Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Interview, A Few Books Read

Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.


Just a small update today. If you’re interested, you can get a whole lot of me over at Breaking the Glass Slipper, where I am interviewed by Megan Leigh. We talk about things like diversity, gender equality, being an author, and a bunch of authors.

I’ve been writing a few little pocket reviews, of late. I don’t really have the time to write big reviews like I used to (or, admittedly, the inclination), but I’ve been deliberately trying to read more, and occasionally, after I finish a book, I write a paragraph on facebook. I took to dropping them on Goodreads, for no real reason. I’ll probably be erratic about it, but here’s the three I put there. The first is China Mieville’s This Census-Taker, second is Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, and the last is Hilary Mantel’s The Giant, O’Brien. I enjoyed the last most. It was my third Mantel book and I am vaguely of the opinion that I should write her quiet fan letters.


This Census-Taker, China Mieville.

China Mieville’s This Census-Taker is a bit of a missed opportunity, I think.

It’s nicely written (though you do have to ignore Mieville’s clumsy shifts to second person for that). It has a few moments where it’s interesting and creepy, but most of the parts you want more of exist off the page, in the edges, and folds of the book. The census-taker, the keys, the world, all of it is lost in the unreliable narrative of the traumatised boy. If you really like that narrative, the novella will work for you in a big way, but if you find it lacking, you’ll just find it a book that never gets off the ground. Disappointing, but it happens.


Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie.

I liked Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights quite a bit. My original thought, early on in the novel, was that it would be good, but only okay by Rushdie’s output, and that proved right. There was a moment where I thought it would be something else, but the end was a bit on the flat side, so, yeah – but the rating for this, I feel I should say, is three only because I hold Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses in such high regards. If another author had not written those books, it’d be different.

Regardless, it is a fine and excellent book. Better than most out there. If you are keen on a progressive, fantasy fable driven novel, you will enjoy it quite a bit.


The Giant, O’Brien, Hilary Mantel.

Hilary Mantel’s The Giant, O’Brien, is pretty cool. It’s the third book of Mantel’s I’ve read – Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are the other two – and it is probably the darkest of the three. After finishing it, however, I feel like I should write Mantel a little fan letter, and tell her how much I appreciate her use of language, her turns of phrases.

The Giant, O’Brien, is the story of a giant, somewhat mythical, who makes his way from Ireland to England with a band of friends. His goal is to make some money, and return home to alleviate the poverty he and his friends live in. But in England, his size, and the fables he tells, are good enough for a month or two of fame, and soon the corruption of the modern world descends on them. The giant’s narrative is contrasted against that of a surgeon, John Hunter, who pays people to steal bodies for him, and who is interested only in education, in learning. He begins as a slightly distasteful sort, but by the end of the novel, he is one of the few who treats the giant well.

Like I said, it’s a dark book, and darkly humorous at times. But it’s an excellent little book, really, and I will be reading the rest of Mantel’s work.

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