Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?


Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

There’s a first time for most things – and often that can be a fine time. Pseudaletia has enjoyed encountering Toni Morrison and The Song Of Solomon:

It was amazing, and is the first novel in a long time that has stayed with me. I had read that she was a mix of Faulkner, Gabriel – Marquez and others, and she did not disappoint. I don’t know what her later works are like, but I have one on order from the library.

I don’t understand/am generally not interested in finance, and when I watched the film I still struggled to get what was going on (despite the “explanations for dummies” section). This book is fascinating – punchy, concise and full of fascinating characters. For the first time I can maybe see how finance could be sort of interesting.

Kitty Maule is successful in her work and actually has a couple of reasonably good friends. However, she has a huge blind spot that ends in a rather public humiliation. You walk alongside her for 180 pages just knowing that the fall is coming. When it does, Brookner doesn’t even give her a chance to put her hands out to brace herself. She is clueless to the very end. Just a metaphorical full faceplant. Brutal.

A depressed creative writing lecturer takes a sabbatical in the country to write the Great American novel, but the manuscript is stolen by a greedy bear, who claims the novel as his own, and is greeted by the New York literati as the new Hemingway. Beautifully written and laugh out loud funny – why this novel hasn’t become a classic is a mystery to me.

I am still deep in the teeming streets and tangled thickets of this magnificent book with no idea how it will be resolved, if at all. But for now all those streets and drawing rooms, woods and esplanades, may be very beautifully written but they also feel dangerous and sinister. First, Bowen’s prose can be incomparable, beginning on the first page with a breathtaking evocation of London in January. Second, there is the psychological acuity. There is, for example, a scene relatively early on in which Matchett, the servant, sits with Portia as she tries to fall asleep – it made me gasp several times as it revealed ever more, increasingly unsettling, layers to what had at first appeared to be merely an affectionate relationship based in familiarity. It was masterly. I cannot wait to finish.

I think it’s a lovely book. It seems unusual in that the characters are pleasant and considerate. I also like how Mr Myers has presented Robert as a character with limited experience but an intelligence that opens him to awareness and understanding. Myers also times the development of the characters really well.

The novel does what the best writing does – makes me envious of the skill and crafting of the piece and has put me, myself, in the narrator’s shoes. Also I think back to my own youth and some of my experiences.

It might not seem like an obvious choice, but it has a few things quite noticeably in its favour: firstly, it is set in the distant past, so we are spared any zany pop culture references; secondly, it isn’t blatantly modelled on an existing text, though it echoes One Thousand and One Nights; and it is the only Rushdie novel I’ve encountered with an invisible narrator, as opposed to some of the others, in which it feels like the author is Morris dancing provocatively just out of reach. The book is more in the realm of pure fantasy than “Magic Realism”, though historical figures are mentioned, including Vlad the Impaler, who is one of the pack of warlords, sultans and dictators who are engaged in bloody territorial disputes in the narrative. I highly recommend it for fans of escapism.

Now THAT is how you write a detective parody. Brautigan somehow manages to deliver a gripping (if slightly bizarre) private eye novel while simultaneously satirising the entire genre. It’s just great. I’m starting to run out of his books now … A sad day is approaching!

The 50 best one-star Amazon reviews of Goodnight Moon.

“If you believe that Amazon sent out 800 (or more) copies accidentally, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida I’d like to sell you.” MobyLives weighs in on those escaped copies of Margaret Atwood’s new novel.

“Giovanni’s Room was Baldwin’s bastard child in the way he was a bastard child.” Hilton Als on James Baldwin’s extraordinary novel.

The many literary landscapes of Tokyo.

Ann Cleeves on World Book Club.

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