Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Michael Ondaatje

So, every once in a while I have a day where I can't for the life of me decide what to read next--I want to read it all, and I don't want to read any of it, and I can't remember what all the books I've been meaning to read for ages are. I always wind up turning to my parents, who have read a great many good books in their time, and they will pull all sorts of books off the shelves, and stack them up in front of me, and then eventually I'll probably walk up to a shelf and pull something off and start reading it, or pick up the very first book they recommended which I originally scoffed at. It is all very trying.

Anyway, that is how I came to pick up The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. I suppose it's one I always figured I'd read eventually. I have read some of his poetry in The Cinnamon Peeler, which I should finish, and I love in that the "Elimination Game," which has such gems as,

"Those who have woken to find the wet footprints of a peacock across their kitchen floor.

Those who have accidentally stapled themselves.

Anyone who has been hired as a 'professional beater' and frightened grouse in the direction of the Queen Mother.

Any person who has lost a urine sample in the mail.

Anyone with pain."

And my favourite...

"Men who shave off beards in stages, pausing to take photographs."

It's not exactly poetry--I'm not sure what it is. A bit of a dedication, I suppose.

Anyway, I have so far read the first chapter of The English Patient, and hearing that the movie was terrible I see why it was, because I can't imagine how you could make a film out of this. It reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale in an odd manner, and it almost serves that desire I had for World War II novels, and it satisfies my fondness for books involving crumbling houses. There are books I've read (not that I can think of an example) where my favourite character is the house they all live in. Anyway, it's lovely, and I am definitely continuing.

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