Friday, 23 January 2009

War (yes, I know, 'what is good for/ absolutely nothing', and so on.)

I've left out 'fantasy' because I have an idea about that which involves getting someone better qualified than me to do it, and skipped straight on to war and travel.

First thought: another glaring snub for Henry Green (Caught and Back, this time.)

Second thought: but Richard Aldington makes it!?

And the rest: Heart of Darkness surely belongs in the 'family/ self' category, although I appreciate this is 'war and travel'. Glad to see a bit of Asterix to balance the Tintin. The list is very of its time, and pays what might be lip service to recent publishing phenomenons like The Kite Runner. Surely John Buchan is 'war and travel' rather than 'crime'. A.L. Kennedy's Day is good for what it is, but not the 'masterpiece' the Costa judges believe it to me (more timeliness). Evelyn Waugh's Put Out More Flags is a fantastic call, but the web editor is going to get fired over this summary -

Basil Seal, posh and feckless, has been a leader writer on the Daily Beast, a champagne salesman, a tour guide, a secret policeman in Bolivia, and an adviser on modernisation to the emperor of Azania – all way relationship between a young southern writer, a Polish Auschwitz survivor and a Jewish New Yorker interweaves a host of complex themes (survivor guilt, ancestral guilt, madness and betrayal). The movie was Oscar-nominated; the book was banned in libraries across the States. But this is not just about provocative comparisons. Styron is a writer's writer, capable of setting a pastoral idyll in Brooklyn, and the traumas narrated occur alongside a classic American coming-of-age story -

which resembles the book I've read up until the toponym Azania, at which point the parse becomes farce as we're offered a description of (of all books) William Styron's Sophie's Choice. If they've fixed that error in a few hours time, remember that you can still see this triumphantly tasteless Colemanball here, for ever, for free. Moving on, it's good to see children's literature represented - I always thought The Machine Gunners was beautifully creepy - and Sebald's finally appeared, with his own subsection.

Not bad, though, Guardian, not bad. I'm enjoying this feature.

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