Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 7, 2008

The Sunday Salon – Likes and dislikes; and an invite…

Starting with the ‘dislikes’

I now know why I don’t really like reading books such as Raymond Khoury’s The Sanctuary, even though I will add here that it is good in its genre, it moves at a pace and keeps the adrenaline going, to the extent that you begin to imagine that these characters are real and you want to know what happens next, preferably unravel the whole thing by peeping at the last chapter, so that you are reassured that all is well, and goodness triumphs evil.  And that’s just it, the reason for both disliking it and thinking it’s quite good, at the same time: it is like reading a fast action-packed ‘movie’ at a snail’s pace, for the simple reason that you have to read all the words around the action, as well as imagine the actions themselves, and this holds you up.  It would be much simpler to watch the story on a two hour dvd, curled up on the sofa and be over and done with it.

The podcast on this book I listened to seemed to bear out my misgivings: on the one hand it is a well written book and if you like that kind of thing then it is for you, on the other hand the story itself is just one of so many, in the Dan Brown category, that requires you to believe that there are still people out there who believe that aeons ago someone (and of course, as part of a church secret)found the elixir of life, the formula, similar to having discovered the secret of making gold out of base metals, and that all that is required is to find this and you will be master of your own life as well as that of others.  And of course, there are baddies and goodies after this formula, and it is that race between the two, who will get their hands on it first, that is at the core of the book.  Perhaps I should not have been reading this now, but kept it for a beach holiday – it could be quite enjoyable, I imagine.  As it is, I was in the wrong frame of mind, probably, and simply skimmed through it to get to the end, feeling all along that I was wasting my time, nevertheless simply wanting to know how it all ended up for Mia and her mother Evelyn, as well as a few others, such as the CIA agent Corbyn and of course the mysterious Tom Webster, or Kirkwood.  All set in the turmoil of the middle east, Baghdad, Lebanon.

And now the likes:

On to the dvd I watched last night and which is a bit of a gem, a serious film that tells a story in  a very lovely and different way:  Persepolis,  based on Marjane Satrapi’s biography of Marji.  It is an animated film which works extremely well in depicting the life of a young girl and her family and friends during the revolution in Iran, 1978 onwards, and how the country moves from liberating itself from a tyrannical shah to the repressive regime of Khomeini, after a very brief interlude of optimism that everything will now be a rose garden.   I was there during that time and this film wonderfully depicts that atmosphere in a few graphic scenes.  The story follows Marji leaving the country and its turmoil for Vienna, where she finds out that freedom is not always all it pretends to be either and then back to Iran when she must decide where her future is going to be.   I have got the book as well but cannot lay my hands on it at the moment, however, I think the dvd works even better than the book – if you haven’t seen it yet, go and get hold of a copy, it is a wonderful but serious movie, as Mark Kermode said, and it tells you more about Iranian culture and its people than lengthy books can do.

And my reading for next week?  I haven’t decided yet, will pick up something from my tbr pile and also want to read some of the books on the Booker list.  I have ordered another stack of books and also received an invitation from Caroline to come and attend a signing of her new book Black Boxes at the Borders store in Oxford Street:  203-207 Oxford Street, London W1D 2LE.   On: Thursday 25 September, 2008 From: 6:30 – 9 pm
And I am extending this invite to all of you, I’m sure Caroline won’t mind! 





  1. I keep kicking myself that I haven’t yet seen Perseopolis. It really sounds as though it was something that I would like.

  2. Yay! Caroline’s new book will be out soon! Thanks so much for bringing that (back) to my attention. 🙂

  3. the Persepolis film sounds interesting! enjoy taht book signing 🙂

  4. frumiousb: go on and watch it, it’s great
    myrthe: it’s a pleasure!
    bookworm: yes, just go and see it – I’m not sure if I’m able to make the signing, 😦 (work and all that?)…

  5. I feel the same way about books that are all action and story and not much substance about character or questions about humanity (that sounds more pompous than I want it to). I find myself thinking that a movie is the better medium. Of course I also don’t much care for action movies much. I have a terrible habit of falling asleep. 🙂

    I tend to enjoy books much more when I feel like there wouldn’t be any other effective way to communicate a story than through the written word.

  6. Thanks so much and yes, friendly faces are very welcome at the launch.
    Such a shame that you can’t be there.

  7. Lisa: you’ve put it so much better than I did: all action and story and not much substance about character or ‘questions’ – absolutely!
    Caroline: I wish I could change the world, timetables and all, here and now! Wish I could be there! Good luck xx

  8. The Iranian film looks very interesting. And thanks for the links to the Booker articles. Fun to read behind the scenes.

  9. Persepolis’ came onto my radar a couple of weeks ago when some friends who are much better read than I am were discussing the way in which graphic novels can sometimes say things that would not be acceptable in any other form. I hadn’t realised that it had been made into a film. I still have to seek it out in graphic form. Is the film on general release do you know, or is it just going to the more selective cinemas?

  10. Dan Brown and his imitators aren’t my cup of tea, so I’ll give The Sanctuary a miss.

    I saw Persepolis a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I liked the animation,the sense of humour and the use of music in the film and like you, will be reading the graphic novel sometime soon.

    Which books on the booker list interest you?

  11. Pete: glad you enjoyed the Booker article and Persepolis is just great, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
    Ann Darnton: absolutely, so much was conveyed by this animation, and by the graphics of the book. I bought the dvd, the film was out a little while ago on general release but it wouldnot have had mass media attraction. It’s a gem.
    Sarah Brown: see previous comments also on Persepolis. As far as the Booker list is concerned, you’ve just given me a topic for one of my next blogs… It’ll be up soon, perhaps after the shortlist is announced?

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