I posted my traditional bloggy birthday giveaway five days ago, and even though there are only two valid entries (come on, was the prompt that hard?), I’ve got a handful of books that I already want to read. I hope getting my hands on these books will give me my much needed reading boost. I haven’t been reading lately because I’m currently rereading a book that I just read a couple of months ago. It’s book club duty, so until this book discussion blows over, I guess I’ll just wallow in this slump.
I digress, as always. So here are the winners. Yes, I decided just a few minutes ago to declare two winners because I can’t make up my mind. And it’s a first! I don’t think I’ve had a tie before. So yeah, I’m torn between roughghost‘s recommendation of The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs by Damon Galgut and TinTin‘s recommendation of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders. Let me put here how they recommended these two books:
The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs
Finally, my number one suggestion, one I highly recommend for you no matter what, is THE BEAUTIFUL SCREAMING OF PIGS by Damon Galgut. He is my favourite contemporary English language writer. A gay author from South Africa, Galgut rarely explores explicit gay themes, preferring to examine the unresolved or unrequited tensions between men. This novel originally came out in 1991 but he reworked it in the mid 2000’s and it is the closest to a coming out story he has written. Set in 1989, late Apartheid era, the main character is Patrick, a young man who never fit in with other boys. He lacked the rugged athletic charm of his brother and is very attached to his mother. This is still the time of conscription so after graduating he volunteers for his two year’s military service. Out in the jungle his alienation from other boys is more evident to him – until another young man arrives. Finally he has met someone he feels he can connect to. Without ever really labeling anything, the young men have an awkward encounter one night on patrol. Shortly after his friend is killed and Patrick has a breakdown. Eventually he is discharged.
When the story opens he is heading up to Namibia for the first free elections. His parents are divorced and his mother has been “finding herself”. Her latest obsession is to have a young black boyfriend. Throughout the course of this short trip Patrick begins to come to terms with the fact that he might have been in love, and notices his attraction to his mother’s boyfriend. But it is much more than that. He is becoming politically aware in a time of great upheaval. Suddenly he is assisting with elections in a country he was, one year earlier, engaged in warfare to defend for South Africa. Glagut is an elegant, spare writer. Not one word too many. But he creates images (like the sand dunes of the Namibian desert) that are simply unforgettable. I have read this book more than once and if you take none of my other suggestions do give this one a look. I think you will really like it.
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders – Because I know you loved Tenth of December and I chose this book for the very purpose that it will practically sell itself to you. Haha. Anyway, this collection still has everything I loved about Saunders’ writing in Tenth of December. It is unguarded and offhanded and very conversational. The protagonists in all the seven stories fit the downtrodden and the disadvantaged kind. Vulnerable characters that feel so real, I feel like my heart is being being skewered reading about their day to day lives of bleakness. He is a master at combining realism with surrealism. And the humor, let’s not forget to mention the wicked humor, and the biting satire, and the luminescent redemption (or epiphany) that cuts through the grim events like daggers of light piercing a dark room.
Thank you and congratulations, roughghosts and TinTin! Please email me the following details at angusmiranda at yahoo dot com:
- Full name
- Complete address
- The Book Depository link of the book that you want (not more than USD 20.00). Click this for an example.
Please note that if your post office charges taxes and fees for book deliveries, I won’t be responsible for them, okay? Let’s hope they do not. I hope to hear from you soon!