What I am reading at the moment

I am just finishing “The Gulag Archipelago”, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, have just finished “The Magician” by Colm Toibín, and have just started “Small things like these” by Claire Keegan.

I have read great reviews about Claire Keegan’s book but have just read the first couple of chapters. I would be very hopeful about it, especially given her style of writing which appears to be economical and spare.

I am a huge fan of Thomas Mann and his writing and “The Magician” is Colm Toibín’s novel about Thomas Mann and his life. Even though it is a novel it appears to be tremendously well researched and is accurate with respect to Mann’s life, family, homosexuality, books, Nazi Germany.

But I found the book to be on the boring side, to be honest, and it fell between two stools: not enough action or interesting events to be a great novel and not qualifying as a biography. 

In short, it was neither flesh nor foul but the extra colour and detail about Mann’s life, if accurate and true, was interesting. That’s the problem with a book like this, however. You simply don’t know what is fact and what is fiction.

“The Gulag Archipelago” is a book I am glad to have waded through, but it was hard going, and it did feel like wading through thick mud at times. I am glad I persevered because it is an account of Stalinism and Bolshevism that should be listened to and not forgotten about.

Reading it is a worthy objective and achievement.

But the writing was lumpy, jumpy, repetitious and did not flow and it is not a book I enjoyed reading. In fact, I found myself getting angry at times with some of the writing and the failure to put things in context, or describe things to a non-Russian reader that the writer seems to have taken for granted.