Rabbit Redux by John Updike

It must look like I’m a sluggish reader since I have had RABBIT REDUX listed as my current read for a couple of months. It looks worse than it is, first I don’t list technical books I’m reading,  or books that I don’t like. The second reason is I have read Rabbit Redux three times since listing it. I’ve read a lot of John Updike’s books over the years, but to say he is my favourite author is not correct. Many of his books I don’t care for. Rabbit Redux is one I care for a great deal. It is full of humour, irony, contemporary history, and all the weaknesses and foolishness of people. The writing gives a fresh intimate way of seeing the characters. There are five books in the “Rabbit” series. Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit is Rich; Rabbit at Rest; and Rabbit Remembered. The last book is not in the same class as the others. Best to forget about it, rather than drag down such an amazing group. Each of the Rabbit books was set 10 years apart, Rabbit, Run was 1960, Rabbit Redux was 1970, and during that time as we move forward we see all… Continue reading

The Eve of Destruction

THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION is a novel about America edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It would be a war that might kill hundreds of millions of people and poison the atmosphere for fifty years. In October 1962, American spy planes photographed missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in Cuba. The Soviet Union was installing the missiles, and they could reach targets in the USA within minutes. President Kennedy was trying to find a way out of the Cuban Missile Crisis without recourse to war. The US armed forces were confident about attacking the Soviet Union in one all-out nuclear war, certain they would win. President John Kennedy was doubtful about their advice and motives, cautious after they told him similar gung-ho things about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Eve of Destruction is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  EXTRACT  Luke could hear the roar of the huge printing presses in the background. He was sitting opposite Walt who smiled delightedly, unable to understand what this was about. Luke listened to the sound and smell of the printing, he imagined the newspapers whizzing down to the collection point to be bundled; he could smell the… Continue reading

I SHALL NOT HATE

  Dr. IZZELDIN  ABUELAISH A Gaza doctor’s journey on the road to peace and human dignity.   This is an autobiographical account of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish. He was  born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1955. His family valued education and, as he was a good  student, he won a scholarship to study medicine in Egypt. He eventually became a doctor specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology.   He spent much of his life studying or teaching in many countries. It was always difficult for him to get paid work in Gaza, so he usually worked in other countries, often Israel, where he was the first Palestinian doctor on staff in an Israeli hospital.    He was married with eight children, but in December 2008 his wife died suddenly from leukemia. His children were now without a mother, while he had to work to supply his family with food, clothes, and education.    It was only about a month later, that Israel began Operation Cast Lead. For years Palestinian militants in Gaza had been making rockets and firing thousands of them into Israel. They rarely hurt anyone or caused damage since they were unguided, home made, with low-grade explosives.… Continue reading

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is a fascinating novel set in the Belgian Congo around 1960. The family relating the story are the wife and children of an American Baptist missionary — a stern, authoritarian old-world missionary. His beliefs are prejudiced against anything that is not part of his own culture. He has an unshakeable belief in the superiority of his culture, ethnic race, religion, beliefs, and nation. Although this is understandable, it leads him to believe the culture, beliefs, religion, and ethics of those around him are worthless rubbish to be eradicated and replace with Christianity — as if this was the one true religion, as if there were no schisms, no dissent, no dogma, no arguments about Christianity. These primitive people, he believes, should welcome him and his enlightenment with open arms. And yet, bit by bit his wife and children abandon his teachings, rebel against his punishments, his dogmatic beliefs, his authority invested in him by God. He is big on judgments, punishments, and assigning blame. Jesus is his world, evangelism is his mission. As for his family, they rate little apart from what they can do to promote his religious conversions. “His” because it is… Continue reading

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Review Literary Awards Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2015), Audie Award for Fiction (2015), ALA Alex Award (2015), Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (Runner-Up) (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2015) …more The story revolves around a blind French girl and a German boy who eventually meet towards the end of WW2 in occupied France. The father and his blind daughter flee Paris for the safety of a city by the sea, until he is taken away by the Nazis, never to see his daughter again. She lives on in the old building with her grandfather, until the town comes under attack. The German boy, drafted into the Nazi army, hears the girl broadcasting a reading of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, followed by Clair de Lune. He is changed by this and led to the girl. I enjoyed reading this book. Set during the Second World War in France/ Germany it is easy to read, using simple but emotive words to build the story. It is rather different from the usual WW2 books, giving us another view of the Nazis and the French civilians. Because the protagonist is blind, we get to “see” things through her… Continue reading