The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 29 April 2010

The City and The City

Hello Gentle

I have had the greatest pleasure of reading a nice entertaining novel by the charming and handsome China Mieville (see a picture to a link below). The novel's title and name "The City & The City," was a detective/noir and thriller novel that at first moved slow, but gradually picked up in speed and hitting a large climatic max, and does not slow down from there.

A lovely and fun read, but also there was great fun in thinking whose doing this, or doing that, and i must say i did enjoy this novel very much for it was fun, and entertaining, and not once kept me bored.

One thing i did notice Mr. China Mieville is that he has a ear for dialogue, and is able to make every conversation run and go smoothly, and flow natural. its not wooden, or stiff. What makes dialogue so important in this tale is its a detective/noir fiction, and our narrator and protagonist Tyador Borlu, is not what someone would say a "lone wolf," of a detective but rather is a modern detective relying on his friends, resources, and colleagues to help him as much as they can. That's what makes dialogue in such a tale so important is that, is that one character is working with another character and communication is key in society and with any relationship. The dialogue itself, gives this entire tale a real nice touch, and that it works so smoothly and not just the following:

"How are you?"
"good, you?"
"I am good. How was your day?"

Instead of asking question after question, after question, which can get very boring very fast, Mr. China Mieville, makes the conversations flow as if these are real people, working on a real case. That's what makes it so special.

One thing i did notice with the "The City & The City," is that some details are missing, that does keep the reader in the dark, as on how the two cities can co-exist, their past, the past turmoils, when the formation of "Breach," was made, and a lot about the legend of Orciny (hopefully i spelt that right) or rather the "the third," city that exists between the two others (Beszel and Ul Qoma).

However this small lack of detail does not actually hinder the novels plot, or the story telling that China Mieville is capable of and gifted of, but rather just only linger as small gaps. China Mieville makes up for these small gaps in his excellent talent of weaving a plot, creating memorable and liking characters, for having his characters speak like normal people -- curse words and all. However i did notice that one of the characters used the term "Bollocks," a few times which i think is strictly English slang. Though this is tow eastern European countries/cities (the setting) and they may evidently have English influences in language (most of the characters are highly educated and can speak English).

In all this was a wonderful novel to read, which kept me entertained, and enjoyed the read, very much. I praise China Mieville for his great use of prose, and his excellent story telling skills.

I had just also, seen that this novel: "The City & The City," by China Mieville, has been nominated in April 2010 as a Hugo Award Nominee in the Best Novel Category. This novel has also won the BFSA (British Science Fiction Association) Award as well as the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

This has been my first novel I had the pleasure of reading by China Mieville, and i am sure it will not be my last. For my expectations, were proved right and even surpassed in this novel. I greatly enjoyed China Mieville's novel and i look forward to reading more of his novels. The one i have my eyes set on right now is his new novel come out May 7th 2010 called "Kraken." However i will have to roughly wait until June 15 2010 to read this novel, but i am certainly looking forward to watching China Mieville's career grow, and to read the novels that he will continue to put out.

Thank-you for reading Gentle Reader
as always: stay well read.

Yours truly



The Promised picture of the handsome devil cannot be posted for whatever reason. but if you are curious to see what he looks like i encourage you to check "google images."

Thursday 15 April 2010

Iris Murdoch

Hello Gentle Reader

Recently from i had ordered three novels (one is a large collection of three novels in one large novel) one of the novels that i ordered was "The Black Prince," by Iris Murdoch.

This young, life full filling author and philosopher has been said to be one of the greatest British writers since 1945 ranking number twelve (#12). i am both excited and pleased to receive this novel, by Iris Murdoch. I have looked hard in book stores for one of her novels, and so far i was unable to find one that carried one of her novels, but now that i have a novel written by this dear lady heading my way (i should be expecting this novel around April 16 - April 21st).

I do like to get rather close to the author (or as close as i can) when i read one of their

novels. Usually upon reading about the author, is how i come to the judgement, of whether or not i want to read one of their books. To me a book is just as important as the author.

I first stumbled upon Iris Murdoch by goofing around on wikipeda, by searching for philosophical novels, and i came across the curios title: "The Sea, The Sea," I read over the page about this book, and from there i discovered Iris Murdoch. A few years later, i stumbled upon this writer again, on another website:

Where i came across other novels written by the dear, Ms. Murdoch. Many of them i thought would be fascinating reads, and entertaining. For literature and philosophy go hand in hand, they are also different in many aspects as well, and Iris Murdoch, and other novelists of her time such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and even Franz Kafka, could entertain the reader and mix in some philosophical discussions without becoming tedious and boring like a text book.

Now maybe half a year later i find myself, going to read a novel, by Iris Murdoch, for i have already some works by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ayn Rand. One (or i shall anyhow) admit that i do enjoy philosophy and literature especially, and i do think that the two mix well together, creating both an entertaining novel, but also idea approaching novel as well, in order to help the reader, with their lives, or give them at least a new understanding of life itself.

Back to Iris Murdoch though:

Iris Murdoch was born July 15 1919, and was educated in progressive boarding schools where she read the classics of literature, ancient history and philosophy. From 1938 (like other Oxford contemporaries) Iris found herself engaged in the communist party. However after her philosophical thoughts started to form on their own, Iris left the party. Though she remained very close towards the "Left," of the political spectrum (like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.) This party affiliation made it very difficult for Iris Murdoch to receive a visa into the United States (you know the entire fear of communism, can't have any outsider coming in and spreading any Stalin ideologies). Years later Iris Murdoch had commented on her membership to the party: "how strong and how awful (Marxism) is, certainly in its organized form."

In 1954 saw the debut novel of Iris Murdoch titled "Under the Net," from there she would publish 25 more works of literature in novels, and drama (not 25 each may i add.). Iris Murdoch then met her future husband Jonh Bailey in 1956. Skip years ahead to 1995, when the first effects of the horrible disease of alzheimer's took form as a writers block. Iris Murdoch then perished in February 8 1999.

In 2003 a nasty little biography came out, written by A.N. Wilson, titled "Iris Murdoch as I Knew Her." which was quick to through dirt and mud on the poor dead woman's face. the writer A.N. Wilson did write about his affections for the dearly departed Iris Murdoch, he did not hesitate or even show restraint when talking about her "disloyalty's," and "promiscuity." Truly in my opinion its just someone trying to get even with someone else who did not share the same affection in my opinion. This writer further went to defiling the memory of Iris Murdoch in 2009 on BBC Radio 4 by saying that her philosophical works amounted to nothing but "GCSE-style"(General Certificate of Secondary Education) essays on Plato. However another biography came out in 2001 by Peter J. Condari which was well more received, and did not mud sling or soil the memory and works of Iris Murdoch.

Iris Murdoch, love her or hate her, or even have no opinion on her, it is undoubtedly, noticeable that her impact on the 20th century is apparent, and well seen, by those with eyes and can look far enough into it. As Thomas Davies and Margaret Atwood have done for Canadian Literature, Iris Murdoch had done roughly the same.

Thank-you for your Time Gentle Reader
Thank-you for reading

i look forward to writing a review on "The Black Prince," as soon as i get it done.


All Information has come from these sources:

Sunday 11 April 2010

The Blind Assassin

Hello Gentle Reader

I had just finished, and by just i mean roughly ten minutes ago, finished reading Margaret Atwood's Booker Prize winning novel: "The Blind Assassin."

I could have waited until roughly Thursday to write this review but i enjoyed it so much that i feel that it would be best to write it right now, while the tale, was still fresh in my head, and the lingering enjoyment; like the sweet taste of sugar lingers on your tongue, lingers in my mind.

The metaphor of "The Blind Assassin," by Margaret Atwood is compared to has been used so much that i thought i would used it as well. Alot like a matryoshka doll (Russian Doll), Margaret Atwood removes the many shells of this tale of a woman looking back on her life, and her sister, and their relationship, and the destruction of the family as they know it, and the slow deterioration of their lives, so perfectly that a person cannot help but feel as the characters do, and get emotionally charged and willing to defend them at all costs, knowing full well that they cannot.

The characterization is so deep that even though as the reader the would think of doing something, and says its justified the character would/will not be able to do it, because that would go against their characterization, though as the reader may get a certain satisfaction of it being done, the results would be bitter, and not feel to right. However, certain "things," do go around and around and when the time is right to strike, it is more then perfect, and the enjoyment and pride one (the reader) may feel swells inside of their (your) stomach and they just cheer with a sense of repaid justice.

The novel itself is rather large depending on which one you buy the one i had was roughly six hundred and thirty-five pages (635 pages) long, while another copy (if my research proves correct) is five hundred and thirty-six pages (536 pages) long. Relatively a large and detailed novel.

Genre wise this novel is Historical Fiction but also what critics call "Southern-Ontario Gothic," -- a genre that focuses on moral hypocrisy, the grotesque, mental illness, and is harsh realism (sometimes there is some supernatural aspects thrown into this genre but none in "The Blind Assassin,")

Many historical events, as the two World Wars, the great depression, and other historical events play into this novel, which give it a very realistic and historical setting with characters that are fictional, but could still be your neighbor, your grandmother, granddaughter, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, mother, or father.

There is no surprise after reading this novel that it did win the Booker Prize for its realistic, earth bound, and emotional narrative. It truly was a beautiful novel, and is a novel written at Margaret Atwood's finest point, and i hope another one will be put out, of the same quality after it.

This novel had made me angry at the villainy of the pastel wearing Winfred "Freedi," who was as passive aggressive and as evil as a pastel fashion wearing arrogant "new money," woman ever got/gets. Richard his sly and almost "political," disgusting motives make a person want to vomit. to the quietly powerful Iris that did her best to fight the circumstances and make do with the best she could, but then suffers immensely before taking charge and fighting back in a Iris fashion, of knowing what to do, but knowing when to do it, and even letting others sink their own ships.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a lovely complex, emotional read, where no everyone is punished, and not everything turns out alright, but still you understand that's life, and it is still slightly beautiful in its own way. For anyone that wishes a novel like that, i recommend "The Blind Assassin," by Margaret Atwood to you. It may very well be a novel that will certainly be re-read by myself in the future; and in that future there may even be large lizard men and space crafts that the likes of Alex Thomas had envisioned.

Take Care Gentle Reader
thank-you for taking your time to read this
and keep being well read