Friday, May 22, 2009

a bit of good news

Chepstow can be a bit of a boring place at times (though very, very pretty).

It came to life this week when thousands gathered to welcome home the 1st Battalion The Rifles Parade from their posting in Afghanistan. Standing with the throng, I actually felt proud (yes, e'en so) to be part of the town.

The constant barrage of pointless news about MPs expenses had been making me feel particularly lacklustre about British cares and priorities - and the turnout for a bunch of guys who had been doing a particularly tough job (which killed several of their number) gave me a bit of optimism again.

My brother-in-law was out in Helmand recently, which made the event all the more moving.

And watching the TV crews and reporters scurrying about the scene made me miss (for the first time?!) local journalism.

All good for the soul.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A thousand suicidal suns?

Not sure I should have opted to read the truly depressing second novel by Khaled Hosseini (his first being the Kite Runner).

What an onslaught. Gut-wrenching disaster after gut-wrenching disaster. Admittedly, I haven't finished it yet - will there be a ray of light and laughter at the end? Somehow I doubt it....though I'm ploughing on in hope.

I don't mind a dark novel. I don't mind a sad novel. In a perverse way, I even enjoy reading about mistreated women because it gives me more material for my occasional feminist soapbox. And I realise life Afghanistan's recent history is hardly a bed of roses.

But reading this is comparable to sitting through a bad sermon. You feel that once the guy's got you sitting there, he takes the chance to throw his worst at you because he knows you'll be too embarrassed to get up and leave.

My view doesn't seem to be the popular one. Most reviews of the book are glowing. Is this because people feel they ought to enjoy it? Or am I missing something?