Monthly Archives: January 2010

Read and drink more

Last year my new years resolution was to drink more, I felt that with this I was not doomed to failure. This year to read more. Set realistic goals. Be happy, be lazy. Exercise is not good for you, I pulled my shoulder last week pretending to be healthy. Reading wins, it doesn’t hurt, (unless the book makes you blub a bit).

Just read Last night In Twisted River. John Irving is brilliant, I’ve liked him for years. I leant A Prayer for Owen Meaney, to my Gran when she was in hospital a few years ago. All the doctors and nurses kept saying ‘Oh, I’ve read that book, I love it’ and really talking to her. She became transformed from an 80 year old to a person with simular interests to theirs. It is one of those moments when books are great.

When you have read a John Irving book you feel like you have experienced an entire life. His characters have got such great backstories. Reading this book I felt like putting it down all the time and saying ‘listen to this bit’ all the time to anyone passing. There are images that keep recurring through the story and he brings it all together masterfully. After spending a few happy hours on the sofa sipping wine with this book you feel like he’s taken you on a journey through someone elses world. Apparantly he writes the last sentances of his novels first, then he works it out backwards from there, so he always knows where his novels are heading. He was in London last year, I wanted to go and hear him talk but I couldn’t make it, come back again Mr. Irving, come to Manchester next time please! There is a bit on his website where he talks about the novel and some of the processes (it’s too short though, more please). Apparently his favourite writer is Herman Melville, to my shame I have not read Moby Dick. When I had a look at the website I realised there is another John Irving book that I haven’t read, hurrah.

Before then I read The Bird Room by Chris Killen, he is Manchester based and I saw his blog on the Manchizzle site which is what chose me to get it. It is his first novel. Compared to John Irving this book is more like a snapshot of someones life. He takes us right into the mind of the narrator. I liked the vulnerability and his unease with himself and the world around him. The unsaid feelings that are under the surface. Very readable.

Just finished The Coma by Alex Garland today, his Dad his illustrated the book with his woodcuts which I thought was pretty nice. I didn’t know that Alex Garland wrote a book called 28 Days Later. I wonder if this is what they based the film on. If it is I think I should read it.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
Kalooki Nights – Howard Jacobson
Vladimir Nabokov – Mary
Carry me Down, M. J Hyland – really loved this.
Eric Ambler – Epitaph for a spy
The Tent – Margaret Atwood
Joe Brand – Autobiography
We have always lived in the castle – Shirley Jackson – really liked this.
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
Black Swan Green – David Mitchell (great)
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafron – (Enjoyed this)
Brokeback Mountain and other stories – Annie Proux (good stuff)
Brixton Beach – Roma Tearne
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (Interesting way to have an omniscient narrator that can also talk in first person. Better than the film)
Exit Music – Ian Rankin (Accidentally read the final Rebus novel first, whoops)
Girl from the South – Joanna Trollope (yuk, no comment)
Love in The Present Tense – Catherine Ryan Hyde – (Enjoyed this, good example how to do an engaging shifting first person narrative)
Suite Fancaise – Irene Nemirovsky – (great story about how individuals cope under extreme circumstances)
John Irving – Last Night In Twisted River (I heart John Irving)
Alex Garland – The Coma – (is he awake or asleep? Liked the illustrations)
Chris Killen – The Bird Room – (Sad,vulnerable and interesting, enjoyed it)
Yvette Weiss – A passage through time – (terrible terrible, what a stinker)

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For Every Year

Happy new year! If you haven’t visited ‘For Every Year’ it is a site by Crispin Best. The site is trying to get story contributions for every year since 1400. Mine is up now it is called ‘Martin Luther’.


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