Sunday, 19 August 2012

More summer reading

I sat up very late at the weekend to finish The Hunger Games which I couldn't put down. I've also finished three volumes of Helen Simpson's short stories and ordered another one.

From Hey Yeah Right Get a Life I particularly enjoyed Cheers where Lois goes into London to do some Christmas shopping and lunch with a friend, passing the afternoon in a flurry of 'packed shops and glitter and cash.' Despite her friend's near emotional breakdown over lunch and the abusive drunk on the train and the bus escapade on the way home which leaves her walking the frosty streets at midnight. Despite all that, she sees the Christmas trees lit up in the windows she passes and thinks of the rooms 'balmy with spice, evergreen and zest' and feels a surge of happiness.

Caput Apri is a magical story from the Dear George collection where an overbearing father relentlessly bullies his family one Christmas until his son slips a 'Discobiscuit' into his coffee. The hallucinogen seems to have the reverse effect and the father turns into a wild boar raging and hollering around the house until rescued by his long-suffering wife he is restored to humanity and becomes a loving father and husband. This is a clever tale within a tale told in the pub over mulled wine by three woman escaping a family Christmas.

There is a story in In-Flight Entertainment set in 2040 which is not so far from The Hunger Games. Diary of an Interesting Year is a nightmare vision of a dystopia where humans have to kill each other to survive. The story is relayed in diary form by a thirty year old female. In a post-capitalist world with the environment destroyed, sick of foraging and bartering for food, she dreams of soap and water, fresh air, condoms (there is a perpetual fear of pregnancy) and the days when she could order a pair of patent leather boots with a single click on the internet.

Anyone read the second volume of The Hunger Games trilogy? Do I need to steal borrow it from my daughter?


Cath said...

I have The Hunger Games on my tbr pile but have not got around to it yet. I clearly need to do something about that.

Darlene said...

The Hunger Games trilogy has been a huge success at the library this summer so I would say swiping the next book from your daughter is a definite 'yes'! The most senior customer I've encountered was in his sixties, he LOVED the books.

I really like the sound of 'Cheers', Nicola. After an incredibly hot summer I'm so looking forward to the sights and smells of Christmas. My library doesn't have this collection in stock yet though so some prodding is in order!

Bellezza said...

I read the first of the trilogy and liked it well enough; although I didn't love it. Then, when I bought and read the second I was hooked! Now I still have the third to look forward to, but it is a most intriguing series. I think what I like best about it is the political commentary the author makes. Which often doesn't feel too far from the one in which I'm living!

I don't know the author of the month in your sidebar, so I look forward to your thoughts on her.

lifeonthecutoff said...

Our book discussion group is considering reading The Hunger Games, at my suggestion. I have not as yet read it, though it lingers atop the pile, waiting for me to finish I Capture the Castle.=. Everyone and anyone I know, from teens to grannies, say to keep reading the series.

Cathy at PotterJotter said...

I like the idea of short stories, as, sorry to say, sometimes I don't get round to finishing a book, for whatever reason, so the Helen Simpsons sound good. Thanks for your nice comment the other day! xCathy

Kat said...

Nicola, I haven't tried Helen Simpson, but certainly will after reading this. Short stories suit my mood right now. I was thinking of reading an anthology, but Simpson sounds better.

I loved The Hunger Games, loved the sequel less, and didn't finish the third. But I don't want to put you off the sequels. I was glued to the second one, but then it ended on an OBVIOUS cliffhanger: perhaps even telling us that we'd have to buy the next book. And so...

Sunday Taylor said...

I have been so curious about the Hunger Games. I may have to look into it now after reading your post. I also like the sound of "Cheers," and as Darlene wrote, I am looking forward to a book about winter holidays. Fall and winter sound really good about now!

Anbolyn said...

Catching Fire was my least favorite of the HG trilogy, but you have to read it to see how the story progresses!
My library has one Helen Simpson book and your admiration has made me curious and I just might have to check it out. Reading short stories in the bath is one of my favorite past times :)

Buried In Print said...

Simpson's stories are just so great, aren't they?! I have a hard time not gulping them all in one go when I have a collection at hand. I don't have the most recent, but I think I did read that futuristic tale as a standalone in a magazine (maybe "The New Yorker"?); images from it still haunt me, a couple of years later. Yikes.

Stephen Page said...

I love reading late into the night. Good review.

Vintage Reading said...

Cath, I think you would like The Hunger Games - the game itself is very brutal but idea is very clever.

Darlene, re. The Hunger Games, I've found it quite nice to read a book my daughter has read and to discuss it together - usually they don't share my tastes.

Bellezza, yes I think The Hunger Games are a clever reflection on our times. I will read Catching Fire.

lifeonthecutoff - well you can't hurry I Capture the Castle! Fab book with charming narrator.

Cathy, there isn't much to drag me away from my beloved novels, but a really good short story will!

Kat, I will read Catching Fire, probably won't bother with Mockingjay but y'never know! Thanks for recommendation.

Sunday Taylor, we've had a bit of a heatwave these last days of summer, but today I do feel autumnal. Beautiful time of year and then of course, reading tastes change.

Anbolyn, please don't read those nice classic hardbacks you just bought in the bath - might drop them! I'll give Catching Fire a whirl and see how I like it.

Buried in Print - yes Simpsons's stories have appeared in many publications so you may well have seen it. I wish she was more prolific.

Stephen Page, yup reading late is a luxury I can only afford on a Friday or Saturday though now or I don't make it to work!