Iain Banks, Pat Barker, and My Backsliding into Buying Books

I feel as though I am no longer a book teetotaler, anorexic, or shopaholic because I’m now in the habit of buying books every Saturday again ( just when I have enough money). I have abstained  from this uncontrollable behavior for almost two months because I realized then that there are still a great deal of books I have not read yet. Besides, I thought that they are a waste of money because some of them are now getting ” blighted” despite that they are safely stored in two big boxes. Their pages are getting  withered, blotched, dappled, dotted, eye spotted, flecked, mottled, patched, speckled. Oh, I’m now hyperbolic. I can’t stand being obsessed over them changing like that. In fact,I am now persnickety about book covers. I enjoy reading books  more if they are in pristine conditions.

Even so, I was at ease for a short while  because I could save money unlike before despite that I had this persistent withdrawal-symptom-like situation. I tried to restrain myself from dropping into the book store. The idea of dropping into that place was always haunting me like a ghost  appearing out of nowhere. Indeed, I’m sick. It was just as well that I was engaged in a charity event every Saturday- my moral compass.

However, I could not stand my impulse any longer. I had the chance to visit it when I didn’t have classes at night during the typhoon last week. There I was, after two months, surrounded with the stacks of books higher than me. I basked in their musty musk ,and was riveted on their iridescent covers. I was like a book vulture again, scavenging on a heap of second-hand books. I was making sure that the names of the authors still sounded Greek to me. Usually, I read my list of the best novels in the world before I go to that book store, but I didn’t do so since it was a capricious decision.

The outlet of the book store has not changed yet. Luckily, there were a few customers at that time , so I didn’t need to elbow myself through the crowd . The cashier is still working there who must be familiar with me already. I was reading his mind .

“Look, the bizarro man is back. I’m sure he will be staying here until we are closed.”

As usual, I am familiar with one distinct pattern of behavior common among us bibliophiles- to look after the books you have found or you will pore over whether you will buy them or not.

As a matter of fact, little did I know that the book store was selling on sale. So, eventually, I bought four books , 3 of which have the same author- Iain M. Banks

13632677_10206948673537120_949121783_o

I bought Canal Dreams, The Player of Games, and The State of  the Art . Each was only 35 pesos.

I decided to buy  Iain Banks’s works not only because he impressed me with his The Crow Road ( 5/ 5 stars ), The Bridge ( 5 stars ), and Dead Air ( 3 stars ) , but I was enchanted by their book covers given that I wasn’t cocksure if they are included on my list. Uh-oh, I’m a different book beholder. And my gut feeling was right upon checking them on Goodreads. I could  include them in my required reading this year.However, all of them turned out to be the sequels of the first books. Alas!

Book:Canal Dreams by Iain Banks

Paperback: Abacus Fiction, 275 pages
Published :1990 by Abacus (first published 1989)

 

Synopsis: Hisako Onoda, world famous cellist, refuses to fly. And so she travels to Europe as a passenger on a tanker bound through the Panama Canal. By the end of her journey she had ignited one soldier with an oxy-acetylene torch, stabbed another through the chest with the spike of her cello, clobbered a guard with the butt of a rifle and raked terrorists with machine-gun fire before frazzling the survivors in an oil-covered sea.

 

Book:The Player of Games (Culture #2) by Iain M. Banks

Paperback: 309 pages
Published :August 10th 1989 by Orbit (first published August 1988)

Synopsis: The Culture–a humanoid/machine symbiotic society–has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel & incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

 

 Book:The State of the Art (Culture #4) by Iain M. Banks

 

Paperback: 216 pages
Published: May 27th 1993 by Orbit (first published March 1991)
Goodreads Synopsis:

The first ever collection of Iain Banks’ short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast.

The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks’ staggering talent.

To dissipate my frustration,I am just souring grapes that I will still read them. I’m curious about their stories since Iain Banks is considered as one of the best imaginative writers in his generation. The Bridge and Dead Air which I have read can bear witness to this. Much more of his The Wasp Factory which catapulted him to fame.

The other book that I bought was The Ghost Road by Pat Barker  which also turned out to be a sequel to  Regeneration . But I thought that I was still lucky to buy this, apart from the fact that it was cheap,  because I had a hard time finding other Pat Barker’s works. I have found some but  they were in bad conditions. Besides, I have always been curious about P.Barker’s works. Why is he so a buzzword among readers? I will find out sooner or later.

13647010_10206948673097109_1400358334_o

Book :The Ghost Road (Regeneration #3) by Pat Barker

Paperback: 278 pages
Published : 1996 by Penguin Books (first published 1995)
Synopsis:

The final book in the Regeneration Trilogy, and winner of the 1995 Booker Prize

The Ghost Road is the culminating masterpiece of Pat Barker’s towering World War I fiction trilogy. The time of the novel is the closing months of the most senselessly savage of modern conflicts. In France, millions of men engaged in brutal trench warfare are all “ghosts in the making.” In England, psychologist William Rivers, with severe pangs of conscience, treats the mental casualties of the war to make them whole enough to fight again. One of these, Billy Prior, risen to the officer class from the working class, both courageous and sardonic, decides to return to France with his fellow officer, poet Wilfred Owen, to fight a war he no longer believes in. Meanwhile, Rivers, enfevered by influenza, returns in memory to his experience studying a South Pacific tribe whose ethos amounted to a culture of death. Across the gulf between his society and theirs, Rivers begins to form connections that cast new light on his–and our–understanding of war.

Combining poetic intensity with gritty realism, blending biting humor with tragic drama, moving toward a denouement as inevitable as it is devastating, The Ghost Road both encapsulates history and transcends it. It is a modern masterpiece.

Another thing that was added to my disappointment was that I regret not having bought a critically-acclaimed book because of its bad condition,The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers; it has been scrawled with some comments which must have been done by a literary critic, and two books which may be popular among the literati because of their compelling reviews at their back covers:Pure by Andrew Miller  and One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School by Scott Turow .I hope I can still find them. Better luck next time.

As long as possible I want to avoid splurging on books I will just store for a longer period of time. Besides, I realized that I can only buy a new one  if I have almost read half of the books I haven’t even laid a finger on, especially if  that one is  rare. What an oxymoron resolution!How about challenging myself to read  them within a year? In a pig’s eye! 

Just god’s will!  I will just read  and read and read. Hahaha

How about you, buddies? What books have you bought recently? 🙂

Happy Reading, everyone!

 

 

 

 

23 BOOKS IN JULY 2015

Last year, I managed to read 100 books . It was  an  astounding and fulfilling  experience I had not expected . It just so happened that I had  rude awakening  in that mid-year when I found out that Goodreads, the biggest book club site in the world , has this  challenging goal for its members including myself. You can set a reading goal as many as you can. The site monitors how many reads you have done so far which I am a little quite pressured about. However,  I realized that you don’t need to keep up with the goal. Just enjoy the book. You can  understand it more.

Since I  just created my own book blog  in March this year, it is now too late for me to share the books I  have read  for the past 4 months. So I will just share the ones I read in July, the month when  I was so   obsessed with reading more books.

Supposedly, I must read only the books on   my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads. However,  I  drew my attention to the local  books   I bought on sale. Well, that’s the way a bookworm and book lover  is.

The books are more on poems, LGBT, essays, children books, novellas, and short stories.

 

1. Human Decency by Gong Ji Young ( 3/5 stars ). One of the Korean fictions my nun student gave to me as a pasalubong ( gift ) coming from her country. I liked the story because its plot is quite enigmatic and misleading.

2. Saling Pusa by Genaro R. Gojo Cruz ( 1/ 5 stars ) I had had a hard time looking for its copy at National Book Store branches .

Not much satisfied with its story but I was glad to have read one of Genaro Cruz’s children books since I am now his  avid fan  upon reading his YA Connecting the Dots: Kung Paano Ko Kinulayan ang Aking Buhay.

I  have still been  hunting his other works such as Si Tolits, Jeep ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahaghari, Ang Malaking Kahon ng Sorpresa,Pitong AngelAng Aking PamilyaHello, Tatay!Ang Asul na KaritonMalaking Malaking BahayAng Kamisetang Dilaw. and Si Nanay Mining at ang Tatlong Kuting

I am now a Genaronian. (laughs)

3. Nanay Coring by Yvette Hernandez ( 2/ 5 stars ) A simple story – enough to educate children how the National Book Store reached its apogee under the indefatigable determination of Nanay Coring

4.Angkas by Aris Santos ( 3 / 5 stars ) An LGBT short story which opens narrow-minded individuals’ eyes to the real internal feelings of a gay toward a straight man.

5. Hangganan by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) Another eye-opener LGBT short story. The story is realistic that only LGBT community can understand.

6. Best Man by Aris Santos ( 3/ 5 stars ) It could be my most favorite work of Aris Santos. I cringed at the story , but its concept bespeaks that there is such thing Love Triangle  between a gay and man and a woman. Enough said!

7. A Dwarf Launches a Little Ball by Cho Se-Hui ( 3/ 5 stars )  Another story  that illustrates what a really knitted Korean family looked like  when Korea was still a poor country.

8. Father Solo and other stories by Isagani R. Cruz ( 5/ 5 stars ) Thanks to Isagani . I have now the confidence to write.

9. The Soul Mate Meets its Mate by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) I did not like the story- ill-thought and slapdash. It could be a chit-lit. Nevertheless, I admired Bala’s craft of writing.

10. Ang Kwento ng Manok at ang Asong si Patty by Arch Bala ( 4/ 5 stars ) Among Bala’s works, it is the only one that astounded and proved me wrong that he has what it takes to be a good writer. Encore, Arch! I liked this kind of story. It could be your trademark.  ^_^

11. Sapatos by Arch Bala ( 2/ 5 stars ) What happened? The beginning and the middle part are almost cliff-hanging and at the same time impressively adulterated with  the  beautiful sentences. However, its ending seems like the author was at loss for   another ideas.  God willing! Sayang!

12. Hope by Arch Bala ( 1/ 5 stars ) It just so happened that I am not Kapampangan. I had these stuffy feelings.

13. Bulosan by Carlos Bulosan ( 5 / 5 stars ) Another remarkable collections of Carlos Bulosan.

14. The Landlady by Road Dahl ( 1/ 5 stars ) The longer I read Road Dahl’s stories, the more I come to realize that I don’t enjoy his works much. I still have some of his other short stories, but I will still hang in there.

15. Bight, Catholic-and Gay by Danton Remoto ( 4/ 5 stars ) I admire Danton Remoto’s writing styles. He is one of the writers along with Doris Lessing, and Isagani R. Cruz who made me muster enough confidence that I CAN  write.

16. The Secret of the Cave and Other  Stories for young  readers by Ed Maranan ( 3/ 5 stars ) Light and typical of Filipino writing

17. Ladlad 3 by Danton Remoto ( 5/ 5 stars ) At last I have completed this classic LGBT literature. I hope to read its new edition.

 18. Sugar and Salt by Nichotchka Rosca ( 5/ 5 stars ) Rotska has this gall to experiment a literary work. It is a W. O.W.!

19. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White ( 3 / 5 stars ) A philosophical book that an average young reader might not have an idea of what this book is really all about.

20. Pulot Gata by Danton Remoto ( 3/ 5 stars ) Read between the lines. ^^

21. Twisted Travels by Jessica Zafra ( 3/ 5 stars) Now I understand why Jessica Zafra is an immortal writer.

22. Gaydar by Danton Remot ( 5/ 5 stars ) Danton Remoto said , “ You CAN write after all.”

23. Where the Boys Are by Richard Labonte ( 3/5 stars ) An erotica which narrow-minded , or to put it bluntly, hypocrite, readers might cringe at.

I haven’t written my reviews of the books above yet   on account of my demanding job.  I need enough time to do so.

In this August ,  I will be clearing out  my currently –reading shelf on Goodreads. The books have been collecting dust bunnies and mice.

  1. Moby Dick by Herman Merville. I miss reading a classic steeped in old English words.
  2.  A Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I want to understand Nelson Mandela’s fighting spirit again.
  3. Thinking by John Brockman . It is  mental calisthenics.
  4. Dead Air by Iain Banks. I learned that it is not a good read, but still I will give it a try.

When I am tired of their hefty contents, I might turn  to:

  1. A Man in the Dark by Paul Austere.
  2. Jungle of No Memory: A Memoir of a Japanese Soldier by Hiroyuki Mizuguchi.
  3. Spartacus by Howard Fast . Little did I realize that I am fond of reading books on ancient military.

So far I have read 2 book for the first week of August.I am now kicking to  bury myself in those  above-mentioned  books.  ^^

Happy Reading to everyone! ^_^

The Bridge by Iain Banks : A Book Review

TheBridgeWhile I was burying myself in this book, I was vacillating anywhere between 4 and 3 STARS. Every chapter left me to twist in the wind.

4 STARS

Iain Banks is immortal for how he begins his novel just the like of his famous one, THE CROW ROAD. In THE BRIDGE, I liked its opening, describing the bridge with beautiful sentences- something savory, something musical to my ears when I read it aloud, something that is imagined in awe.

“The road cleared the cutting through the hills. He could see South Queensferry, the marina at Port Edgar, the VAT 69 sign of the distillery there, the lights of Hewlett Packard’s factory; and the rail bridge, dark in the evening’s last sky-reflected light. Behind it, more lights; the Hound Point oil terminal they’d had a sub-contract on, and, further away, the lights of Leith. The old rail bridge’s hollow metal bones looked the color of dried blood.”

Notably, with the background in psychology, I enjoyed keeping up with the characters –from John Orr, one of the protagonists to the dour shrinker, along with his two delusional patients. Although feeling a tingle of scare, I absorbed myself in it more; I could not put it down-I just read and read.

Another thing that spiced up my interest is the psychological tests, which were given to the protagonist, I had been preoccupied with. I could not analyze what the relevance of those tests.

Besides, an ignorant atheist may raise a question if NDE (Near-Death-Experience) has something to do with afterlife. But, for sure, a deep-rooted believer might insist so.

3 STARS

Fiddlesticks! I enjoyed the beginning a lot until I reached the part incited me to get annoyed because I could not make out the Scottish accent rendered in phonetic words. I was interested at first, but it took me a lot of effort to decipher the dialogues among the camouflaged entities until I gave up because the story seems to be different since I had been preoccupied with the first story- as though I moved to another dimension in a comatose state I was not familiar with. So I was just trying to be more patient because I knew it was Banks ‘intention.

4 STARS
I found transisting to another dimension more interesting. There was something new. And at this time, I liked Iain Banks more. I can now recognize his styles for writing; he is like a raconteur. There is something about his styles that I tend to read smoothly, calmly despite the fact that his book is steeped in violent and hostile situations. He gave me an inspiration how to be a writer.

1 STAR
I said it! I had expected to pass this nose-bleeding part. I wanted to get furious, with the tears welling up in my eyes. I felt like spitting on Banks- he should not have written such parts. So I just skipped it since I could not figure out the phonetics even though speaking with Scottish accent sounds interesting, but not like this- somewhat stuffy. I had almost been attached to the real story as though I did not like to separate myself from the protagonist. Uh-oh! I was disappointed. So, I was sick and tired of the same situation as though I wanted to get out of that wacky world. I could not wait for what would become of John Orr. But still, I was trying to hang in there.

5 STARS
At last, I appreciated this book a whole lot. I had gone out of that quizzical and mind-boggling world. I had patched every story together. I had understood why everything had been going all along. I could not believe my eyes that I had felt those feelings. I had been carried away by Iain Banks. I was speechless at the end of the story, with some questions niggling in the chambers of my mind. It iss a big WOW! If I did not have too many books on my list to read, I could re-read it beyond the shadow of doubt.

To understand the real concept of the book, I browsed through the Wikipedia. Eventually, I realized that the story centers around the three protagonists: Alex (full name hinted to be Alexander Lennox, but never explicitly named), John Orr and The Barbarian, the character in the “epistaxis “ parts.

Iain Banks thought that of the novels he had written, this is his personal favorite.
“Definitely the intellectual of the family, it’s the one that went away to University and got a first. I think The Bridge is the best of my books.”

No doubt! I have not been able to get over this book yet. I have still been trying to digest and assimilate all the stories. Like the brain-teasing psychological tests given, it is like a whodunit novel. I have still big WHYs?

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing. )