Friday, 31 July 2009


Have finished Possession by A.S. Byatt.

An incredible, gorgeous, sumptuous, dive-right-in-and-wallow novel. Such fun to read.

I loved the structure of this book - it reminded me very much of A Suitable Boy (another novel on the list - one of my all-time favourites) in the author's use of epigrams and literary sophistication. I admire an author who can go from prose to poetry and back again. It only enhances the reading experience.

The parallel tales of Randolph/Christabel and Roland/Maud were touching, profound and deeply romantic. These romances were treated with dignity, subtlety and the appropriate amount of longing - at no point did either romance seem trite or salacious.

The idea of possession is woven throughout the novel - who possesses who, who possesses what, what belongs to one person and not another, etc. The idea of possession brings out the best and worst in these characters...but it is possession and not obsession. Two very different things.

A line that Christabel speaks (in the diary of her cousin) affected me deeply, and seems entirely fitting to my ultimate goal. Her cousin speaks of a longing to be a good writer, and Christabel replies that to be a good writer, one must practice and practice and have patience - the writing will come. Indeed.

Next up: The King Of Torts by John Grisham. Yes, John Grisham. Hmmm.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Going Back To My Roots

Finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

Wow. I don't know if it is because I am now back in the American Midwest, or what...but this book had a powerful effect on me.

Sprawling yet intimate, this novel really captured the hopelessness and futility and facades that many families (in this case, a Midwestern one) possess. Yet there was also a feeling of longing and belonging. We may not like to admit where we come from, but we also feel that inevitable pull towards our roots.

Each member of the Lambert family is deeply flawed in his or her own way, but there is profound sympathy to be felt for each character - even in their most pathetic and needy moments.

I feel about this book as I felt when I watched the film Fargo...a heightened and/or distorted view of Midwestern reality. There is the similar feeling of gentle mockery - but no savagery. It is because we love where we are from that we can critique and analyse it to our heart's content.

Highly enjoyable...and for me, a very appropriate re-beginning.

Up next: Possession by A.S. Byatt.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Back In Business

Normal services resuming. Settling and ready to read again.

Next: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

Analysis in a few days' time.

Thanks for staying tuned.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A Small Hiatus

Sorry folks...

Having a life shift at the don't really have the time or inclination to read much.

Normal service will return in about two weeks.

Keep reading, though! I'll be back soon!


Friday, 3 July 2009

A Very British Caper

Finished The 39 Steps by John Buchan yesterday.

A fast-paced thriller...and a lot of fun to read. Not very heavy intellectually, but a good story. The reader, like the protagonist Richard Hannay, is immediately thrown into the action.

Hannay, bored with his London life (Dr. Johnson would have loved him), is unexpectedly caught up in an "intrigue", as they used to say - murder, espionage, false accusations, international conflict. He survives by his wit and moral courage - he feels he must do right by the stranger who confides in him.

Setting this novel on the eve of World War I gives the story its feeling of ominous tidings...the reader knows what Hannay is up against...and the inevitability of world conflict. Hannay cannot prevent certain events, but he can definitely clear his own name and do justice to the strange American who inexplicably puts all of his trust into Hannay.

Like I said, this novel is rather light due to its pace, but the subject matter is serious, and Hannay's earnestness and sense of what is right and what is wrong gives it a much-needed dose of gravitas.

Highly enjoyable - and very, very British. What fun, sport.

Next up: Villette by Charlotte Bronte.