Friday, 15 May 2009

Review - Jem POSTER - "Rifling Paradise"

Publ: 2006
My Own copy
ISBN: 0 340 82295 3
Genre: general fiction
Pages: 325p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** ****

What led you to pick up this book?
The brilliant cover with its lithograph of parrots by Edward Lear.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
A minor landowner in Victorian England flees some minor indiscretions and follows a long-standing wish to make his mark as a naturalist. Once abroad he encounters a number of people who affect his quest for new scientific specimens.

What did you think of the characters?
Wonderfully delineated. The Mail on Sunday described it as a 'terrifying journey into the dark recesses of the human soul'. I wouldn't go that far by any means but it is a fascinating look at the emotional and psychological workings of the 'hero's' mind.

What did you think about the style?

Poster has a great ability to paint pictures with words. His imagery encompasses not just the natural surroundings in which the action takes place but also the action itself and the thoughts of the main character.

What did you like most about the book?
Everything from the cover to the plot, characters to the setting; all were good.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
One of the best. I would have this on my wall as a piece of artwork.

Would I recommend it?

My tears were for myself too, for the chastened dreamer hunkered down among the splinters of his own unsustainable illusions...

I don't think... that meekness means letting other people have their way at your expense, or being silent when you've a right or duty to speak. I think it means being humble in the face of a universe we can hardly begin to understand.

Mr Bullen seems to imagine... that our culture will have fulfilled its destiny once it has taken everything else - the wilderness, other cultures, life itself - by the scruff of the neck and shaken it into submission.

I remember wondering, not entirely playfully, whether Adam's fall might have begun not with the eating of a fruit but earlier, with the arising of the desire to catalogue the plants an animals in his teeming paradise.

JEM POSTER (born 1949) holds the Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He has worked variously as an archaeologist for English Heritage, an administrator for Cambridge University's Institute of Continuing Education, and as Lecturer in English Literature with Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. He is a former fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. Rifling Paradise, his second novel won an Arts Council Writer's Award fo work in progress.

I came across this alternative cover picture on the web. I like it but not as much as the one I have.

1 comment:

  1. I think I may buy the cover too!! though to to judge a book, its certainly a draw isnt it! Delineated lovely word, have you posted on it on your other wordy blog?


Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.