Tag: Secondary School

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood | Review

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 394

Rating: 4*/5

 

Haruki Murakami - Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood

 

Norwegian Wood is an interesting one, because it’s one of the few ‘bestsellers‘ that I’ve read of late that have actually lived up to the title. The author does a great job of blending different influences together while forging ahead with his own voice, and the result is the sort of book that captures the spirit of a generation – in this book, the 1960s – while simultaneously standing up proud as a story of its own.

Loosely speaking, it’s all about the relationships between a group of friends and acquaintances in Japan during the swinging sixties. A lot of ‘foreignbooks (I wrote it like that because ‘foreign’ is a relative term) have a habit of over-taxing the brain – it can often be difficult to differentiate between places and character names when they come from an unfamiliar language. But that’s not the case here – it feels like a town you grew up in, or like revisiting the corridors in the secondary school you attended.

It’s also noteworthy because it brings the past and the present together in a story that’s relatable for people of all ages and from all generations. I also think it has the potential to stand the test of time, although I disagree with a few of the reviewers who called Murakami one of the world’s greatest living novelists. There are better living novelists, but there aren’t too many of them, and Murakami is certainly very good at what he does.

 

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

 

Then there’s the age-old problem of trying to figure out how much of the credit should go to the author and how much should go to the translator. In this case, it appears as though both of them have done a fine job of things, and I’d certainly put this book in the top 5% of the contemporary fiction that comes out. But the top 1%? That’s a tough one.

Overall though, you’d be crazy not to recommend this, and you’d be crazy not to read it, too. There’s a lot to be said for it, and the characters are not just relatable – they’re also memorable, and that’s often, sadly, a rarity. But in this case, Murakami does a good job of things, and the result is this – a little gem of a novel.

 

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

 

Click here to buy Norwegian Wood.

 


R. L. Trask – Mind the Gaffe | Review

Title: Mind the Gaffe

Author: R. L. Trask

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 310

Rating: 7/10

 

R. L. Trask - Mind the Gaffe

R. L. Trask – Mind the Gaffe

 

This book is nothing more and nothing less than an interesting dive into the murky world of the English language and of grammar. Trask highlights a number of common mistakes that plague our society, and in this book he explains what makes them wrong and how to fix them.

It’s an interesting enough read if you’re a linguist or if you love the English language, but this definitely isn’t for everyone – it digs pretty deep, and it’s not always easy to follow unless you’re familiar already with a lot of the concepts that you’re supposed to be taught in secondary school. Sure, it can be a dry read, but it also seems like a vital one, at least to me – if you’re an author, you’re always looking to improve your writing, and there’s plenty for you to learn here whether you’re a writer or not.

I’m not sure that there’s much less for me to say about Mind the Gaffe – the concept is simple enough, and the author stretches it out across a full length book. If anything, it feels like it could’ve been a little shorter, but it could also have been a lot longer – there’s a lot to take in and a lot of common mistakes, and even though some of them are more common than others, there are still omissions because there just has to be, by the very nature of this sort of book. The English language is so vast that it would be impossible to encompass it all within the pages of a single book, but Trask has a pretty good go at it. Not a book to be taken lightly, but it’s worth having a copy of it if you’re a writer.

 

R. L. Trask

R. L. Trask

 

Click here to buy Mind the Gaffe.

 


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