It’s been a bit of an unsettling time, once again. However, one thing has been resolved at least: I will start a new job in the summer with a different company. So that’s settled! For now I will work out my notice period, have a summer holiday in Cyprus (again) and enjoy time with family including granddaughter. Six years ago I started this blog, when granddaughter was born – it seems incredible that she will be going to school soon (she lives in Germany, kids start later there than in England).
I wonder if I should revert to some of my original thoughts when starting the blog: to write about things that might interest granddaughter. Over the years mine has become a ‘book blog’, with reviews and also some comments and snippets about travelling around, either when on holiday or for work. The concept seems ok though, so perhaps no real reason to change that, except that I don’t always feel like writing the reviews after having read the books! That’s a bit of a dilemma. I might diversify.
For now, I shall just give you the round-up of the things I have read, some books that I have enjoyed and others that I have quickly put aside, not wanting to spend more time on them by reviewing them. Life is too short and time to precious. Being restless does not help either.
Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto – This book won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2002 and is now being pushed by booksellers around, getting pride of place on the tables at the entrance, 3 for 2 sort of thing. I missed it at the time, and enjoyed the excellent depiction of the various characters in this kidnapping of a group of international high placed music lovers in a poor Latin American country. Although some of it seems unrealistic the story holds together wonderfully, mainly due to the Patchett’s writing craft.
David Szalay’s The Innocent – Quite a different book, with a focus on the Russian MGB, later the KGB and the imprisonment of a suspected ‘dissident’ in an isolated psychiatric clinic. The story is about the involvement of Aleksandr, a major in the MGB and the effect it has had on him, even 24 years later. It’s a quick read, and keeps you involved. I am easily drawn to books like this and what they tell about living in communist Russia, in an environment that appears to be about survival, come what may, in adverse political and geographical circumstances as well as a climate that seems to freeze the bones just reading the book!
Hakan Nesser – The Inspector and Silence. Another crime story and having finished this one I decided I was going to leave alone for a while even if I do like these ‘Inspector Van Veeteren Mysteries’: it’s beginning to feel like more of the same.
E.L. Doctorow’s Homer and Langley – this was shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize in 2009 and is quite an extraordinary story about two brothers who end up living together in a great mansion of a house in New York, that slowly but certainly falls apart around them. One of them, Homer, becomes blind when still a teenager and the older brother, Langley comes back from the First World War in Europe with gassed lungs. They are orphaned in 1918 when their parents die in a flu epidemic and continue to live in the house left them. It is funny and serious, sad and exhilarating, at times unbelievable, but all through a very enjoyable read.
So, these are out of the way. And reading now? Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That. It’s ok, but definitely not as good as We Must Talk About Kevin. It rambles a bit at times, as if the pages need filling up, come what may. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to stick with it as by now I am curious what does happen to poor Shep Knacker: all he wants to do is get out and live on a remote island, fishing or something, and he ends up having to get on with it, with working and paying bills in order to retain health insurance for his wife, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The blurb of the book says that it’s about stress caused by a medical crisis and the fiscal question about how much a life is worth. I’d say it’s just as much about a man losing his lifelong dream, one I vaguely associate with as I have just, once more, put aside all dreams of becoming a full-time writer for the sake of future pension benefits and enduring comforts of day-to-day life. I definitely feel for Shep Knacker.
So remember: Corri = Seachanges….