Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday frivolity

Rachel Cooke interviews Jilly Cooper at the Observer. I find the novels of Jilly Cooper completely addictive, they are really not very well-written at all in the conventional sense (and the one thing I genuinely disapprove of is her habit of putting bad puns in the mouths of characters regardless of whether it suits their personality or not, she should pick one suitable character and give that person all the bad jokes) and yet I will read them again and again in spite of their badness. There is something very delightful about her sunny view of human nature and her romantic temperament; this interview definitely gets it across, and in fact although I just ordered a bunch of Amazon UK books in a fit the other day (the new Alan Warner novel, Jenny Diski's new collection, Jake Arnott's new novel but also the Long Firm trilogy in one volume which I just wanted although I have read them all already but it is time to reread--and yeah, the shipping added up to almost twenty pounds, I felt ludicrously extravagant) I think I am going to have to order this one as well. I can't imagine it's being published in the US, those books (not the early romance ones but the funny sprawling "sex and drink among the trashy upper classes" ones of more recent years) don't seem to translate very well. Pity: I find them absolutely delightful. (Thanks to Sarah for the link.)

I am relieved to find myself straightforwardly coveting a trashy novel, I have been suffering more acutely than usual from this spell of anhedonia I can't seem to shake--I went to the excellent and highly light-readingesque Porter Square Books yesterday evening to see if I could find something I really wanted to read but after moping around the store for half an hour I still hadn't seen a single book that made my mouth water--I expect it was partly the weight of all these books back at the apartment as well, and in the end I just came back here and finished reading the B. S. Johnson biography (not a particularly anhedonia-dispelling book unless your spirits lift at the thought of the suffering of others).

But you know, partly the problem is that the particular kind of book I want to read in this mood is not produced in sufficiently high quantity and quality. Jilly Cooper aside (she is sui generis, there is nobody else like her), the kind of book that makes me most delighted is very well-written young-adult fantasy that is as complex and satisfying as adult fiction. And in fact what prompted me to write Dynamite No. 1 as opposed to some completely different novel was my determination to write the kind of book I most want to read: I realized one day that almost every month I went by the Bank Street Bookstore (oh, that store has virtually the same web template as Porter Square Books, must be some kind of shared service) and skulked along the young-adult shelves looking for a brand-new really wonderfully good young-adult trilogy (along the lines of Philip Pullman and Garth Nix) but that of course nothing had miraculously appeared since my last too-recent visit.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy? And then there's Elizabeth Knox's The Rainbow Opera,though only a second volume is planned.