Saturday, July 24, 2004

Summer reading

Check out this great little essay by Jake Arnott about how he came to be a "paperback writer." I am back from my so-called "holiday," which had its moments but was on the whole rather depressing. I consoled myself by reading many novels while I was away. Some of the high points (I'm not going to link to them all, they're easily enough found on Amazon):

Elizabeth Young's collection of essays titled Pandora's Handbag (a work of complete genius; criminal that it's not better-known in the US; BUY THIS BOOK)

Jake Arnott's truecrime

Lee Child's latest (this man's thrillers are far superior to the competition, if you like ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek fast-paced international action. this one is appealing because it gives Jack Reacher's back-story)

Eva Ibbotson's The Star of Kazan (I love her books, they are a major guilty pleasure)

Edward P. Jones, The Known World (this book lives up to every ounce of hype--it's both a remarkably satisfying read and one of those books that makes you shake your head in amazement at how he ever thought of such a thing--he really makes up a WORLD and the book just happens to exist as a chronicle of it--I love the way he jumps ahead and tells you how a character's life will end thirty years later, then goes back to whatever he was saying before--must read his short-story collection too, though generally I avoid those like plague--last really great one I read was Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges)

All right, that's enough. I did read a whole bunch of others, including Monica Ali's Brick Lane (technically v. impressive but slightly dull, I can see why it didn't end up winning any of those big prizes though it certainly deserved nomination--but Mark HAddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night was about a hundred times more delightful and memorable... sorry, Monica... it wasn't that I didn't like your book, but it was just a little too much like Alan Hollinghurst's The Folding Star--like someone who would turn the clock back to the nineteenth-century French novel if it were possible). Also some pretty funny eighteenth-century books at the British Library--the best ones were about livestock.

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