Tag: Readable

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The White Company | Review

Title: The White Company

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 338

Rating: 3/5

This is some more of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historic fiction, but unfortunately I didn’t quite find it as gripping as his Brigadier Gerard stories. I liked the accuracy and the research that he’d put in clearly comes across, but the plot itself wasn’t quite as gripping, perhaps because Sir Nigel Loring is less gripping than Gerard was. And both are pretty much standard old school colonialist types fighting for queen and country, which I can’t exactly relate to.

As you might expect from the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the plotting and the pacing was pretty good. Some of the dialogue was questionable because he spent a lot of time trying to imitate dialects etc, but overall it was readable enough. If anything, it was more the setting and the characters that held me back from loving it, although I did appreciate it for what it is.

There’s always something kind of fascinating about reading historical fiction that itself is historical, and I’ve always thought it was kind of cool that as well as writing the Holmes books, Conan Doyle also wrote The Lost World (a cracking read) and some historical fiction. Let’s just not talk about when he started to believe in fairies and stuff.

So this isn’t really something for the general reader, and it’s probably best avoided if you only know of Conan Doyle because of Holmes. If you’re a long-term fan and want to delve deeper into his work though, or if you’re particularly interested in historical fiction, it might be worth checking out.

For my part, I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad that I read it as a bedtime book and so I didn’t have to spend huge chunks of time with it. I could dip in and out at will, often reading chapters instead of entire stories, so there was plenty there to enjoy – just over time.

Learn more about The White Company.

 


Haruki Murakami – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | Review

Title: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 628

Rating: 4.5/5

I picked up this book as a buddy read with my friend Charlie, who’s also an excellent author in his own right. Buddy reads are almost always more fun than regular reads, but I think I would have still enjoyed this one regardless. That said, it did have at least one other impact because we read it three chapters a day instead of all in one go, and I think that helped me to take it a little more slowly and to savour it.

And there was plenty to savour here. Possibly one of my favourites was also the most brutal scene, in which someone got skinned alive with all the efficiency of someone peeling a peach. Murakami is a truly talented writer no matter what he’s writing about, which in this case meant that the whole scene was horrifically realistic, right down to the way that the man screamed.

I also like the sort of slight hallucinatory quality that the book has. It’s almost like a series of interrelated vignettes as opposed to a traditional novel, but it works really well and gives you something different as a reader that you might not have been expecting. I’ve read Murakami a bunch of times before of course, but he takes things in a slightly different direction here.

There’s almost something timeless about the storytelling here, and you have to give Murakami credit for that. Credit is also very much due to Jay Rubin too, who’s the translator here. I was stoked to see that when I picked it up because Rubin is my favourite Murakami translator. I was excited to see that right on the credits page, and the book just kept on getting better from there.

Another memorable series of scenes are those that took place at the bottom of wells. There was something deeply disturbing about those scenes, and you could really sense the claustrophobia. To be honest, it’s making me feel a little bit weird just thinking back to them.

What’s interesting about Murakami is that he has this knack of writing stories that are slow paced and meandering but which still definitely go somewhere. They’re the kind of books where it feels like anything can happen, and that’s what makes Murakami so readable. This here feels as though it might be his equivalent of The Stand, and there’s certain that kind of epic quality to it.

But perhaps it’s more like Cloud Atlas or something like that, because it all takes place in our own world and there are none of the supernatural hijinks that come along with Stephen King, who I guess is the closest I can think of to Murakami when it comes to making fictional characters seem realistic while writing about the darker sides of humanity.

To be honest, when I got started on this book, all I knew about it was that it was a Murakami novel and that Charlie wanted to read it. I think I had a slight subconscious knowledge of it being quite a popular one amongst Murakami fans, but that’s about it. I’m glad that the buddy read gave me the impetus to pick it up and to order a copy in rather than just waiting until I spotted it in a charity shop.

So would I recommend this one? Oh hell yeah, I was very impressed by it. It might be kind of long if you’re new to Murakami, and I think most people probably start out with Norwegian Wood, but I think this book is a cracker no matter who wrote it. The fact that it’s a translation just makes it cooler.

Learn more about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.