Friday, 23 August 2013

Bout of Books 8.0: Friday

Bout of Books


11AM:

No work today, thankfully - forcing myself awake was an uphill struggle, though I've only been back at work for two days! I've had breakfast and coffee, done a bit of cleaning and still I'm feeling half-zombie. Blame it on the weather, I think. (I'd prefer that to getting ill.)

Well, I didn't get to my target of page 400 of In One Person last night, unfortunately, but I am in the nice middle section of the book which means it will sit nicely on my book chair without flopping to one side or the other. This crafty little device means that I can read and knit at the same time.

Just before I fell asleep last night, I came to a plot revelation which came as an utter surprise to me, although it really shouldn't have done, as it was given away on the back cover! I just didn't know who/what the blurb was describing when I read the relevant part, probably due to the timeline-hopping narrative. I'm not sure if the writing was clever or if I was stupid. The extra knowledge makes earlier scenes read very differently, which plays into Irving's technique of repeating sentences or scenes, context adding extra layers of understanding. Interesting.

2PM

I've made good progress with In One Person, with about 150 pages still to go. (It's a big book.) I plan to finish the book today, and hopefully get started on my next (either Necropolis or The Cuckoo's Calling.) 

I love literature with bookish or nerdy protagonists, because bookish books lead to more books. (I recently read Lovecraft because he seemed inescapable in my reading of the darker side of fantasy.) Irving's protagonist has got a lot of his emotional education from both plays and novels, and I've just come across a reference to The Merchant of Venice, which is a Shakespeare play I've never read or seen, but have wanted to for a long time. Time to add my Complete Shakespeare to the to-read pile, I think. (Not that all the plays have to be read in the near future. Complete Shakespeare and Dickens doesn't count as to-be-read in the conventional way. They're there, waiting patiently, and hopefully all the works will get read at some point in my lifetime.)

Continuing with the Neil Gaiman theme that seems to have crept into this week's blog posts, I stumbled upon this video online full of wise words for budding writers. I haven't written an awful lot of fiction in the last couple of years, which has left me feeling rather lost and a bit empty, but Mr Gaiman's advice is encouraging and inspiring. 




7PM

I reached the end of In One Person, which is a solid, well-written and enjoyable literary novel of a man's life and the relationships and experiences which formed his identity. It's gently amusing in places, with likable characters and a good humour running throughout, but tinged with enough sadness to render the Independent's description of it as a "comedy" an odd choice. If I have a criticism, it is that the final quarter reads as somewhat of an obituary column - there are not many of Billy's friends and former lovers left by the end. Obviously, if this book charts the first sixty-odd years of a man's life, death of loved ones is inevitable, but it went a little over-the-top, in my opinion. In One Person was a read-once book for me, but it was well worth the time and investment. 

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