Monkeyshines

Book Battle 2: The Girl Who Played with Fire vs One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

I rather enjoyed my first book battle, so thought I’d stage another bout, with my latest reads, which don’t have much in common other than unfeasibly long titles. If you’ve been living in a popular-trend-proof room for the last few years, The Girl Who… is a thriller by Stieg Larsson, the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; I liked it better than its predecessor. One Day… is a wonderful, devastating book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one of the few books that I re-read periodically. To mix things up a bit, this fight will determine which book sounds better, using the ‘Sound’ adjective list from my random word generator.

Round 1: Squealing
One Day… draws a battered sabre from its rope-belt and stands defensively, too proud to squeal; although its valenki do squeak in the snow beneath it. The Girl Who… brandishes two lengths of iron pipe and manages a couple of tentative jabs, easily parried, but it is a book that bellows, rather than squeals. Verdict: Draw.

Round 2: Harsh
One Day… whips the sabre through the air, and with ferocious speed and skill forces The Girl Who… to its knees (or whatever it is that books have in place of knees) – the arena resounds with the harsh clang of metal on metal, and One Day… exhales hard, with a chill, Siberian breath that makes its opponent shudder. Verdict: One Day….

Round 3: Thundering
The bell saved The Girl Who… last round, and it regains some confidence with its iron pipes, landing some decent blows. One Day…‘s quiet anger is no match for the thundering voice of The Girl Who…, whose rage builds through the round, as it does in the story. Verdict: The Girl Who….

Round 4: Cooing
Umm… both books stay in their corner for this round, swiping their weapons through the air, sizing each other up. Verdict: Draw.

Round 5: Hushed
One Day… swings its sabre once, clanging against The Girl Who…‘s iron pipe like a hammer against a suspended length of rail. The metallic peal dies out and One Day… drops its sabre, which lands noiselessly in the snow. The Girl Who… takes a step back, and drops its pipes, which crash loudly against one another. Verdict: One Day….

The winner: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. A powerful book with spare, heart-rending detail; and it sounds good too!


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