The Sunday Salon – 13 July 2008
It is curious how the books you read at any one time influence your own writing and your approach to writing. I picked up Anne Enright’s The Gathering at the beginning of the week from the pile of books that’s currently on my desk, all tbr. I don’t know how or when I expect to get through them all, but anyway, I picked up Anne Enright and found myself enthralled as well as slightly, what? , disliking it?, overwhelmed?, irritated?, wanting it to be over with but unable to put it down? All of those things really, the speed of her writing, the sentences that seem to crawl one into the other and then take off again at high speed so that you cannot keep up and have to go back and reread because you did not quite get what it was that was being revealed, described, hinted at. Yes, it’s a very dense book, the subject area one that is highly in fashion especially when it’s about large Irish (and catholic) families, but this story seems to be related in a slightly different tone, more rebellious, angry, giving us the technique of good writing as well. And then you feel you are being carried away with it and yes, you do want to know why she is so angry, this woman, this child of a family of 12 and 7 miscarriages and then you realise that she does not realise herself until she gets to the end of the story and knows what happened to her brother, who is now dead. So, one of those books that you want to read, if only for its capability and mastery of this angry and urgent style of telling a story, without becoming soppy or sentimental.
Reading this compelled me to get on with my own writing, with my own stories so from that point of view it was helpful, if slightly intimidating. I ended up writing the beginning of another short story and some extra paragraphs here and there to my main project.
So what will I read today and the rest of the week? There are the papers of course, and I love going through the book reviews, the short stories, the odd poem that I find there. Following on from my reference to mslexia and its article on e-books, Nick Hornby in the News Review provides his verdict on e-books under the title ‘I’ll never be caught reading an e-book. It is, he says ‘attempting to sell people something for £400 that merely enables them to read something that they won’t buy at one hundredth of the price’ and this ‘seems to me a thankless task.’ There you have it, ‘the truth is that people don’t like reading books much anyway: a 2004 survey of 2,000 adults found that 34% did not read books at all.’ There’s a sobering thought! Nick Hornby’s article can also be found on his blog at http://nickhornby.campaignserver.co.uk.
I must pick up a book that is easy to carry around as I will be on the road again next week, two days in Wales and two days in London so I will carry my memory stick to plug into the laptop if and when and perhaps a book of short stories for the nights in the hotel, or one of the novels on my tbr shelf. Last night I picked up Breath by Tim Winton and could not stop reading until well after 12, burning the midnight oil. It is as breathtaking as reviewers have promised and will take me nicely though today.