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Book 15

  1. Amis, Martin — London Fields (471 pages)
  2. Morpurgo, Michael — War Horse (182 pages)
  3. Winterson, Jeanette — Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (177 pages)
  4. Robinson, Bruce — Paranoia in the Launderette (43 pages)
  5. Carter, Angela — Heroes and Villains (152 pages)
  6. Burroughs, Edgar Rice — A Princess of Mars (209 pages)
  7. Hill, Susan — The Woman in Black (152 pages)
  8. Fowler, Karen Joy — Sarah Canary (293 pages)
  9. Rennison, Nick — 100 Must-Read Prize Winning Novels (174 pages)
  10. Beresford, David — Ten Men Dead (426 pages)
  11. Freedland, Jonathan — Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic (245 pages)
  12. Kierkegaard, Søren — Fear and Trembling (150 pages)
  13. Nothomb, Amélie — Fear and Trembling (132 pages)
  14. Delany, Samuel R. — Babel-17 (194 pages)
  15. Raine, Craig — History: The Home Movie (335 pages)
Page count
3335

I really thought I was going to get back on the book tracking bandwagon in late October, but somehow I only managed one. I definitely want to get through all my outstanding reports before the year is through, though, so I'd better get cracking.

History: The Home Movie is a collection of impressions of the twentieth century in verse. It is episodic in character, each chapter a collection of three-line stanzas capturing an significant moment in the life, or a pivotal historical event through the eyes, of one of the Pasternak or Raine families.

Craig Raine is one of the principal exponents of Martian poetry. The idea behind Martian poetry, a late '70s/early '80s British movement, is to recontextualize the familiar in unfamiliar ways with unexpected metaphors, to imagine how a Martian might see our world.

This all sounds very interesting, and at times it worked to great effect. Overall, the book was a disappointment, for two reasons:

  1. Raine seems — unsurprisingly for someone who is a friend of Ian McEwan and a kindred spirit of Martin Amis — to have an unhealthy obsession with gratuitous and often masturbatory sex. His subject matter and characters provide a wealth of opportunities for the poet and chronicler to exploit, but instead too much time is spent contemplating Boris Pasternak's cock.
  2. Sometimes the metaphors Raine employs are brilliant, causing one to consider objects from a fresh perspective, to focus on otherwise overlooked characteristics, bringing a scene or moment to life in a novel way. But far too often they came across as attempts to be clever and rang empty.

This is an ambitious book, but it fell short of the mark.

Update: I forgot to mention that this was my National Poetry Month reading selection.

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