Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not So Sweet Worlds

Tonight I am off to my first ever book club meeting! The first title on our reading list is: Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates).I love Yates but I'd left this near the bottom of my To Read list because I had already watched the film. I know I am pretty much alone in thinking "movie first" is the best order in which to proceed with a book/movie combo, but I just think it makes so much more sense. Most people agree that the book is usually better than the movie, so this way around it minimises the chance of disappointment.

I find Yates' ability to conjure visuals with his words so strong that having seen the film a couple of years before reading the book made almost no difference to my reading experience. The images from the film faded from my mind after the first couple of pages. His writing is beautiful, sharp and desolate.

The only reason I wasn't more upset by the book was (I think) because I had just finished the emotionally raw Sweet Old World by Deborah Robertson. I found it tender, moving, melancholy and heartbreaking; it reminded me of feelings I've had and people I know and made me feel desperately sad for everyone. Yet it was still touching and gentle despite being so unutterably sad. It's hard to shy away from a book that feels so true, even if it is not about easy truths.

Soft, Sad and Beautiful

Yesterday I finished reading Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Oh I loved this book. It was soft and sad and beautiful, like Bach’s cello music. By the end, I loved the book’s characters the way they loved each other.

It made me remember all the awkward, lonely, longing and uncomfortableness of being a teenager. Despite being about loved ones dying, and jealousies in relationships, it’s really quite a gentle book which is - let’s be honest – often what I like the best.

It won't be published until June (I think) so please look out for it when it does turn up. If you want to read a book that reminds you of cold Autumn days in a forest, afternoons drinking tea with special people, and moments of surprising and sharp beauty then this is the book for you.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stuck In The Middle

Because it is such a long book, I was in the middle of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for several days. A colleague of mine who I shall refer to as Tim Tam has concurrently been in the middle of Middlemarch. Things became good-naturedly confusing on several occasions but eventually we had it all sorted out. We discovered to our amusement that both of us had had conversations where the person we'd been talking to thought we were reading the other "middle" book. In case anyone is still confused, this conversation illustrates the difference between the two books:

Tim Tam: I'm quite enjoying Middlemarch, but I still have a fair bit to go.
Me: I'm still reading Middlesex.
Tim Tam: Oh, are you?
Me: Yes. She's just discovered she's a he and has run away from home.
Tim Tam: Oh. Um... I don't think that happens in mine.



But enough of comparisons and on to the meat of Middlesex itself. I enjoyed every one of it's 530 odd pages. It made me realise with great clarity how important fiction can be in illuminating truths. It tells the story of an intersex person with honesty and beautiful, awkward, realistic simplicity. There's no over the top razzle dazzle or even a whiff of this being an "Issue" book. It feels like the truth and that is a wonderful thing. I am very please to inform the eleventy-hundred people who have told me over the past decade that I will love this book that you were all right. I'm sorry it took so long but I am so glad I finally listened to your advice.