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Endless Reads Review on PANK: The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin

 

The Light and the Dark is an epistolary novel – as soon as I opened the book and caught on to that, I thought of the 18th, 19th century. I thought, uncharitably, I was in for turgid romance. Or Dracula. But reading was another matter – there was the whiplash to deal with, of being thrown into the claustrophobic heart of the story, and there was the sparking, glorious prose.

 

The story is a love story of two sweethearts separated and writing back and forth to one another, recounting their happy moments and their present discomforts and biting loneliness. The lovers are Volodenka, a soldier in an unnamed, but clearly not modern conflict, and Sashenka, the young woman who waits at home. Here she recounts their time at their dachas in the countryside, where they met:

 

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December reads

Still going strong

 

I know that lots of literary sites and blogs are putting up their Best Of 2012 lists about now but I am in resistance! The year is not over til those bells chime on Hogmanay. With that resolution in heart, Endless Reads 2012 continues into December. So far I have read Somewhere (which I will review shortly) and I’m closing in on 1Q84. After that, the titles above, so thoughtfully complimentary coloured:

 

The Missing Shade of Blue by Jennie Erdal, a philosophical mystery published by Abacus – the title comes from a philosophical problem posed by David Hume regarding the conception of a colour you have never seen (it’s a bit complicated to explain so here’s the wiki). It’s set in Edinburgh, which makes it I think the only first-read of the year set in my own city (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a welcome re-read).

 

The Light and The Dark by Mikhail Shishkin (Quercus) is a book that has not yet been released and that I have acquired through the generosity of Blackwell’s on South Bridge’s Christmas Book Quiz. D and I inadvertently showed up when the quiz was starting, and decided to join in, though D was there  do some preparatory work for an interview and is not overly interested in contemporary fiction. Our team, Book Shaped Heart, came 8th out of 11, which was not too shabby considering the difficulty level. Because it was Christmas, everyone who participated had the chance to choose a book from a few boxes set up in the back and this was my choice – from the blurb on the back it seems to be a kind of Russian literary version of the film The Lakehouse. Which I haven’t seen because Romantic films aren’t really my thing. But! The book might be anything, really.

 

The Last title is Another Country by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate). This was sent to me by a friend, and the author is a friend of his. It’s about a woman in her twenties living in Paris, London and Bombay. I have high hopes – it was savaged in The Telegraph for being (shock horror) more about character than plot, and seems to focus on un-belonging and rootlessness which I think I will enjoy.

 

Whether I will get through all of these titles before the bells remains to be seen, but I’m going to have a good time trying. They’re all newly published (or in the case of the second, unpublished) so I’m still keeping to my promise of reading new, vibrant things. What will Endless Reads 2013 bring? I haven’t decided yet. Should I have a theme? Would that be too artificial? What would you like to see?

 

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