Ah the Summer Holidays. Every year I begin it with ambitious plans to catch up on the blog, the housework, the gardening, my TBR list – pile – mountain, planning for next year…. Every year, those six weeks stretch out with the promise of that most elusive thing: time, opportunity, leisure. And every year, it does not work out that way! Especially with a five-year old! Love every moment with her! But she is very demanding of time and attention!
I’m considering changing the title of these updates to Reading Round-Ups: that way it wouldn’t matter if I slipped up (again) and missed a weekly addition! Addition…edition… addition… yes, addition
So, making a start of the Man Booker Longlist, I read Snap by Belinda Bauer in a couple of days and enjoyed it immensely although I enjoyed it for what it was: an excellent – and unexpectedly but welcomely humourous – crime novel with improbably rapscallion child cat burglars – I mean cat burglars?! Really?! – and paternally minded fences who run their operations like a family business and pseudo-magical knives. All great! A great read! But not a great book.
What was a great book was The Overstory by Richard Powers, also Man Booker Longlisted. It says a lot that I have chosen to take time to digest this one before reviewing it properly, but it was gorgeous! Ambitious will be a word for the review: multiple characters from a range of backgrounds, some of whom come with stories that cover generations and are told at the pace of the trees they plant, cherish, owe their lives to, pass blindly on the street. It is one of those books which will stay with me and seep into the way I live my life. All wrapped up in gorgeous lyrical prose.
Reading this after Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fires, I also notice that both novels raise the same question – over very different issues: in what circumstances is civil and civic disobedience the only moral and honest response to a political regime. I do wonder whether this is a response to Trump, Brexit, populism and the rise of this so-called post-truth world…
My next book on the Longlist to delve into is The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner which so far, perhaps 20% of the way in, I’m enjoying very much. The voice of the main narrator in the non-linear stream-of-consciousness narrative, a sex worker and convicted murderer, is very compelling and authentic – it says something that the voice inside my head has an American accent as I read it!
The other development this holiday is that I have been approved on both NetGalley and The IndieView, through both of which I have either asked for ARCs or – very flatteringly – been contacted to be asked to write a review.
My problem is, as I began this post, time: reading is a passion, a pleasure and my TBR list has become mountainous without adding more to it! I do have some favourite writers and genres, but try to extend beyond them, and the Man Booker, Costa, Carnegie all allow that. Yet, at the same time, I know that there can be some hidden gems out there, yet to find a publisher; and, as an aspiring writer, I feel a bond and obligation to other aspiring writers to give what little foothold I can offer.