I somehow finished reading 3 books yesterday

And thought I probably should write about it.

I don’t mean that I started and finished three books in one day. Instead these were books I had been reading for a while.

One was an audiobook actually, a rather delightful one read by actor Alan Cumming whose narration was just perfect. It was a tale of an alternate history, a world of hydrogen beasts, strafing hawks, and clankers. I loved all the strange and wonderful ideas that Westerfeld came up with. How an airship is actually a whale of sorts, a Darwinist fabricated beast that belongs to the British military. And on the German side, the machinery is far more mechanical, with for eg Stormwalkers, which in my mind was like an AT-ST (those two-legged transport vehicles in Star Wars). I especially loved when Cumming voiced Dr Barlow, the woman scientist on board the airship. I somehow imagine him drawing himself up and tossing his hair back every time he voices her.

One was a book that had been sitting on my shelves for too long. A book that was really hard to read yet I couldn’t make myself stop reading. It was full of unreliable narrators and it was such an uncomfortable read. And that is where I have to admire Chaon. He made it so uncomfortable a read yet it was a book that I couldn’t stop reading. It wasn’t something I could read and read and read. I had to stop and put it aside but I kept going back to it. Until it was done. And I reckon that’s the mark of an excellent writer.

And last, a book from the library, another book that wasn’t easy to read. It starts off with a group of young children with such amazing names like Darling and Godknows living in Zimbabwe, trying to stave off hunger by stealing guavas from the richer neighbourhoods. One of their friends, a ten-year-old is pregnant. It’s a crappy existence but they have each other. Darling soon finds an escape – she has relatives in America. But the promised land isn’t as promised as she expects. Bulawayo writes about childhood, impoverished as it may be, so well. And her insights about being an immigrant in America are difficult to read but ring true. A bold and brave debut.


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