Saturday, 1 October 2011

I've started so I'll finish - maybe

I often put books down and don't go back to them for weeks or months. Unless I utterly love what I am reading. I loved Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman, although it's almost entirely lacking in lightness. A horribly sad story - based on real life - and I liked it because the characters are  flawed, and the writing meticulous. I did find it hard to read as a novel though, I read it more as a (fictionalised) memoir, though if the author says it is a novel, then a novel it is. I quite liked Tea on the Blue Sofa by Natasha Illum Berg. It's very slim and I chose it because of its name. The writing can be clunky - and at times indulgent - but there are beautiful moments and the background is startling (which I knew nothing of until after I'd read the book). Also based on a true story of losing the love of one's life, but her lover is not presented as flawed, instead impossibly idealised. I returned this book to the library recently, it's like the airport now, all automated and scanned. I've just gone back to The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. This book reminds me of my wee aunt because I got it when I was up north seeing her at the beginning of the year. I enjoy the writing but it's very detailed so a little goes a long way. The other night, I opened at the bookmark and read the line: Ignace was the second richest banker in Vienna, owning another huge building on the Ringstrasse and a block of buildings for the bank. I thought who the hell is Ignace, I'd completely forgotten. I had to go back to the family tree and remind myself, but the essence of the characters had gone and it took me a while to get back in. I will definitely finish this book though because the writing  is so good and I knew nothing of netsuke before this. But gone are the days when I would force myself through a book out of a sense of duty or discipline.


Anonymous said...

I read loads of books at the same time, picking them up and putting them down over weeks.

I read "The Long Night of White Chickens" by Francisco Goldman years ago, I loved it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I really want to read The Hare with Amber Eyes, I've always been fascinated by netsuke, there's a really good collection of them in the Chambers St Museum or there used to be anyway, before it was refurbished.

I always have 3 books on the go, one novel, one non-fiction and one poetry. But I just stick with one novel until I've finished it or given up on it. I'm much more inclined to give up on a book now than i used to be.

nmj said...

Hey Z, I would def read more Francisco Goldman. Glad to hear you have lots of books on the go at once, though I'm sure you finish many more than me!

Hey CGP, I would love to see this netsuke collection, I wonder if it is at the 'new' museum. THWAE is probably more about the people who owned the netsuke, but still fascinating - though they are extremely rich and privileged people, but dealing with anti-Semitism.

I used to have to read novels I didn't necessarily like at uni, so maybe that is why it is so liberating now to simply stop if I do not find the book compelling enough. Though it's prob only last ten years that I have allowed myself this luxury, I still used to force myself to finish, so silly when you think about it. My concentration is also not great since I got ill and that may be part of it.

Amy said...

After reading your post I just looked up The Hare with Amber Eyes. It looks fascinating, and cheap on kindle so have taken a gamble and bought it.

Thanks for the tip! Only trouble is I am accumulating unread books on my kindle as too ill to read much at the moment. But it'll be there, to look forward to.