Sunday, 8 March 2009

Recent Books

With Script Frenzy approaching I am winding down on reading books at the moment and trying to turn my mind to writing more, but I have a few books out from the library at the moment, and so feel that I should get them finished before I start writing my breakthrough screenplay.

Or graphic novel. I haven't really decided between one or the other yet.

Earlier this week I finished End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood; I've been meaning to read something by him for a long time, and vaguely had an idea that he had written a sequence of books (or maybe more than one, I don't know), so when I saw the book on the shelf my first instinct was to check that it was not "Book One of..." End of the World Blues centres on Kit Nouveau, a British ex-pat living in Tokyo. He runs a bar with his Japanese wife, a famous artist, and teaches English to a woman he is having an affair with.

A series of events leave him convinced that someone wants him dead, and so when his dead ex-girlfriend's mobster mother visits to ask for help in finding out whether or not his ex really is dead, he leaves Japan pretty quickly and begins investigating. Neku is a Japanese teenager who tags along with him; she is also one of the last humans from the far future and her presence in our time is as much a mystery to her as it is to the reader. The novel alternates scenes from now with scenes of a strange feudal future in the last years of Earth, and while this makes for an interesting novel I'm not entirely convinced that it makes for a totally satisfying experience. The disconnect between the two eras is quite profound, not least because there is very little crossover between the two storylines. Neku isn't out to change the future or perform some desperate mission - which quite refreshing, a time traveller not out to save the world in some way - but at the same time the expectation at the start that she is there to perform some vital service fizzles out (especially since she is dramatically introduced into Kit's life).

End of the World Blues is an interesting novel, and an engaging read; for me, it's main flaw was that the scenes in the far future could have been skipped without effecting the enjoyment or understanding of the parts of the novel set in the present day.

Dr. No is the sixth James Bond novel, and while it's not one of my 101 things to read all of the Bond books I have a feeling that I might have managed that by the time my 30th birthday rolls around. Fleming's genius is taking us on a real escapist journey, and making the reader feel as though they really are there with James Bond as he tangles with the henchmen of the mysterious Dr. No, or that we are living the high life as a double-0 agent.

I don't want to spoil any of the story at all; it's as well-crafted as any of the Bond stories that I have read so far, with a mix of glamour, danger and excitement, bound together by the paradox of cold-hearted killer and ladies' man that is James Bond. I'll keep my eyes peeled for Goldfinger once Script Frenzy is over and I am back to borrowing from the library.

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