Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”; a chilling allegory of conformity

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the lotteryMy rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

First published in 1948 in the New Yorker, The Lottery is a brilliantly written allegory about society, conformity and tradition. The very short story (32 pages) follows a small village as they gather for their annual lottery, each person taking a slip of paper from a box where the winner will be the recipient of a rather unorthodox and brutal prize.Continue Reading

DeLillo’s “Players”; It’s unsettling how life imitates art

playersMy rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

Don DeLillo has written some amazing books but I’m not sure this is one of them. Players is an interesting book mostly because it was written pre 9/11 and the characters work in the World Trade Center. The wife even talks about how the towers seem temporary: “To Pammy the towers didn’t seem permanent. They remained concepts, no less transient for all their bulk than some routine distortion of light.” Moreover after witnessing a terrorist event on the trading floor, her husband decides to get involved with some terrorists. Talk about life imitating art. Continue Reading

The Comfort of Strangers; no stranger, but still no comfort

the comfort of strangersMy rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

I first read this Ian McEwan book (The Comfort of Strangers) a few years ago and I loved it so much that I wanted to re-read it. Now that I have, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson; you can’t re-read a suspense novel and get the same awful sense of foreboding that I remember having the first time around. I could, however, still appreciate the writing and how he manages to vividly capture familiar sensations: the carefree way you feel on holiday and how that changes your decisions, particularly when you meet new people; and the way couples communicate with each other after years in relationships. It really is a masterclass in writing a suspense novel and it was this book that set me off on an Ian McEwan extravaganza – Atonement, Saturday, On Chesil Beach, Solar, Enduring Love – and made me appreciate what a great author he is. It’s an unsettling book but I just wish I could have felt as scared the second time around…


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When are you reading? 2016 challenge

when-are-you-reading-2016-finalIf you fancy reading more across different time periods, this might be the challenge for you. When Are You Reading? is hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words where the year-long goal is to read 12 books set or written in previous eras (e.g. pre 1500, 1500-1599 and so on) to the present day. It’s a great way to discover new writing/authors and also maybe just the impetus we need to get to those books that we’ve been meaning to read for ages. Er, the classics, anyone?

 


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Bookish bingo challenge 2016

bookish bingo 2016There are lots of versions of “book bingo” for those who want a slightly more demanding reading challenge, and to try something that’s a little bit different. It’s straightforward – just read the type of book in each square to fill up the board (the rules vary) but it’s a brilliant impetus to read outside of our comfort zone and discover new genres and/or authors. I like the look of this one on The Girly Geek which runs throughout 2016.