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- Freedland, Jonathan — Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic (245 pages)
- Kierkegaard, Søren — Fear and Trembling (150 pages)
- Nothomb, Amélie — Fear and Trembling (132 pages)
- Delany, Samuel R. — Babel-17 (194 pages)
- Raine, Craig — History: The Home Movie (335 pages)
- Page count
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:
- 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.
- 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.