still need to see the Brideshead mini-series. So curious as to how they interpreted all the relationships. In some ways I felt that Charles’s fascination with the Flyte family was his undoing. But he was a social climber and would have had it coming to him regardless.

    After reading the book, I stumbled across the Waugh “banana story” and now I can’t think of the book without thinking the worst of its author:

    • Charles was pretty high in the social strata. Admittedly not as high and wealthy as the Flytes. Such wealth would be mesmerising. I think it was the Catholic aspect rather than the wealth that concerned Waugh. Strange how someone who could treat his kids with so little love was into religion. But then again really not strange.

  2. I remember reading and watching it when I was in Year 12. It was a bit of a thing among my frightfully pretentious English Literature class, with us all clutching shabby teddy bears to our heaving 16-17 year old chests and pining dreadfully over Sebastian. I seem to recall enjoying it more than our set texts, and um I may still have the teddy bear.

  3. Brideshead was another of our set texts at school but it’s one I can barely recall. I probably need to read it again but I don’t remember relating much to it the first time around.

    There’s a pub near Melbourne Uni where the kids go out on Saturday night dressed Waugh-style and carrying teddy bears. Mr D and I went there one night and were amused to see the determination as each new poetry book was held aloft and read aloud, in defiance of the busy bar and nearby big screen TV showing football.

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