Thursday, April 23, 2015

Goat Mountain | David Vann

This is a gem of a book, from an author I have not read before. It is very intense and powerful.
The story itself is simple, a father, son and grandsons go hunting on their land over a weekend. Something horrific happens at the very beginning, and the rest of the time is spent dealing with the impact of this occurrence on the family, on the individuals, on the land on on the family's history.

Vann has written scenes where the tension mounts, it is palpable. It is very well executed and thoroughly worth reading. Vann throws in quite a bit of philosophy into the story, which I feel adds to the intensity.

There isn't much more than can be said without spoiling the novel. I will search out more of his books as he is a very skilled writer.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Off The Map: lost places, invisible cities, forgotten islands, feral places | Alastair Bonnett

This is an interesting non-fiction book which pretty much dedicates itself to the places Google forgot. Each chapter is short and reads like an essay about some location on Earth which is lost, invisible, forgotten or feral. The chapters are a brief and entertaining discourse on a particular area and the implications in society.

I found it interesting and informative, amusing and a quick read. There are some weird places still left on Earth! Good to know.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Map of Glass | Jane Urquhart

I think I loved this book first because of it's cover. Yes, the cover art made all the difference! The cover is an old black and white photograph of a woman in long skirt, blouse and straw hat fishing on the banks of a wild river.

This is the story of maps, rivers, forests, pioneers and art. The story is set in the wilds of Canada where a family of pioneers owns great tracts of land and forests. They develop an industry around deforestation and supplying logs for the emerging country's cities. Then as the land stabilises they plant barley, which further denudes the landscape until the sand dunes take over the remains of their settlement.

It is the story of a few generations of the family and how they live in this landscape and the family's parallel deterioration as the land is scoured.

Amongst the story of the older generations is the present day family, who tries to understand itself in the light of the past. The story begins with the discovery of a body encased in ice, found by a young man who is photographing the island where the mill was established. Consequently he meets a woman who suffers from Autism (never stated but seems to be the case) who wants to meet the young artist who found her dead lover. As she meets with the young artist she reveals the family's history, the history of the island and the devastation it brought to the family.

I really enjoyed the structure of the book and it's characters. Quite haunting at times, I kept thinking about the story for a long time after I finished reading it.