Wednesday Night Ramblings


I am quite scattered this week. I actually have 6 books in progress (4 novels, a chronicle and a poetic essay), and I am feeling starved because my Kobo’s battery is dead and 3 of the novels are on it. Notice that there are still 2 books I can read, but I am itching to read the 3 that I cannot reach until I rescue my charger from my laptop back at the office tomorrow.

I am scattered in other ways as well, such as forgetting to buy my December monthly transit pass, but let’s not dwell on that for too long…

The 3 novels on the Kobo are Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. They’re all very different genres (fantasy, spy and speculative fiction) but I do have rather eclectic tastes. The paper novel is André Vanasse’s La flûte de Rafi, a historical novel. Also, I am reading Rodney St-Eloi’s account of his experience of the 2010 heartquake in Haiti and a book by Hélène Dorion about poetry.

Stephen King speculates about what could happen if one could go back in time and change a historical event, namely, the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Of course his time travel device presents some constraints and his time travellers have limitations of their own. They do think, however, that they would be doing humanity a service by allowing this great man a longer life span. That may be counting without “history” that resists being changed, as they clearly see from attempts at changing events that have much less impact on the world. All done in typical Stephen King style, with bad omens abounding.

The only other Ian McEwan novel I have read is Solar. So far, with Sweet Tooth, there is one similarity in the presence of a professor as a character, but whereas the professor was the main character in the former, the latter reserves a secondary role to the academic and the guy dies quite early in the novel. However, this existence is linked to major life choices of the main protagonist who so far, grew up as a bishop’s daughter and loved reading novels, studied math at Cambridge to please her very decisive mother, and who got hired as a glorified office clerk by MI5. Who know what the future holds for this young woman coming of age in England in the early 1970s? At about 17% into the novel, I can only see a lingering heartache from her short affair with the professor…

The Ishiguro novel is much harder to characterize… It is odd to say the least. It tells the story of a young woman who grew up at a very special boarding school where none of the students seem to have families. They are told they have been brought into the world for a very special purpose and that they have to keep themselves healthy so they can perform “donations”. I understand that to mean organ donations, but why that would be needed and under what conditions totally escapes me. These young people expect to be “carers” before they have to start donations, and that means, as far as I can guess, that they have to assist in the care and recovery of those who have made donations. The descriptions of the behavioural norms at the school as well as afterwards are made by the main character, in the first person, and reflect the usual thought process of someone trying to make sense of the world by inference, with little opportunity for asking for corroborating information. As the information shared is filtered by one ill-informed character is it not fully credible, so the reader is left to find out where the “truth” may lie. The story seems to be set in England in the 20th century but that is not explicitly said.

Well, enough for now… I do want to get some reading done before going to sleep.

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