Review: “The Reader on the 6.27” by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

The Reader on the 6.27

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

9781447276494The Reader on the 6-27

This book is the antidote. To cynicism, to the everyday drudgery of existence. I cannot recommend this book enough to you, my reader.

“The Reader on the 6.27” will reignite your hope and redeem every bad book, every disappointing ending; every over-pretentious pit-stain of a novel you have ever had the misfortune to encounter. This book will remind you of your faith in literature.

Guylain Vignolles hates his job; Guylain works in a book-pulping factory. His only joy is his morning ritual, where he boards the 6.27 train and reads from the fragments of books he has saved from the teeth of the monster. He reads aloud to his fellow passengers, who “show him the indulgent respect reserved for harmless nutters”. Nevertheless, he is the ray of sunshine that briefly illuminates the dullness of their 9-to-5’s.

“He was the reader, the bearer of the good word.”

Guylain appears to be suffering from the Nausea, as Sartre would define it: that indefinable feeling deep in your gut that life is pointless. Then one day, he happens upon a USB memory stick that changes his life forever. What is on the USB? The diary entries of a 28-year-old toilet attendant, named Julie.

How, you might ask, can this bored young woman, who sits outside toilet cubicles all day, help Guylain? How can accounts of what other humans are literally experiencing in their guts save him? Isn’t she just another sufferer of everyday drudgery, like him? Well, Julie is no ordinary toilet attendant.

Humanity abounds – glorious, at times stupid and disgusting, but glorious humanity. There is nothing high-flown about this honest, forthright account of how words can, sometimes, save people. Of how people can save each other.

This book is the antidote to modern life. Continue reading

Book Review: “The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant

by Kazuo Ishiguro

buried giant 2.jpg

My first reading of an Ishiguro novel has shown me how his masterful storytelling has succeeded in capturing readers around the world.

A mysterious mist covers the land of medieval Britain and robs the inhabitants of their memories. Borrowing from Arthurian legend, Ishiguro takes us on a journey of discovery that meets with adventure and the heart-breaking account of what it means to love and to remember.

By elegantly weaving memories with present action, the passing of time becomes an impeccable example of writing style working in step with the narrative themes. In the quest to find the source of the mist, the memories of our characters come and go and we, as readers, glide imperceptibly between past and present. Quiet revelations permeate the story as they remember things forgotten, and uncover the truth of their present. These revelations are precious moments of truth and clarity spared of ostentation or announcement. You could almost miss them if it weren’t for the rapt attention that Ishiguro conjures with his gently powerful style.

There is not a single moment in this novel that doesn’t feel considered and concise. Every line, every sentence, every moment is integral. All the components are perfectly in tune with one another, like the internal workings of a clock. Busily, steadily, the cogs wind onward and we are comforted by the sense of considered purpose that sustains the entire novel.

As I neared the end, I felt a genuine desire for a quick resolution, a knot somewhere in my chest as I hastened to toward the last page. But, as throughout the rest of the novel, Ishiguro neither slows cruelly – as some authors do, stretching out our anxiety – nor hastily rushes his conclusion. He simply continues, steadily, unswervingly, with the measured pace of a practised storyteller. He trusts in the story to make its own impact and not once does he employ any cheap keep-away tactics.

“The Buried Giant” is a story that stays with you. Moving and gripping, but never pushing, pulling or grabbing, it is a style that invites you in but knows precisely when to let you go. Even when you implore him to continue.

“He felt as one standing in a boat on a wintry river, looking out into dense fog, knowing it would at any moment part to reveal vivid glimpses of the land ahead. And he had been caught in a kind of terror, yet at the same time had felt a curiosity – or something stronger and darker – and he told himself firmly, ‘Whatever it may be, let me see it, let me see it.’”