WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

I am struggling through Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth. It’s an easy read in terms of style, but Portnoy is a whiny child who irritates me.

I have also begun Legends of the Condor Heroes, Book 1, which Kit got me for my birthday. So far so good.

And yes, I am still not-reading-reading Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx. I should get back to it.

What did you recently finish reading?

www3The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge and The Boy On the Porch by Sharon Creech.

I enjoyed both books. They were the sort that provoked lots of self-reflection, which I like and find valuable and even comforting.

Goudge sheds light on life’s darkest moments, but her way is that of the Cross which I don’t subscribe to. Still, she doesn’t force it down your throat and herwww4 capacity to see good in all is a quality I admire.

Creech’s book was quirky, whimsical, charming and heart warming. I would have preferred an ending that was less sudden though. I can imagine what happens next, but I feel Creech could have provided more satisfaction by writing it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Often it takes a while to settle on a book that fits my mood. I have a few possibles, including Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Her True-True Name, edited by Pamela Modecai, and I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Most Recently Uploaded To My Kindle

It’s a freebie for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’m listing the ten books most recently uploaded to my Kindle. I have read The Exorcist and I was sent Not So Stories for review. As for the rest, just like paper-and-ink books, Kindle editions are acquired simply because you need to have these books (now!), never mind when you’re actually going to read them.

Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

Counternarratives by John Keene

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore

Where I’m Reading From by Tim Parks

Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm

An English Murder by Cyril Hare

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books/Authors I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading

The Artsy Reader Girl hosts this meme, and I join in if I think I have something to share.

I recently deleted a whole lot of books from my Kindle because I suspect I’ll never read them. In any case, some of these are there on Project Gutenberg and some on my shelves if I change my mind.

I’ll list the authors’names if there are several books by them that have been removed from my TBR list:

  1. Charlotte Yonge
  2. Edmund Crispin
  3. The Vampyre by John William Polidori
  4. Jose Saramago
  5. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
  6. Louisa May Alcott (I’d planned to read beyond the March family novels, and I did try, but I’m giving up. Just can’t seem to get on with her non-Little Women books. )
  7. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  8. Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. Keigo Higashino (I’ve made two attempts, the second time after I read Seicho Matsumoto, but I fear KH is not for me.)
  10. Kurt Vonnegut

You never know with books though. I might read them all eventually.

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday

It’s Wednesday! (Is it just me but has time started flying by again?)

What are you currently reading?

1. Separate Lies by Nigel Balchin

I wish I could find more books by Balchin. I own one other and wrote a post about it earlier today. This one is different and the same. Will try to write a review when I’m done.

2. Late in the Day: Poems 2010 – 2014 by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is my first close reading of her poems. They must be savoured, read slowly, heard. They may be more than poems, may be spells.

3. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin

How do you teach creative writing? How to explain how to write? I find it impossible, but Le Guin may offer some insight. Meant for committed writers, this guide should also be helpful to those who teach writing (heaven help us).

4. Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir 1926 – 1939

Sartre is lovely when he’s not theorising and being a pompous intellectual. This has been on my TBR list for years.

5. Letters to Sartre by Simone de Beauvoir

I was waiting to have this before starting No. 4.

What did you recently finish reading?

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Here’s the review I wrote.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m aiming for Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyms, Corpse de Ballet: A Nine Muses Mystery: Terpsichore by Ellen Pall and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, but who knows.

Books from My Shelves: Darkness Falls From the Air by Nigel Balchin

I’m going to start doing a series featuring books from my shelves because it’s something I love to read about in other blogs: accounts of personal book collections; favourite childhood reads; books that belonged to parents and grandparents; treasured flea market finds, that sort of thing.

nb1

I’m kicking off the series with Darkness Falls From the Air by Nigel Balchin, a rather obscure English author from the 40s and 50s. Darkness Falls is set during the second World War and written while it was happening. It was published in 1942 and the copy from my shelves is  the ‘Services Edition’, published in 1945.

I found this book in the family bookcase when I was in my early teens and read it without understanding it. However, I loved the writing style, especially the dialogue, which is not how people speak in Malaysia, but was strangely familiar and pleasing anyway.

The novel is about Bill Sarratt, an English civil servant who is living in London during the worst of the Blitz and how he deals with the bureaucratic nonsense at his office, and also the affair his wife, Marcia, is having with a melodramatic poet.

nb3 copyrightI found it a fascinating and horrifying read at fourteen. Bill’s wit and sarcasm was very funny and alien, and his lifestyle exciting and glamorous despite his wry and disparaging descriptions of how the war had disrupted London nightlife and made everything dreary and difficult. Then there was the situation with his wife, which I did not comprehend at first and when I did, did not believe. I still find it a little hard to imagine a husband being so cool about his wife’s infidelity, but it is very much who Bill Sarratt is. Also, I happen to be currently reading Balchin’s Separate Lies (originally published as A Way Through the Wood) and the protagonist is another man who is strangely cool and calm when he discovers that his wife has been unfaithful. Perhaps this was something Balchin experienced in his personal life and was trying to work through in his fiction. In anycase, I find that, at fifty, it’s still something I am interested in thinking about. Certainly, in both books, the two men’s reactions are very much in character and not at all implausible. It’s my own feelings that are at odds with how they behave, but that makes the stories more interesting.

nb5 backMy copy of Darkness Falls belonged to my late mother and was ‘produced for the Services Central Book Depot Artillery House, Handel Street, London, W.C. 1 for circulation to the Fighting Forces of the Allied Nations’.

I don’t know when my mother acquired the book. She would have been twelve in 1945 and the story is quite a grim one, although told in a light, offhand tone. However, I wasn’t much older when I first read it and, anyway, don’t all twelve-year-olds read books too mature for them? Her signature on the epigraph page is a bit wobbly so she probably wasn’t much past twelve.

On the last page of the novel, she writes ‘The End’ a couple of times as if practising her penmanship. It’s precious and one reason why I will never part with this book.