Monday, 29 March 2010

We need to talk about Gilead

Anonymous asked me what to do if you started Home and didn't like it.
Of course, I don't really know how to answer that because I can't imagine how you could start it and not like, but then, Gilead was written first so I suppose you should read it first, really.

The thing is that I loved it even more than Home, but so much of that was because Home is told from what turns out to be such an incomplete perspective. Home is all hints at the past and part-stories and implication that terrible things have happened, so reading Gilead after it is like shining lights into all of the corners, only that's wrong, because it's still only glowing, not really lit.
The voice in Gilead is more real, and John Ames becomes a character that you have to care so deeply about and, through him, you care about Jack too, in a way that you can't so much in Home. The reverend's internal wrestlings, his tortured attempts at honesty with himself, and the piles of regret about how and why things have happened in his life and that of others - they all pulled me in, in a way that made the behinds of my eyes hurt. If you didn't like Home, I'd say you should try again, because I think this was a fortunate and lovely way round to read the two, but if you can't, then I implore you to try Gilead.

I think I've reached 15, which was Verne's Around the world in eighty days. I did enjoy it, though not in an eye-hurty way, and of course I was a little let down by the fact that there wasn't a lion in a top hat dancing round a lamp post.

Still on what you might call the classics, and making good use of my ebook reader, I went straight on to the very very quick read of 16 The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - atmospheric and fun and actually with plenty of food for thought, and since I'm ashamed to say I've never read Treasure Island it's moved me on to starting that, number 17 and promising to be another speedy read, but no less good for that.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Completer-finisher weekend - part 2

By dint of barely leaving my chair other than for domestic necessities, I've managed my goal of finishing number 11, Crime and Punishment, this weekend. I always get to a point of wanting to finish something even when I'm loving it, and this one has kept me engaged and troubled for weeks at about 5 pages a night, but I was ready for a bit of immersion and have finally had it.
I wasn't expecting a happy ending! (Though you must admit he's no Agatha Christie - I mean, I'd worked out who did it almost straight away....)
The welshman has done his part by completer-finishing some shelves, so all's good and organised and I get to start thinking about new things. Knitting-wise, it's a sock, I suppose I should say a pair of socks, though one seems hard enough; on the reading front I'll be choosing something else from the ebook reader, though I don't yet know what, but perhaps I'll take a day or two away from fiction and start 14 Galbraith's The Affluent Society which I found in a pelican the other day and is calling to me.
Why have I skipped 13? Not superstition: I just haven't talked yet about Gilead, which is essentially a sequel to Home but left me so bereft that I've not yet geared up the strength to write about it. I will.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Completer-finisher weekend

The cardigan is finished!
(Well, not technically absolutely finished, it's just on top of the wardrobe blocking (being blocked?), but the ends are all sown in, and the button's on, so as soon as it's dry it's good to go).
Please send me wishes that baby Caitlin isn't going to have, while waiting for it, grown too big to fit in it. I can't bear to find out in person: I'm going to stick it through the letterbox in an envelope tomorrow morning.

I also finally finished The uses of literacy which was the first book that I started this year - I think it will go into the area that I'm glad I've read, but probably wouldn't rush back to. It's just a little too closely of its time and some of the attitudes shown in it are a little bit off-putting to me, now. Having said this, it's definitely enthused me to continue both adding to and reading through my pelican collection.

It would be brilliant and not entirely unachievable to finish Crime and Punishment this weekend, too, and if I do then I'll be going on and on about it.