A Love of Reading, The Second Collection: More Reviews of Contemporary Fiction
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Fourteen brilliant new reviews from the author of A Love of Reading. Passionate, thought provoking, and witty.
A Love of Reading, the Second Collection contains 14 new reviews of modern classics from a discriminating, highly entertaining, and prodigiously well-read guide.
In a stimulating selection, ranging from Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace to Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and from Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain to Sheri Holman’s The Dress Lodger, popular literary critic Robert Adams skilfully interweaves a nimble and enlightening discussion of plot, theme, and characterization with fascinating historical, biographical, and literary context. Adams is repeatedly drawn to the spectacle of less-than-perfect humans making their way in a hostile world, and as a result his reviews are a hugely satisfying mix of rich pathos and abundant humour. In the words of the Calgary Herald, they are “a bibliophile’s dream.”
manifest itself. Six years earlier, she had come to the little commune near Salem to join with the others in growing marijuana and selling their own pottery and leather goods at the market in nearby Grahamstown. When the commune broke up, Lucy had stayed on with her friend and lover Helen. Her father had helped her to buy the five hectares of land. Now Helen, too, has left, and Lucy is alone on the farm. At the market on Saturdays, there she is, with the neighbouring stalls run by black African
following Buddhism at the same time to satisfy their deeper spiritual needs. But Shinto nationalism governed the whole of their daily lives. Because of their view of themselves and their emperor, they regarded all other races as innately inferior. Thus, as the Japanese conquered more and more of the nations of the Pacific Rim, more and more conquered peoples became victims of Japanese military brutality. These included Malaysians, Manchurians, Filipinos, and Chinese, but the worst treated were
was sure that, when he died, Christ would be waiting to take him by the hand and lead him to reunion with my mother. Judaism offers no such consolation; all we know is that we hold this life as a gift from God, and we are responsible for living it to the full. That is why I agree with Roth that Jews, neither more nor less moral than other people, do live more intensely a life they perceive as being all there is. In any event, Roth’s defence that his Jewish characters were not only themselves but
mystery. God is easy compared with men.’ ” (pp. 67-68) Her view of her marriage as a failure comes slowly but it comes inexorably: “I liked him well enough. We met in the breakfast room on a steaming Delhi day and he fanned me with The Times. I thought he had a good face, a sweet voice, and his backside was high and well formed for a man of his age. Very good. Now, every time I learn something more about him I like him less.” (p. 67) Alsana does not hesitate to generalize from her own
One remembers Alsana protesting Samad’s inadequacy as a wage earner by stripping off her clothes and putting them on the dinner table, demanding to know if they were edible. There is Dickensian coincidence. Millat and Magid Iqbal, five thousand miles apart, each breaks his nose at almost the same time. But, above all, there is Dickensian exuberance. Both Zadie Smith and Dickens exult in the glorious range of humanity. The book is a wonderful chorus of voices rising up from a true cross-section