Thursday, September 27, 2012

Luka and the Fire of Life

Luka and the Fire of Life: A NovelLuka and the Fire of Life: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not a fan of children's literature but I enjoyed Luka and the Fire of Life, from the master of magical realism Salman Rushdie. Luka's story is interesting and serves as a great introduction to many of the techniques of adult literature: irony, simile, puns, allegory, all are packed into this novel along with a few rewards for adults as well. Among these rewards was a nod to Orwell in relation to a metaphoric dichotomy between the extremes of freedom of speech in the Insultana and her "Over-the-topers" (Otters), and the bland grey landscape inhabited by the rats of the collectivist Rat's Respectorate.

Rushdie ensures that this is a novel that is most contemporary and accessible for modern children in framing the whole adventure in the form of a video game, and it is sweet to imagine some auto-biographical background to the story of Luka and his father Rashid - this was after all written as a birthday present to Rushdie's son Milan.

Luka and the Fire of Life would make a wonderful gift to any child of perhaps six or seven.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

At Swim-Two-Brids

At Swim-Two-BirdsAt Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two-thirds of the way through this book I started to hate it. I nearly put it down, and then found myself loving it. To be frank this book is a bit of a mindfuck. It possesses genius which impels me to go back and explore it again, but that will be awhile because I found it somewhat exhausting.

I enjoyed 'The Third Policeman' and from it should have expected a challenging read from At Swim-Two-Birds, but this is by far more rich and intricate than O'Brien's second book. It is also much less enjoyable on first read for me.

Two stars or even one would be my review if it were for the numbing effect I feel after finishing this book, but again there is so much genius sprinkled through-out it that I am sure I will be raising it much higher on my re-read. Suffused with poetic genius, do not attempt At Swim-Two-Birds expecting a light read.

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