Sunday, 11 July 2010

Final one for today

Bearing in mind it was about three weeks ago that I sorted out the books for the project, I'm making progress, and certainly haven't broken the no-buying rule (the new Italian grammar that's on the way definitely doesn't count, as it's reference).
So, in fiction I had a pretty enjoyable couple of hours on a Saturday morning with 34 The Alchemist which I think is technically Ruairi's copy, and I've put off reading it for years now because of the hype but it's actually quite simple and enjoyable, and I'm a sucker for a bit of homespun philosophy, really. I mean, it's not life-changing, and it's not as deep as it pretends to be, but it did what I ask of fiction, removed me for a while, and I'm not sorry I read it.
On a pattern of getting no real chance to get stuck into fiction except at weekends, I didn't even manage that last weekend because of hen-jollities, but yesterday afternoon was passed with Margaret Atwood, 35 Bodily Harm. It's some way off her best: I think it was quite an early one and in those young days she hadn't quite mastered plots, but the writing is so clean and convincing that you forgive the plots. Unlike the Blind Assassin, though, it's not one I'll be rushing back to.

In non-fiction, I had mixed feelings about 36 The Time Being. It was more auto-ethnography like the Ellis above, by Quinney this time, and I'd read such a lovely piece by him in the Berger and Quinney anthology also above, that I leapt at the idea of a whole book of it. The good bits were perfect and wonderful and inspiring and thought-provoking and sent me off my bench with a light step and a belief in the boundless possibilities of the universe; the bad bits were self indulgent, like being trapped next to an old drunk who wants to tell you all about how his first wife didn't understand him, his second (much younger) wife does, and he really has a, like, mystical sense of the universe.

So a bit mixed there, but a more resounding hit from the unlikely 37 The Empty Hours, a Pelican by Oswin, about the weekend life of children in institutions. It was written in the mid-sixties, I think (perhaps early seventies, but thereabouts) and again is in case study form, visiting a range of institutions/ residential schools/ hospitals for children with both mental and physical handicaps and looking at where they did and didn't work. I've no idea why I had a copy of this on the shelf but it was fascinating, and sort of appalling, and you hope that a lot of the observations wouldn't hold true so much nowadays, and fear that they might.

On the go, as my morning benchbook I have the prequel to the time bind, as my carryabout Pelican I have RD Laing on schizophrenia, I'm still soldiering through the brothers karamazov as bedtime reading, and I'mdaytime fictionless. I think today could be another good one for a novel in the deckchair - sometimes you have to fortify yourself for a difficult week.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm, Dostoevski notwithstanding, it's a bit of a modern list. All praise for its seriousness, though. Have you got Gaskell's life of Charlotte Bronte on those admirably organised shelves? If not, I bet an elderly relative has a copy.....