Monday, 31 October 2011

50 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

How do you you fly ten thousand salmon over to the Yemen and how on earth are you supposed to get them to live and breed in the desert ?

Dr Alfred Jones is a fisheries scientist whose biggest achievement in life was publishing his esteemed paper 'Effects of Increased Water Acidity on the Caddis Fly Larva'. Out of the blue he is contacted by Fitzharris and Price ( Land Agents & Consultants) who are acting on behalf of a client ( A Yemeni Sheikh) who has come up with the absurd proposal to introduce Salmon fishing in his country. At first Dr Jones is adamant that the whole idea is ridiculous and that he wants nothing more to do with it but then the Prime Minister's office gets involved. With his marriage falling apart at the seams he decides to change the course of his life.

I decided to read this after (earlier this year) reading Paul Torday's excellent book 'The Girl On the Landing.' Like that book 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' is highly original, unique and very brave for a first novel. And I liked the fact that underlying the story is a good moral story about the importance of faith and about how (in the west) faith has been replaced by love of money and power. In parts it is also quite amusing ( QUITE not incredibly amusing).

However, even though this book is original and very different from anything I have ever read I just found it lacked an interesting story plot. Maybe people who are into fishing would appreciate it more but I am not a fan of fishing. To me I found the story as exciting as salmon fishing to be honest. The whole story is made up of a series of emails, letters and diary excerpts and this also slowed it down . I guess what I have learned ( from an aspiring writers perspective) is that it sometimes isn't enough to have an original and unique story, you also need an interesting and exciting plot. The plot in this book left me asking the age old question, SO What ? After the fantastic ' The Girl on the Landing' I will probably read more from Paul Torday, this just wasn't my favourite book.


Friday, 21 October 2011

49 The Small Hand - Susan Hill

Profile Books, 2010.

Adam Snow is driving home when he gets lost and discovers an old Edwardian house in the middle of nowhere, the house seems derelict and the garden badly overgrown.His instincts tell him to go home but something inside him tells him to take a closer look. There is something about the house that seems to be pulling him in and that's when he feels a child's hand curl around his own. And then the nightmares begin.

This book jumped out at me on a visit to my local library. If you want to read something quick and light, then I would recommend 'The Small Hand'. It took me a while to get into the book but it's a nice little ghost story. It builds and builds and keeps you guessing until the end. A ghost story as light as a summer breeze, try it if you like that kind of thing. I did and will have to keep an eye out for more books by Susan Hill.


Sunday, 16 October 2011

48 Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

In this collection of stories a Nebraska farmer takes the law into his own hands when his wife threatens to sell off the family home, with grisly consequences, a mystery writer is attacked on a deserted road, a cancer sufferer gets a one in the million chance to be healed and a woman finds out that her long time husband is not half the man she thought he was.

I am a self confessed Stephen King fan and he has probably been one of my biggest influences as an aspiring writer over the years, since I was a mixed up 14 year old. But to be honest, this didn't really rock my world. Maybe my tastes are changing now that I am reading so much on this challenge or maybe it just isn't one of his best. The stories are accessible and worth a read but none of them really gets going. Probably my favourite stories were the last two ( Fair Extension and A Good Marriage) but even the latter had an ending that I found quite unrealistic.
The paperback edition which I read included an extra short story entitled Under The Weather but unfortunately it left me feeling under the weather myself. The twist at the end ( if in fact it was intended as a twist) could probably be seen from the moon.

There's nothing terrible about Full Dark, No Stars but each story left me feeling empty, almost like the great man had written them while visiting the small boys room. Not my favourite King book but not a bad book either.


Friday, 7 October 2011

47 Meditation For Beginners - Jack Kornfield

Bantam books

I have always been interested in things of a spiritual nature and this is a good beginners guide to Meditation. It comes complete with a CD of guided meditations to go along with the book. However I only listened to meditation 'one' and found it easier to just read the book itself. It is easy to follow and is focussed on 'Insight' or 'Vipassana' meditation and I have enjoyed following this programme and am hoping to continue to use it on a daily basis. I like the idea and think it could have lots of health and stress busting benefits but I guess time will tell. It is well written and convincing, without any new world bullshit.
It's well worth a read if you are into this kind of thing as much as I am.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

46 An Inspector Calls - J.B.Priestley

I stole this from my son who is studying it as part of his high school curriculum. Having a teenage son can be highly challenging, sometimes entertaining, but occasionally it has its advantages!

Arthur Billing and his family have just finished a special meal to celebrate the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, to Gerald Croft, the son of a business rival.
Everything seems to be going hunky-dory and Sheila has literally just put the ring on her finger when there is a knock at the door. In walks a police inspector with some life shattering and astonishing news that somewhat spoils the mood of the evening.

I haven't read many plays and this is only the second since I started my 52 book challenge. Although I guess you could argue that 'Of Mice and Men' was a kind of a play.
I really liked it and it kept my interest all the way. It was quite cool to read an old play like this and the ending was intriguing to say the least ! I didn't really read it as if it was taking place on some old time stage like the Old Vic, I read it like I read all books. I asked my son Adam what he thought and he said it was boring ! And he said he didn't understand the ending. I didn't either but I don't think J.B.Priestly meant us to. Parts of the story made me think, parts of the book made me giggle ( not sure what Priestley would think about that) but overall I thought it was a great little read.

10/10 Must read more plays.