This summer I’ve been reading John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love and Katherine May’s Burning Out.
I tried to put all the book covers up here but it took me 20 minutes and I kept deleting them and I got too annoyed. You’ll have to make do with that one.
I’m a VERY fussy novel reader, and I thought all four of these books were excellent – all very different, and all very distintive in their own way. Have you read them? What did you think?
Speaking of novels, The Blue Handbag and The Letters are £4.79 on Amazon UK at the moment, which seems ridiculously cheap. I wonder how the poor author makes a living? ; )
Thank you for your kind messages. This week has been a non-difficult week, and I’m looking forward to getting back to work and cracking on with my current novel, Joe in Amsterdam. I think I might be on my final draft.
Right – I’m off to a birthday lunch.
I’ve always liked a particular novelist (who shall remain nameless, as I recently learnt the lesson that even if you think someone’s really famous they still might read your blog).
I met Joanna on a writing holiday recently and she happened to mention how much she hated this particular novelist. I loved them and so did everyone else, but she thought they were awful. It became a kind of joke between us.
I like Joanna, and I like her writing. This makes me interested in her opinion of other writers. But I disagreed, and it’s fine to disagree.
This week I read another book by this person. Half-way through I was saying, oh, Joanna is wrong – this is a great writer! I definitely like their books!
Two thirds of the way through, certain things were starting to annoy me. I noticed a kind of reptition that I’d never noticed before, and something that felt a bit fake. The ending was TERRIBLE. I don’t think I’ll ever read another novel by them again.
Hate is a funny thing. Would I have felt the same way if I didn’t know what Joanna thought? It seemed like I was bugged by the very same things I’d previously liked about this writer’s books – the idea of weaknesses being ‘overplayed strengths’.
It reminded me again that you can never keep all the people happy all of the time, and that you shouldn’t even start trying. But it also reminded me how suggestible we are – and how easily (and with what pleasure) we can gang up on each other.
I’m still very much enjoying The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and thought this passage was particularly pertinent to yesterday’s post…
Over to our narrator, Renee – hedgehog-like concierge of a grand Parisien apartment building and secret culture-hound/intellectual…
Those who feel inspired, as I do, by the greatness of small things will pursue them to the very heart of the inessential where, cloaked in everyday attire, this greatness will emerge from within a certain ordering of ordinary things and from the certainty that all is as it should be, the conviction that it is fine this way.
Here’s to the greatness within ordinary things.
I’ve just finished reading The Clamour King, and jolly good it was too. Those people at Snowbooks seem to have pretty good taste…
Next on my novels-to-read list is Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which comes highly recommended by my friend Susan, and then maybe Ray Robinson’s Electricity or Emma Darwin’s The Mathetmatics of Love.
It’s very unlike me to have so much fiction lined up – I don’t read very much fiction, especially when I’m novel-writing. Especially if it’s really good, as it makes me think I’m a fool to ever presume I could write anything even a tiny fraction as good. Re-reading Catcher in the Rye put me off for a whole month.
What has been your favourite novel this year?