Monday, 27 January 2003

Momo & The far side of the world

Listening to:

Bach, A musical offering

Just read:

Michael Ende, Momo.

This is a cute children’s story; a modern day fairy tale. As such, it is written in a slightly portentous way, and features simple characters. Central is Momo, a young girl of uncertain origin, who has to take on the lead rôle in resisting the invasion of strange grey men in suits who are stealing everyone’s time. Needless to say, this can be read as an allegory about modern life. This allegory exalts simple childish pleasures, rages against artificial, unworthy toys in childish lives, and generally condemns all of capitalism’s trappings in adult lives.

Read this way, the story is tedious and predictable sermonising. If you can ignore this, it’s actually quite an enjoyable story, with some neat fantastic elements.

Patrick O’Brian, Far side of the world.

This is the tenth book in O’Brian's series, and definitely of the same level of quality as its predecessors. I'm impressed that O'Brian managed to keep coming up with stories using the same characters and in roughly the same setting, but where story-lines and circumstances varied in interesting ways. In this installment, Aubrey and Maturin are soon off to the Pacific, chasing an American frigate that is poised to wreak havoc with British whalers operating in this area.

The inevitable conflict between the good guys and the bad guys comes at the very end of the story and is not resolved in a naval engagement at all. Earlier, there's a perhaps slightly incredible, but compelling sub-plot featuring Aubrey and Maturin falling out of the back of their ship and floating for miles in the depths of the Pacific. Earlier still, there are water problems, a difficult re-supply, and on-board adultery to cope with. The novel is full of incident and adventure, peopled with characters that are likeable, and seem genuine. What more could you ask for?

To read next:

Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March.

Australia Day

Today is a public holiday, because it was Australia Day on Sunday. This

celebrates the anniversary of Captain Arthur Phillip unfurling the British flag at Sydney Cove and proclaiming British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia on 26 January 1788. (Source)

Any Aborigines in the vicinity were not consulted.