‘ahems and ahahs’

Literature, & Etc.

Posts Tagged ‘british literature

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

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“To like something is to want to ingest it, and in that sense is to submit to the world. To like something is to succumb, in a small but content-full way, to death. But dislike hardens the perimeter between the self and the world, and brings a clarity to the object isolated in its light. Any dislike is in some measure a triumph of definition, distinction, and discrimination–a triumph of life.”

5083_meat-painting…thus writes Tarquin Winot, the protagonist and narrator of his life as told through food in John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure. The novel is set up as a series of menus that interweave various autobiographical factoids of Tarquin as he relates his passion for all things food related. As the story progresses the reader gains more and more insight into the life of this self professed epicure. The book starts off rather slow which I found to be a bit frustrating but quickly finds an enjoyable pace. If you enjoy food and literature, this is definitely a book to experience. The pay off at the end is most satisfying. One of the joys of the book is that the various menus that are presented to the reader can be served and enjoyed. Tarquin goes through a step by step process, ingredient by ingredient so that the reader can also create the same meal being presented. A rich history of various foods, particularly french cuisine is weaved into the narrative of his life and obsession with food. If you’re a “foodie”, then this book is for you. I learned quite a bit about wine, cheese, mushrooms, and how these items were used historically and the reasons behind why they retain the significance in our dietary lives. A book I found at Brock laying around on a bench the one day, definitely glad I picked this one up. Cheers.

The Years by Virginia Woolf

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virginia20woolf20at20windowNow that I’ve had some time to digest Virginia Woolf’s The Years I have come to the conclusion that while very enjoyable there is something disagreeable about reading about the characters that she presents the readers. The novel follows a single family, the Pargiters. The novel begins in the year 1880 and spans the turn of the century up until “present day” which at the time of the publication of the novel is 1937.  As I’ve mentioned before there is nothing significant about any of these characters or their lives, in fact they are very self obsessed and arrogant in their concern and worries of their own lives and that is what I find to be difficult in reading these characters. Virginia steps back outside of these characters and we take that step with her. And with this outside view, the reader sees how our own lives match the lives presented in the book and this is not necessarily a great thing. Their obsession with the mundane goings on of their lives is just sad to me. 

The brilliance of the book I find is located in the way that Virginia weaves the changing world in the background, the introduction of the automobile, the world war, the changing face of communication [ telegraph, telephone ]. These are introduced in subtle ways that seamlessly interweave with the lives of the characters. 

I’ve read many of Virginia’s non-fiction and shorter fiction works but up until now I had not ventured into her novels. I think this is an amazing introduction into her work and if you have ever considered reading her work, this is a wonderful place to start. My only advice is to be patient as the novel is a bit heavy in that it drains you as you see bits of yourself in the lives of the characters she presents. If we all step back and look at the lives of people the way she does, stepping back and look at ourselves I think all of our lives seem to be petty and mundane. It does make you think though and reflect that we’re not so different as past generations, each new generation seems to distance itself from the previous, but what Virginia shows us is that we often have more in common than we’d like to admit.

Written by thebeliever07

May 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm

R.I.P. – Harold Pinter

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pinter460Harold Pinter, Britain’s top contemporary dramatist died yesterday at the age of 78. R.I.P. my friend you will be missed.

When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror – for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us. –Art, Truth & Politics: The Nobel Lecture (2005)-

Pinter was best know for his plays, including his 1960 breakthrough production The Caretaker, The Dumb Waiter and The Birthday Party. But he was also a screenwriter, actor and director and in recent years a vociferous campaigner against human rights abuses, including the occupation of Iraq by western armed forces.

Written by thebeliever07

December 25, 2008 at 6:38 pm