Writing with an update for the reading list. I finished Temple in three days flat, it was that good. Caimans, tanks in giant airplanes, rapas, even the odd German neo-Nazi wanting to explode the world with a Supernova device. All the best qualities of Matthew Reilly books are to be found in his masterful description of time and place, allowing you to practically sink into the story itself as if you were one of the characters, watching as everyone else got eaten on the monitor of the Humvee, running away from Blackhawk helicopters, falling through the air in an extremely large tank. I found myself saying No! Race can’t be dead! at almost every chapter turn. It’s been a while since I read a fast-paced, high action novel like Temple and I’m glad I went back to it, I think I needed it.
In other news I also recently received a long-awaited shipment of novels as the result of a Christmas present, which contained Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut), Portnoy’s Complaint (Philip Roth) and The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), all of which are books I’ve wanted for a long time. I began with Slaughterhouse Five, as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it through my literary classes at Uni and it’s relatively thin.
But, like they say good things come in small packages and Slaughterhouse Five is no exception. It’s brilliantly written, and after reading it I really wish Tralfamadorians did exist because it would make life a whole lot more interesting. Just saying. For those of you who don’t know it’s basically a short, semi-autobiographical novel of Vonnegut’s time in World War Two, presumably. He dedicates the first chapter to rambling about himself, and by chapter two he’s right into the story of Billy Pilgrim who becomes the main character. He goes to Dresden and is right in the middle of the Dresden bombing as an American POW, and also becomes a zoo exhibit of the Tralfamadorians who have some interesting ways of thinking about life and death. I’m thinking maybe Pilgrim’s supposed ‘time travel’ and his talk of the Tralfamadorians is actually him experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, which was common in the aftermath of World War Two. It makes more sense if you read the novel, but trust me it’s worth your time! It’s left me a lot to think about, and I would recommend it to any reader interested in knowing a bit about the real world and how people see it through different lenses.
Right now I’ve gone back to my roots as first and foremost a fantasy reader and jumped into Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan, which I picked up at a Rotary book sale sometime last year. It’s an interesting novel, that’s for sure. I’m only about a hundred or so pages in at the moment, but what I’ve seen so far could turn into a very interesting story or a huge flop. It’s all in how the writer puts their story across, that’s what I’ve found as both a reader and a wannabe writer in training. A warning, though- if you don’t like stories based on Bible legend, then don’t read Vellum. If you like ones on general legend and the Underworld, a mysterious book and a crossing over of different dimensions then by all means go ahead. I have managed to find some parallels in Duncan’s writing style with that of Nick Harkaway, the author of The Gone-Away World, but there’s a slightly different tilt on it which might take some readers a while to get used to, the lack of speech marks a definite contributor. It’s a refreshing take on writing setup.
Anyway, as soon as I finish it I’ll put an update on here, let you know how things are going.