A round up of the books that I read last month, all fairly short books:-
(1) Kid by Simon Armitage
Contemporary / Poetry: "This collection of poems includes the themes of domestic tension, law and order, submerged and exploding violence, and the anarchic strain in the human psyche."
Simon Armitage seems to be a love him or hate him kind of poet and I feel that his collections of poetry are very mixed. Kid had some interesting themes and concepts that were open to interpretation but his poems don't flow well for me. There were one or two that particularly stood out (both 'Song' and 'Poem' especially), but ultimately I struggled to get into his work. Maybe one I'll have a go at re-reading at a later date. [2/5]
(2) The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
Contemporary / Short Stories: "Set in Los Angeles, the birthplace and graveyard of American myths and dreams, the city harbours a group of people trapped between the beauty of their surroundings and their own moral impoverishment."
This is the fifth book that I've read by Bret Easton Ellis and I count him amongst my list of favourite authors, even though I don't love everything he's written. The Informers is a series of short stories featuring different narrators and overlapping storylines which all focus on a circle of spoilt and ultimately ruined, young adults living in LA. The characters are all people who are easy to despise as they're painfully shallow and consumed by their own needs and desires with little or no regard for anyone else. Their stories are as humourless and as hollow as their personalities, yet I found myself easily getting sucked into their downward spiralling world. Like someone rubbernecking at a horrific car crash on the motorway, I couldn't stop reading, no matter how depraved the stories became.
If you're already familiar with Ellis' work, this may seem like one of his weaker books, but if you can appreciate the art of short-story telling and are used to reading that format, you may just enjoy it. This isn't one I'd recommend as an introduction to Ellis though; try American Psycho or Less Than Zero first. [3/5]
(3) The Sorrows Of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Classics / Literature: "For more than two centuries this book has evoked the sensitivity of youth, the suffering of the artist and the idea of a hero too full of love to live."
For such a slim book, this is an emotionally heavy read and one of the earliest literary classics to examine the trauma and pain of unrequited love. Written as a series of letters to a friend, our doomed Young Werther pours his heart out as he explains how he has fallen in love with a young girl called Lotte, but sadly she is already betrothed to another man. Although this is depressing, there are at times a naive sense of hope in some parts, though ultimately the traumatic ending is inevitable. An interesting book to study and analyse (I read this with my Literary Book Club), and one that I'm sure many can relate to at some point in their lives. [3/5]
(4) Free? Stories About Human Rights by Various Authors
Young Adult / Short Stories: "An inspiring and engaging anthology which gathers an international roster of authors to explore such themes as asylum, law, education, and faith."
Each story in Free? has been written to illustrate a different human right that relates to one of the thirty articles in the United Nations declaration of Human Rights. The stories are all quite simplistic, but nevertheless hit the nail on the head and make you think about what really value in life. With the new Conservative government threatening to pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights, this book couldn't be more topically important. And best of all, it's aimed at teenagers and young adults, so it's widely accessible. An excellent choice for parents to pick up for their children as a way of introducing them to the subject of Human Rights and their importance. [4/5]