Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Other books read recently ...

... for which I shan't be posting reviews, however much I'd like to.

  • Geoffrey Eugenides, Middlesex - a long but readable and funny epic of incest, dislocation and hermaphroditism;
  • Sarah Waters, The Night Watch - an again long, but highly readable and fascinating, peek into nascent homosexuality, and associated emotional issues, in 1940s London;
  • Linda Grant, The Clothes on their Backs - shortlisted for the Booker last year, though many of my book club couldn't quite see why, this is funny and unusual, but emotionally rather sterile;
  • Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life - this is brilliant - profound and delicate, with both reverence and wry humour shown towards Proust and his work;
  • Christopher Isherwood, Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin - two fairly meandering, short novels based around Nazi-ising Berlin in the 1930s. Funny and vivid - and they based Cabaret on Goodbye to Berlin, so look here if you want to see the original Sally Bowles ...
  • Jessica Adams, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Maggie Alderson, Kathy Lette et al, In Bed With - a selection of erotic stories which are supposed to subvert the genre. To be honest, I only got that subversion vibe from two of the twelve odd stories in there. The rest were playful, yes, occasionally funny, but rather predictable, and a bit too many rippling muscles for my liking (qv. Mills and Boon). They're all anonymous, but the one written by Ali Smith is pretty easily identifiable, and that one is rather nice (naturally). (Oh yes - on a wee tangent - I met her recently at a Cambridge Wordfest event, and she is super-nice. I now have lovely messages inside a few of my books. And I made her giggle. Eek!)
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (oh yes)- no introduction needed, of course. I hadn't read this since I was 16, and had forgotten how wonderful it is. More on which soon.
  • Shakespeare, The Tempest (for some tutoring I've been doing)- am realising how much better (and how much easier to understand) Shakespeare is if you read it aloud. It takes rather longer, but it does mean I can put on an Ian McKellen-style voice for Prospero.
Currently I'm on Fiona Shaw's Tell It to the Bees, for a book club.

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