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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

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Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blog. Here’s a roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

It’s never too late to discover a great book. This week, electricgrapefruit read Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee for the first time:

It has gone right in near the top of my top ten. How have I got to 65 without reading this gem? It may be a writing style that has gone out of fashion but present day writers could learn a lot about capturing atmosphere in words from Laurie Lee.

It presents a very good overview over the historical development and current state of evolutionary psychology. [...] Wright’s book offers insights into human nature, and is fun to read (as far as anything concerning human nature can ever be fun). One of the delicacies of the book is that he illustrates principles of evolutionary psychology by using Darwin’s biography. That way we look at Darwin’s behaviour, marriage and family from the point of view of a Darwin-inspired psychology, which is quite amusing.

I am not sure what to think of this tale set in an extermination camp during the holocaust. Is it an entertainment or a serious attempt to reveal the banality of evil? Amis has been down this way before. Time’s Arrow was, to my mind at least, a better book which succeeded on many levels including the shock of the author’s idea.

The Zone of Interest tries too hard and in so doing manages to make me think that yet another cruelty or nastiness is about to be revealed, or even another banality. I don’t dislike the book but it slips and slides between ideas and narrators and Amis in the end fails to convince me. I am not at all sure that he truly understands the camp commander Doll, the man who is in love with his wife Thomsen and the Sonderkommando Szmul whose task it is to exhume and burn the bodies putrefying in their mass grave and fouling the local water with their “plopping, splatting and hissing.” [...]

Amis explains so much of what I read in the papers these days. When morality and humanity fail we should beware of what the outcome might be.

It was a horrible experience to read it. I cried a lot. I learned that Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyons” who sent over 14,000 to death in the Hotel Terminus in Lyons, used new techniques of torture including sexually abusing prisoners with dogs. His defence, conducted by Jacques Verges, said that what Klaus did was no different than what the French did during the Vichy regime and the colonial government in Algeria.

As you read the book one cannot help but realise how devious, how disgusting the politicians were and that they have not changed: be it French, British, German or US [...] It is an interesting read and an eye opener.

“My own theory is that everyone wants to write novels, but those who discover they don’t have the requisite imagination find suitable subjects and become writers of non-fiction and those who discover they can’t do that either become journalists. Expecting no plaudits, only brickbats here, I believe people do, not what they would like to do, but what they can do and still remain part of a career to which they once aspired.” —conedison

“I would, partly, disagree with you full-stop. Glancing over my shoulder and running my eye along the shelf I can see: Nicolas Bouvier, Bruce Chatwin, Kathleen Jamie, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, to name but a few. Not one of them could be described as purveying prosaic prose. All of them are serious stylists whose prose outpaces that of any number of moderately well-regarded novelists. All of them are decidedly “literary” in tone and in intent. All of them are writers of nonfiction.” —TimHannigan

She took her cheque demurely and made a brief speech, in which she spoke for all those readers who never travel without a novel on bus, tube or train, picking up each morning where they left off the night before and showing no relief at the end of a book, only anxiety to get lost in yet another novel.

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