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More very short book reviews

Call for the Dead, John le Carre

The first Smiley novel. In fact, JlC's first novel. Very good, if not as complicated as later Smileys. (I haven't read any of the others, but we have the Alec Guinness 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' and 'Smiley's People' on DVD. I will read the Smileys in order.

Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut

Very clever, very thought-provoking. More lit than SF. Recommended, but not for the faint-hearted. A serious book.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

(See, I even read proper lit stuff occasionally!) Read this because I saw a trailer for the film, and thought a) that it was a film I wanted to see and b) I much prefer to read the book first then see the film not vice versa. Well written. I'll try to make this spoiler free - I was originally annoyed by the ending, but having thought about it some more (partially in response to seeing the film), I've come round to it. The book is ultimately about religion, but not necessarily in the obvious way. Or is it? It's one of those books that different people can interpret in completely different but equally valid ways. I remember a discussion with someone on andrewducker's LJ about it in which we came to completely different interpretations of the meaning, but both could see where the other was coming from. Incidentally, the film is an excellent adaptation of the book, and also one of the few films worth going to see in 3D.

Last Tango in Aberystwyth, Malcolm Pryce

The second Louie Knight novel (after 'Aberystwyth, Mon Amour'), Chandleresque private detective set in a strange alternative universe Aberystwyth where the town is dominated by the Druids (a mafia like secret society) and Wales fought an unsuccessful Vietnam-style war in Patagonia in the 70s. It's a bit of a one joke setting (well, maybe two jokes), but they're good jokes. Never quite manages to be brilliant, but achieves 'very good'. Will appeal more if you've ever lived in North Wales, because some of the characters and speech patterns are just spot on.

Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco

Sorry, hated it. I know it's supposed to be a classic, and as someone who loves conspiracy theories and hoaxes, I should have loved a book about hoax conspiracy theories. I didn't. I thought it was over-indulgent, rambling, way too long and badly in need of editing (ironic for an author who used to be an editor). If this is "the thinking man's da Vinci Vode", I'd rather be thick. If I can be really nasty about it, it's nowhere near as good as Dan Brown's novel, and is actually on a par with the abysmal Illuminatus! trilogy.