Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Update Part 2

Pete pointed out that I'd missed a book in my crime write up in the last post so first, before we get to the non-crime stuff I did also read The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. Some of you will know of my deep and abiding loathing of translated fiction but I'm doing OK with this series so far. The translation seems to be of a high standard, as does the original writing. I'm really looking forward to the last book which is due at the beginning of October.

So, moving on, I had a brief flirtation with teenage fiction and read Twilight. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So I've read it, I think I can see why teenage girls are flocking to the book in droves, and I did quite enjoy it in an odd spectatorish way. Parts of it are very badly written but the plot moves quickly and some of the characters are endearing in a teenager-ish way. What annoyed me about it was the really quite clumsy flag-waving for the abstinence brigade. Blood-sucking, that's fine but sex is totally out of the question!

Back in the land of grown-ups I had a Bookerish turn. Now, my loathing of Booker winning (or even nominated) books is pretty much on par with anything translated. But I've just read two of this years nominated books and liked both of them. Shock horror!

I started with The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. A beautifully written ghost story, set in a crumbling mansion in Warwickshire just after the war. It had me gripped from start to finish. Well, I thought, this really ought to win.

Then I read The Children's Book by A S Byatt. It's a whopping great book, over 600 pages, so that's a big chunk of reading time, but I just couldn't put it down. The book runs from about 1895 through to just after the Great War following the children of an extended family. Woven throughout is the development of the Arts and Crafts movement, the building of the V&A museum and the political upheaval of the period. It's a wonderfully textured book, filled with ceramics and textiles, puppets and theatre. The language of the book draws heavily on that of the creative arts. It's skilfully woven together and in the background looms the threat of a war which will destroy everything. It's a masterpiece.

So now I'm torn. I've never read a Booker winner that I liked, so I guess that ends any chance either of these books had of winning. Now I'm wondering if I should read another of the longlist. Anyone care to suggest which one I read? William Trevor? Colm Toibin? Any recommendations?

While on a roll with quality fiction I read Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I'd not read any of her before and I knew I should sort that out. I'm hoping to get around to Gilead before the end of the year. I thought Housekeeping was excellent with a fantastic narrative voice. It put me in mind of Alice Munro, who has long been a favourite of mine. Which reminds me that I haven't read any of her more recent work.

What am I reading now? I'm trying to catch up with Michael Connolly who has been producing 2 books a year lately. I hope he's not going all James Patterson. Anyway I'm reading The Brass Verdict, follow up to The Lincoln Lawyer. So far it's pretty good.

I'm off to The Festival of Quilts at the NEC on Thursday where I'm hoping to be inspired and possibly do a little fabric shopping. Full report later in the week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello from Sid in Florida! I also read the Twilight books on a whim- and to see what my students were talking about. I also have mixed feelings about the "messages" in the books. And yet, I have read 3 of them and am decidedly on Team Jacob- much to Natalie's chagrin! Anyhow, the best thing to say is that the books have young people reading and wanting more and that is always a good thing.