Friday, January 17, 2014

Time Will Tell by Donald Greig

A musicologist Andrew Eiger discovers a manuscript of a new piece of music by Ockeghem.  Before academic kudos are his he has to convince an ensemble to perform the work.  The narrative switches between his point of view and the the conductor of the group.  Interspersed are also chunks of a fictional memoir of a compatriot of Ockeghem.

Unfortunately most of the characters in the book are simply unlikable.  Eiger comes off as Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory unable to figure out even basic social cues.  Blundering into situation after situation.  It's not funny just irritating.  There's plenty of over analysis of simple dialog and pages of description.  When finally there is action in the last two chapters it comes out of left field and has nothing really to do with the agency of either of the two main characters.

Not recommended.

This was received through LibraryThing's early review program.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Good German: Adam Von Trott Zu Solz by Giles MacDonogh

Something different to start off 2014.  This is a biography of a member of the German resistance to Hitler during world war two.  The son of German nobility educated at Oxford Adam Von Trott Zu Solz state in Germany deciding he could do more for the German resistance by becoming a member of the bureaucracy and joining the NAZI party.  Something that many of his friends in England didn't forgive him for.

What could have been a fascinating look at the intellectual side of the plotters is unfortunately hamstrung by MacDonogh's thesis mainly that the Allies have some of the responsibility for the war continuing and therefore the casualties and destruction.  Since they demanded unconditional surrender.  Curiously MacDonogh does it knowledge that the reason for the western Allies at least unwillingness to give terms involved the fear of the "stab in the back" myth after world war one repeating itself.  MacDonogh has no counter argument for this and Trott who apparently didn't either.

The book is far too detailed and too long.  Often giving hour by hour descriptions of whom he met with this isn't just world war two it covers his time at Oxford.  Occasionally with comments from one of the participants.  On one hand and impressive amount of research on the other boring and tedious.  Often having no bearing on the larger narrative.  The Oxford section spent a lot of time pointing out that yes famous people in government and academia went to Oxford in the thirties. That the same people who criticized his actions during the war [staying in Germany and joining the NAZI party] were being vindictive.

When we get to the war it doesn't get much better.  There's very little here about just what any sort of settlement would look like.  So it's hard to judge that if negotiations had taken place after a successful assassination of Hitler whether it would have worked.  The infighting between the groups as well as the inability when the time came for decisive action of the plotters suggest that even if Hitler had been killed it would not have been as smooth the transition as the plotters believed.

I think there is an interesting story in here somewhere.  It's just buried under all the backbiting and daily diary stuff.

Not recommended.

Did This Last Year

So another year has come and gone with far less blogging than I should be doing.  For the record 82 books last year which was better than 2012.