We are Sailing

21 08 2016

The Shadow-Line: A Confession by Joseph Conrad

41OTIJRpQSL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_

 

‘A sudden passion of anxious impatience rushed through my veins and gave me such a sense of the intensity of existence as I have never felt before or since.’ Written in 1915, The Shadow-Line is based upon events and experiences from twenty-seven years earlier to which Conrad returned obsessively in his fiction. A young sea captain’s first command brings with it a succession of crises: his sea is becalmed, the crew laid low by fever, and his deranged first mate is convinced that the ship is haunted by the malignant spirit of a previous captain. This is indeed a work full of ‘sudden passions’, in which Conrad is able to show how the full intensity of existence can be experienced by the man who, in the words of the older Captain Giles, is prepared to ‘stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience’. A subtle and penetrating analysis of the nature of manhood, The Shadow-Line investigates varieties of masculinity and desire in a subtext that counterpoints the tale’s seemingly conventional surface.

Classic Conrad this and the storytelling doesn’t disappoint. Superbly written as ever and with a really powerful depiction of life at sea this really is very good indeed.

 

four stars

Advertisements




Carving it up

14 08 2016

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe

9780241967010

A novel about the hundreds of tiny connections between the public and private worlds and how they affect us all. It’s about the legacy of war and the end of innocence. It’s about how comedy and politics are battling it out and comedy might have won. It’s about how 140 characters can make fools of us all. It’s about living in a city where bankers need cinemas in their basements and others need food banks down the street. It is Jonathan Coe doing what he does best — showing us how we live now. “Coe is among the handful of novelists who can tell us something about the temper of our times”. (Observer).

Not his best but this sort of sequel to the brilliant ‘What a Carve Up’ is still pretty good. The interconnectedness of it all is perhaps stretched too far but it is good fun with lots of satirical critique of the way we are plus some added and surprising spookiness.

stars-3-5





Istanbul (not Constantinople)

7 08 2016

Stamboul Train by Graham Greene

41Wr11pM1TL

Carleton Myatt meets Coral Musker, a na├»ve English chorus girl, aboard the Orient Express as it heads across Europe to Constantinople. As their relationship develops, they find themselves caught up in the fates of the other passengers and drawn into a web of espionage, murder and lies…

An entertaining entertainment from Greene which I had somehow overlooked before. Espionage, murder and lies indeed. Good stuff.

stars-3-5.








%d bloggers like this: