Selasa, 29 Mei 2012

Five From The Archive (no.1)

Whilst I was away from blogging, I came up with a fun idea (which you're welcome to borrow, if you like it)...  One of the anomalies I've noticed about blogging is that we all put a lot of time and effort into reviews - creating really great, extensive resources about incredible books - and yet these reviews are only likely to be read for a week or so, and then disappear into the hazy mists of the blog archive.  I thought it would be fun, and maybe useful, to highlight and group past books.

Since I've now celebrated my fifth blogging anniversary, I'm going to start an ongoing series Five From The Archive, where I post excerpts and links to five reviews from my past five years, grouped in some way.  That might be something obvious -  like 'books in translation' - or something a bit wackier.  And then I'll ask you to contribute your own suggestions.  I'm even hoping to post a (new) relevant sketch with each one - but you know how slack I get at that - kicking off with one of me and Colin.

They'll be appearing on Wednesdays, but probably not every week.

I'll start with a very Stuck-in-a-Book topic...  

Five Books Featuring Twins or Doubles

1.) Christopher and Columbus (1919) by Elizabeth von Arnim

In short: Half-German/half-American twins are exiled to America during the war.  They meet a friendly young American man on the boat, and the three embark on rather mad travels.  Somehow both wickedly cynical and totally heart-warming.

From the review: "The most delicious thing about this novel (and it is a very delicious novel) is undoubtedly the twins' dialogue.  It's such a delight to read.  [...] They both have such a captivatingly unusual outlook on life.  Their logic swirls in circles which dizzy the listener; their conversations would feel at home at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party - and yet they are lovely, kind, fundamentally good people - and without being remotely irritating."

2.) The Icarus Girl (2005) by Helen Oyeyemi

In short: Introverted eight-year-old Jessamy meets TillyTilly, seemingly her double, whilst in her mother's native Nigeria.  Their friendship grows gradually more unsettling...

From the review: "What starts as a novel about loneliness and isolation becomes infused with issues of obsession, possession, power and, most sophisticatedly, doubleness."

3.) Alva & Irva (2003) by Edward Carey

In short: One twin helps battle the other's agoraphobia, even as their bond is challenged, by building a scale replica of their town through plasticine - and it's all presented as a travel guide.  Surreally brilliant, and surprisingly moving.

From the review: "It is a novel filled with grotesque characters (in the sense of exaggerated and strange) - the father who is obsessed with stamps, for example. The novel is actually, in many ways, about obsession - whether with objects or people or tasks."

4.) A Lifetime Burning (2006) by Linda Gillard

In short: A compelling, involving novel about the dramas and conflicts within a tempestuous family - including twins whose relationship is far from normal.  Sadly my review was far too brief - I must re-read!

From the review: "Though the novel jumps all over the place, I never found it confusing - rather a path towards illumination and comprehension of the characters, understanding (rather than sanctioning) the way they act. Linda Gillard writes with lyrical intensity."

5.) Identical Strangers (2007) by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

In short: An autobiographical account of twin sisters only meeting at age 35 - and how they cope with this shift in their lives, and their different needs and responses.

From the review: "We follow Paula and Elyse through a couple of years - the joy, the excitement, the bickering, the discovering of their extraordinary relationship. [...] A fascinating topic, well told by engaging, honest people experiencing a rollercoaster of events."

Over to you!

Which title (or titles) would you add for this category?  Let me know!

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