205 Books: The Wall

the wallThe Wall by Marlen Haushofer was written by an Austrian woman in 1963, I think.

An unnamed woman goes to stay at a cabin with her cousin and her cousin’s husband but after they head down to the pub for the night a mysterious wall suddenly appears and all the animals outside the wall die an apparently peaceful death. And the woman is stuck inside this wall with a cat, a dog, and a cow.

And for the next year she survives there on her own.

Just about everywhere I looked it had great reviews. It’s been made into a movie and was entered in the Academy Awards. But, seriously, it’s as boring as hell.

There is no attempt to explain the wall. It isn’t a dome, because rain can still get in, but the poison or whatever killed all the animals can’t get in. The woman reasons that it doesn’t go far beneath the ground because a stream still manages to get out.

So this woman lives with her animals. She doesn’t follow the wall all the way around to see how big the inside is (though it seems to cover quite a large area). There are other houses and cabins and whatnot inside, but she doesn’t go to investigate, to see if there is anything she can use. In the one she does eventually visit she finds a couple of blankets but leaves them behind because she won’t need them. Excuse me? What? If I’m stuck in her situation I’ll be taking anything that could conceivably be useful, just in case. (And later in the story she talks about her clothes wearing out. Ummm, if she had some blankets she could make herself some new clothes, maybe.)

In the first summer she moves herself and her animals to that other  house because there is better grazing for the cow (and its calf which comes along mid-story) but, instead of using the very tame cow to carry some of her stuff the seven miles (or something), she makes about six trips over the next few days. Maybe the cow wouldn’t have liked carrying stuff (I know I don’t) but she didn’t even try. And if I had to hear about her cleaning out the cow’s damn bier one more time I  was going to scream.

The story covers about a year and at the very end another person does turn up. (Obviously, she could have found this person a long time ago if she’d made a bit of effort, though obviously the stranger made no effort either.) And this man kills the calf. Then it kills the dog. We don’t know why he does these things. We don’t get the chance to find out because the woman shoots him.

And that’s it.

I read one review that described the book as horror. I don’t know how they came up with that idea. I don’t read a lot of horror, admittedly, but The Wall is not like any horror I’ve heard of. Post-apocalyptic? Yes. If the apocalypse comes doped up on sleeping pills. It’s not deep. It’s not interesting. It’s just plain boring. Thank god it’s over.

The book was also a bit disappointing in that I didn’t really learn anything about Austria which was one of the points of doing this challenge. It mentions that it’s set in Austria a couple of times and mentions the main character being stuck in a cellar during WW2 (written in 1963, remember) but could quite easily have been set in the US or anywhere else. So I may have to avoid sci-fi and fantasy in the future. (Though maybe if the book had been any good I wouldn’t have complained.)

Also, I was going to go with all paper books for my 205 Books but didn’t mind doing the audio-book thing instead and will do it again in the future if I get the opportunity (for the sake of speed if nothing else).

Another one down. Next is Azerbaijan. I’ve been looking for something but it is so far proving a bit difficult to get something from the library. As ever, I’ll let you know when I make a decision.


205 Books: Austria

the wall

Next on my list of 205 Countries is Austria and I have chosen a book called The Wall. It’s a post-apocalyptic thing written in 1963 by Marlen Haushofer. I’ve done something that I wasn’t going to be doing, which is get the book as an audio-book. I did this mainly because, as usual, I was having trouble finding something at the library and then saw this one.

If I allow myself to do audio-books this entire exercise will be over much quicker because I average about 2 of them a week.

I will let you know how this one goes in a couple of days.

205 Books: Illywacker


So, back near the start of November, I started reading my Australian book, Illywacker, by Peter Carey. When I started I feared it was going to be a bit of a heavy read but it certainly wasn’t that. Boring? Hmmm… No. Well written? Yes.

But the main problem was, I’ve decided, that for all the good writing and strange things that were happening, it wasn’t actually entertaining (for me). And because I was reading it so slowly I was forgetting stuff that happened previously. So all around, it was basically a bad experience.

But I finally finished it on Friday. And, to show just how much I didn’t enjoy it, in the three days since, I started and finished Ready Player One. Was ready Ready Player One well written? Not particularly (don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, but it was nothing special). But it was fun and interesting and entertaining.

Anyway, my next country is Austria so I’ll let you know when I have a book.

205 Books: Australia

Ok, before you say anything, yes, it has been a while since I posted anything at all around here. But the last one was also a 205 Books post. So there is that.

And before you say anything else, yes, Aruba does come before Australia in an alphabetical list of countries. But… Have you tried finding a book about Aruba or by an Aruban author? It isn’t easy. I mean, they are out there, but no in the library and even the self-published ones on Amazon are about $8. And I’m sorry, but I’m not paying that for a self-published ebook. So, Australia it is.

And I already have the book. I was in an amazing 2nd-hand bookshop a while ago and was faced with an overwhelming number of choices. And obviously, because of that. I made the wrong choice. I should have gotten The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough. It’s by a woman, which was one of the things I was going to try to get. And it’s stupidly well known all around the world (as far as I know– it certainly was for a while) and, just, it would have been a whole heap easier to read than the one I actually got.


So, the point it… I will be reading… The Age of Heroes by me. No. I won’t. I should. You should too. It is an easy read. Small. Cheap. And the money goes to a good cause. You can get your copy here, if you shop at Amazon.com.

In the meantime, I’ll be reading Illywhacker by Peter Carey. It looks pretty big. It probably isn’t going to be a particularly easy read, but I bought it, so I’m going to read it. It will probably take me months. Hopefully, I’ll see you before then.

205 Books: The Sandcastle Girls

sandcastle girls So, I think I missed the post where I told you what book I was going to read. Anyway, I read The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

Now, Bohjalian isn’t actually Armenian, he’s American, but his grandparents (I think) were. And the story isn’t actually set in Armenia, it’s (mainly) set in Syria, but it is about the Armenian genocide during WWI.

Look, shut up.

Anyway, as seems to be the case with most of the books I’m finding, it’s a romance set against the backdrop of war. It’s well written– though the bit set in the past is in present tense and I generally don’t like present tense, if for no other reason than it always seems pretty pointless. Then there are parts of the story written in first person from the point of view of a woman writing a book about the main events of the book, is written in the past tense. The modern day bits don’t add a lot to the story for me and overall and the main story didn’t do a lot for me either.

I knew of the Armenian genocide previously so I suppose this added a bit to my knowledge…

Look, overall it was okay– certainly better than that last piece of crap– but not brilliant. Given that, plus the not-set-in-Armenian and the not-actually-an-Armenian-author thing I might put an asterisk beside Armenia and think about coming back to it at the end of the list.

And next is Aruba, which isn’t looking prominent either.