Metroland, Julian Barnes
Citizen Clem , John Bew
Mr Pim Passes By, A A Milne
Land of Plenty , Charlie Pye-Smith
The Green Man, Kingsley Amis
The Man Between , Charles Cumming
The Way of all Flesh, Ambrose Parry with Chris Brookmyre & Dr Marisa Haetzman.
Chloe Marr, A A Milne
Two People, A A Milne
I decided to re-read Julian Barnes’ early novel Metroland (1980) when I’d finished The Only Story. Showing the way Barnes was to go on, it’s a first person retrospective novel with the narrator, now comfortably settled, looking back at the decisions which landed him where he is now. It begins with two clever schoolboys quite naturally despising pretty well everything but especially the comfortable middle-class life of Metroland. Their paths diverge; one becoming an angry left-wing writer, the narrator eventually opting for a life not that different from his parents’ and finding it pleasant. I’ve always liked the book and enjoyed the read.
I just wanted a quote from The Green Man for my post about Land of Plenty
but it’s so good I started reading and couldn’t stop, even though I knew it would scare me silly all over again. It really is one of the most frightening books I’ve ever read. Amis wrote so well and here’s just one example. Victor Hugo, the narrator’s Siamese cat, ‘toppled onto my feet like an elephant pierced by a bullet in some vital spot.’ Ever had a cat? See what I mean?
The Way of all Flesh by Ambrose Parry is a first novel (and first of a series), co-written by Chris Brookmyre and consultant anaesthetist Dr Marisa Haetzman. It’s set in Edinburgh in the mid-nineteenth century, where Old Town and New Town are poles apart. There’s a lot of medical detail, which you need a strong stomach for but the main focus of the story is an investigation into what Raven, a young trainee doctor, is sure are murders of young women who deserve to be more than just ‘another deid hoor’. His collaborator is a remarkable character, Sarah, a housemaid of unusual intelligence and resourcefulness, who resents the limitations she faces through being a woman. As the book won’t be published until the end of August, I’ll say no more about it now.
I was in the mood for reading ‘real’ books rather than e-books and took advantage of an offer from The Book People on five novels by A A Milne which would otherwise be hard to find. I’m on the last one now and if I get round to it, will say something about them as a group.