Wednesday, May 05, 2010

House of Meetings - Martin Amis

I finished reading another book. It was House of Meetings by Martin Amis.

It was a good book. But it was a bit hard to get through. The author has a great command of the English language and just about every page had at least one word I had to look up using Google mobile on my BlackBerry. That's a great reading companion.

The book is a bit hard to follow. It is set in Russia and mostly spans the period 1944-1953. However there is stuff both before and after that which is significant. The major part of the book is set in a Siberian gulag where the author and his half brother end up.

I thought the gulag writing was well done. I've read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago in the past and Amis' compelling gulag account seemed very well researched and presented.

There is seemingly a lot of symbolism in the book I didn't really grasp. The story is told in the first person account of the Hero but his name is never mentioned in the book. I found it hard to figure out the Hero's philosophy through the tale. I don't think he was a communist or a fascist. The author spells it out late so that was helpful. There were some characters Uglik and Ananias who made brief but significant appearances but they seemed to be symbolic, representative of something - but I'm not exactly sure what.

Still it was a compelling read and a good story. I would read some more Martin Amis. Although I will read something a bit lighter next. I think even most non fiction is lighter than House of Meetings.

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