callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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What I'm trying to read

It’s about time I wrote some more about books. I am romping away with Selina Hastings’ biography of Evelyn Waugh. At the beginning of this book she says that there is room for three biographies: the memoir by a personal friend, the academic one and the general narrative. I’ve already read the Christopher Sykes and Martin Stannard biographies but unaccountably not this ‘general’ one. Although almost everything about Waugh’s life offends my lower middle class sensibilities I still find it endlessly fascinating. I think it’s because out of snobbishness, bad behaviour and what he himself called ‘disgusting drunkenness’ came dedication, craftsmanship and supreme wit. This book reads as easily as a novel: it’s terrific.

After enjoying Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name I read Vendela Vida’s first novel, And Now You Can Go. It’s well written and keeps your interest but is not such a compelling story as the other one. It is spare, again, and short. I wish I could say the same about Angels by Marian Keyes. I only bought this because someone at the market was selling books for 10p each or six for 50p and I thought I might as well get my money’s worth. This is my current bedtime book and seems to have been so for weeks and weeks. I will come clean at once and say I am finding this a slow, boring book with a lot of jokes in it and a dull heroine. I am forever seeing Marian Keyes’ name on the jackets of other people’s books, recommending them, so obviously publishers and a section of the reading public think a lot of her or, perhaps, of her sales. I see she is described on the cover of this book as the successor to Maeve Binchy. Ah, that explains it. I’ve only read one book by Maeve Binchy and I found that far too long, slow and boring, too.

By one of those strange coincidences, both dovegreyreader and Susan Hill have been recommending Penelope Fitzgerald just at the very time I had picked up two of her books. I knew I’d read something by her before but I had to check a bibliography before I could remember the titles. Then I found I couldn’t remember one single thing about these books. I decided to tackle The Blue Flower, described as her masterpiece and a work of genius and I am really struggling with it. It's a work of remarkable historical imagination but I would far rather read the story as straight history. Perhaps it is one of those literary novels Nick Hornby couldn’t get on with, either (see this post).
Tags: books, evelyn waugh, marian keyes, penelope fitzgerald, vendela vida

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