Sunday, 9 February 2014

fear and trembling with loving sabotage

Fellow blogger Kitty Hannah suggested Amélie Nothomb would be a good read and so I planned to download a novel onto Kindle. It wasn't to be, because only the French editions were available.

I persisted and ordered the paperbacks in English, which arrived in time for me to take them to my temporary bunker on the east side of London.

The two I picked are both autobiographical of what I learn to be a thoughtful and quirky individual.
I read the one where she was twenty-something before I read the one where she was around 5-6 ish. They were both fascinating stories.

In 'Fear and Trembling' she's working in an office in the hierarchies of Japan. She's become an office flower/OL/office lady/shokuba no hana and has a female boss, who should, by rights, have left the office to get married to a salaryman. It's the story of demeaning tasks, a stilted office protocol and a real type of fear built into the system.

It unpacks slowly and with several very graphical scenes, as well as some interesting mind diversions, almost all within the closed walls of the office. I found it a fascinating evocation of the very strange working world seen through western eyes.

And for another author, here's three of the different cover-arts.

Then backwards to China, where she was at a younger age, in the ghetto of the diplomatic classes, again locked away behind walls this time in '70s Beijing.

Aside: Notice that my copy at the top of the post has a different typeface from the one below. Marketing to bring the set to a consistent look?
The kids of the diplomats wage a permanent war against one another, with roughly hewn distinctions which somehow even the numbers. It's written through the child's voice, but with the wisdom and philosophies of a later age. She rides a bicycle (horse) everywhere and is smitten by one of the newcomers to the environment.

There was a moment during the week when a 'blockbuster TV show' was about to start - something I'd usually enjoy - but instead I found myself thinking I'd prefer to see how Amélie was getting on with Elena in 'Loving Sabotage.'

I found them both highly enjoyable reads, and an insight into the author's thinking. Thanks, Kitty, for what proved to be an excellent suggestion.


RFM said...

Thanks for posting all the different covers. Your copy of F+T was clearly designed without colour blindness in mind. Red against green? Invisible to some!

rashbre said...

RFM Stealth titling? At least there's a yellow edge to the typeface.