Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Catch Up
I have not had much of a chance to blog about what I have seen or read recently. All my spare time has been taken up in the garden, weeding and putting down thick layers of mulch. Plus, the whole family caught some horrid viral thing which meant lots of vomit and other stuff. Thankfully we are all over that now.
While in Avoca I read "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian". One of the reviews on the cover of the novel says that is is extremely funny. I did not find this to be so, but rather it was rather tragic and sad. I did however learn a little bit of history about the plight of Ukrainians during WW2, and the role of the tractor in shaping society. I also liked the way the sisters banded together, and at the conclusion had reached a better understanding of each other.
For years, Nadezhda and Vera, two Ukrainian sisters, raised in England by their refugee parents, have had as little as possible to do with each other - and they have their reasons. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their ageing father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life.
Valentina, a bosomy young synthetic blonde from the Ukraine, seems to think their father is much richer than he is, and she is keen that he leave this world with as little money to his name as possible. If Nadazhda and Vera don't stop her, no one will. But separating their addled and annoyingly lecherous dad from his new love will prove to be no easy feat - Valentina is a ruthless pro and the two sisters swiftly realize that they are mere amateurs when it comes to ruthlessness.
As Hurricane Valentina turns the family house upside down, old secrets come falling out, including the most deeply buried one of them all, from the War, the one that explains much about why Nadazhda and Vera are so different. In the meantime, oblivious to it all, their father carries on with the great work of his dotage, a grand history of the tractor. (Penguin Books Synopsis)

I also read the "Life of Pi" last week. A story I have been meaning to read for a couple of years. It was very interesting, and I enjoyed it with greater enthusiasm, the further I became immersed in it. Once again, I had a preconceived idea of the story, from a review in the cover, that used the word 'fable' to describe it. In my mind this gives a story a gentle feel, but the "Life of Pi' was anything but.
Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God. (Reading Group Guides)
I have also been to see "Death at a Funeral". A very silly and funny movie. Good for a laugh. The cast is a string of familiar British actors, and all the possible funeral gags are there.

And Philly and Zac came over for a visit on Friday. I had not seen Zac for a number of weeks. He now loves studying patterns on t-shirts (as he is doing below), and has a beautiful open mouthed smile. I think he possibly looks like Brad here.

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