Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is Tony Malone from Tony’s Reading List.
Tony was born and raised in England, but escaped Old Blighty shortly after completing his university studies in French and German. He spent a couple of years in Germany and a few in Japan, before moving to Melbourne, Australia with his wife. He now devours, and reviews, classic literature on his blog – in the spare moments not spent reading Charlie and Lola books to his young daughters.
Without further ado, here’s Tony’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
I love the classics, and I could have chosen any one of a plethora of Victorian novels, but Hardy’s story of unfortunate love triangles set against the backdrop of the Wessex countryside is one that I come back to again and again. The writer sketches out the doomed relationship of Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye (one of my favourite tragic heroines) with great skill, contrasting the higher-status characters with the local farmers and labourers and describing both groups to perfection. The inspired character of Diggory Venn, the reddleman, a wandering worker with a heart of gold, adds a touch of fairy tale to the story. And as for Egdon Heath itself, forget the moors of Wuthering Heights. The Return of the Native’s magnificent natural setting, the vast, untamed open land of the south of England, puts man’s petty squabbles into perspective.
Although I lived in Japan for a few years, it wasn’t until I was living in Australia that I first read any J-Lit. My wife borrowed After the Quake from the library, and on the strength of that I bought Norwegian Wood from Borders (simpler times) – the rest, as you can tell from my blog, is history. I was blown away by the power of the narrative and the simple, elegant language, while the sense of nostalgia and longing for a life long since buried somewhere in the dusty corners of our memory was almost tangible. A part of its magic, of course, is the link between the title and the Beatles song, and I find it hard to think of the book without the familiar tune instantly popping into my head! This book persuaded me to sample works by more Japanese writers, and I’ve (almost) never regretted following this path.
It’s a sad fact that books first published in languages other than English simply don’t enjoy the exposure they should (with a few obvious exceptions). I could have chosen dozens of examples – and was tempted to choose one of Erich Maria Remarque’s post-All Quiet on the Western Front works, but Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Böll’s The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, a biting novel about the effect so-called freedom of the press can have on an innocent person (and the shocking consequences that can arise), was one I instantly thought of. Told in a sardonic, detached manner, and with a sarcastic foreword I’ve yet to see bettered in any book, the novel starts with the shocking facts before returning to the start of events to sketch out, impassionately, coolly, how things turned out that way. Yes, Böll, as a Nobel laureate, is fairly well known, but I’ve rarely heard his name mentioned in blog or Twitter discussions, and that’s something that needs to be rectified – this is a good place to start.
Thanks, Tony, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’m a Hardy fan and bought an Everyman Library edition of Return of the Native on the strength of a recommendation by Tony, on Twitter, earlier this year. I have yet to read it though. I have Norwegian Wood in the TBR, along with a couple of other Murikami’s, so I really need to give him a shot. And I have promptly added The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, to my wishlist, because novels about journalism and the press are a pet interest of mine.
What do you think of Tony’s choices? Have you read any of these books?