Indie Book of the Week
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John Vorhaus

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Reading Plan: August 2011

It feels like I’ve been reading almost non-stop this month, although looking back it turns out I’ve only shuffled my way through an average number of books. Still, those did include the complex London Fields, and the lengthy Gormenghast (review links at the bottom). As well as having a good reading month its been great to connect with many of you via my Twitter and Facebook pages, and really interesting to see the votes roll in for the Summer Reads Poll.

Following your comments and votes I have now closed the poll and can confirm that joint winners were The Radleys by Matt Haig and A Visit from The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (full poll results). This being the case I am making The Radleys my book of the month, and look forward to sharing my thoughts with all of you that follow along. I’ll save A Visit from The Goon Squad for next month as my ‘to be read’ pile is already teetering dangerously next to my bed.

There are a couple of books from last month's plan that I'm still working on; God Collar, which I’m midway through, and Room at the Top, which I’d forgotten about altogether. I’ll try to get both polished off before they slip from my memory altogether.

Following a good bookshop browsing session I came across Constance: the tragic and scandalous life of Mrs Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle, which looks like a fascinating biography of Oscar Wilde’s wife. I’m hoping this will provide a fresh perspective on Oscar’s life and the ripple effect that his downfall had on those around him, not to mention a good chance to study Constance, who was a nineteenth century celebrity in her own right.

After one of my fellow pseudo-literatis pointed me in the direction of an article in the Guradian discussing authors who were famous for the wrong book, I was surprised to note that one of the targets was Kazuo Ishiguro who ought to be famous, the article’s author claimed, for The Unconsoled, rather than The Remains of the Day. Although I’m not sure I agreed with the tone of the article it raised many interesting discussions and as a follow up I’d like to return to The Unconsoled with fresh eyes.

Oh and for those that are wondering, I'm giving myself a month off before rounding off the Gormenghast trilogy with Titus Alone.

Posts from July 2011
Review: The Rules of Wealth by Richard Templar
Review: The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
Review: London Fields by Martin Amis

4 comments:

I heard a little of Franny Moyle's "Constance" on Radio 4 (Book of the Week/Woman's Hour?) and it was very interesting - although that may have something to do with radio. Would be interested to know what you think of it, especially as I only heard a twenty-minute excerpt.
Also, any thoughts on "The Unconsoled" are welcomed, as I'm not sure I ever got my head around it...
Enjoy your busy reading schedule!

I'll let you know (electronically or straight into your ears one lunch time) once I get through it. I've just realised how bloomin' enormous it is though, so it might be some while.

On The Unconsoled, what did you think? I read one commentary that suggested it was an attempt by cuddly, old Kazuo to ingratiate himself with the cool post-structuralists and be a bit edgy. I've also read plenty that suggest it's unreadable, pretentious rubbish. On the other hand, John Self likes it, and he has a good name so we should probably just listen to him.

For anyone who isn't me or Kim (colesk) why not check out her blog, what harm could it do? http://postgradpanopticon.wordpress.com/

I liked "The Unconsoled", although sometimes I did find it a struggle. I think referring to Ishiguro as "cuddly" demeans him rather, it's different in structure but definitely felt like his writing. Once I realised that there wasn't a plot to speak of, I really got into the way it was constructed and I can't say I was ever disappointed. I can only imagine it would have been a nightmare to write, and takes some serious courage to be so surreal and unexplained.
But then, I do quite like books where nothing happens...

And thanks for the advertisement - now I feel under pressure to say something intellectual every so often!

I suspect any demeaning was done in the translation rather than the original sentiment, although who wouldn't want to be cuddly? I have a feeling I'm probably going to enjoy it, although if it's Murakami-bonkers I might not make it through.

You're always saying intelligent stuff, like Why don't we install tamprolines in the library? or Pegasus was just a spunky pervert really. - If that's not advert enough for your blog then I don't know what is!