Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Books, dark books and books that might just go bump in the night...

 Goodness, but I am not doing well with my 52 Books in a Year! For all that I think myself a connoisseur of Literature, and yes, I am enough of that book snob to give it a capital letter, and yes, I could bore the hand-knit socks from your very feet with my definition thereof, I remain nonetheless utterly hopeless at choosing books to read.

 To get over a spate of thoroughly depressing books over the summer, I went back to books I'd read long ago and loved. I turn out also to be utterly hopeless at remembering anything about books that I have apparently read long ago and loved! I remembered absolutely nothing about the whole middle of Divorcing Jack and only began to catch glimmers of plot on the Bangor dual-carriageway with a car behind firing bullets. I must get myself to reading more recent Bateman. I don't think we'd laugh so ironically at bullets on main roads anymore. Not now that we have The Peace...

There is a nice little link methinks between Jack and Senor Quixote. It lies with our school librarian who is quite simply the most amazing school librarian I have ever come across. On my very first day, which was just over one year ago, I was sitting waiting for guidance on one of the nice leather sofas in Reception when in came a very plainly dressed, most unprepossessing man with a heavy cardboard box. He looked around for some guidance, got none from anyone as it was 9am in the main office of a very busy school, and looked round at the small woman on one of the nice leather sofas who was smiling inanely at him, stammering silently, "It's Colin Bateman. It's Colin Bateman!" He smiled too and disappeared in search of The Most Amazing School Librarian who had invited him in to do a reading from one of his teenage novels. Thus the heavy box of books. (I have now set eye on Bateman twice- pathetic claim to fame.)

This most amazing librarian also has shelves and shelves and shelves of books for staff. She will happily wave you off with the book you're just grabbing quickly, and be delighted to see it read. She has a whole shelf of Graham Greene. Since I have worked in four schools without ever properly utilising the libraries therein, I am now drinking deep.

Monsignor Quixote is one of the Greene on the MAL's shelves. I have definitely read this one before. I have quotes from it written out in the book I keep for such a purpose. Yet again it was all new, all freshly poignant, all freshly scathing, all freshly beautiful and satirically fine. I did also read Don Quixote a long while ago, after many months of effort, and I was glad that enough of it remained to enjoy the parallels between the old unlikely adventurer and the new.  I think that this or Travels with my Aunt would be a good introduction to Greene.



Thus introduced I thought I would work along the shelf to Brighton Rock. Dark. Work in progress. Birdsong I bought at Gatwick on the way home from London at the start of the month. Appalling in its beauty. Work in progress. A colleague lent me Judith Hearne after a most gorgeous lunchtime savour of books we knew and loved. But we know by now that I can know a book, have read a book, and remember nothing about it! So I have borrowed Judith to see what became of her all over again. It will be dark and appalling. Work in progress...


 You would think that I would be running back to Cold Comfort Farm by now. So I should be, but its location has been moved and I can't find it and I am most distressed. And anyway, it being the week that this is, I finally got around to ordering A. S. Byatt's Little Black Book of Stories. I don't know if I've told you that A. S. Byatt is one of my most most most admired writers? But I am not at all brave with scary things, so I am reading this in small doses of broad daylight, and finally remembering what it is that I love in Literature. I love the fact that you reread whole pages not just because you're loving the story, but because you are so in awe of the writing itself. What the two girls saw in the woodshed forest pales, nearly, in the glow of the prose.

The only other two spooky books that I've read are The Small Hand and The Bookshop. The first did actually scare me. A lot. I had to stop reading it in bed. A few Hallowe'ens ago I wrote about The Bookshop here. This did also scare me, or at least the civilised cruelty of the characters scared me, but like The Black Book the prose eclipses even the gripping narrative.

My my, if you are still here, forgive my lengthy ramblings! I am in a forest myself of late. A forest of busy daily grind, and this glorious week with its pale skies and pared back nature breathes a clearing where I can sit on a log and look on The Worm's trail of destruction for all it is.

7 comments:

Kezzie said...

All sound intriguing! I like recommendations!x

Lisa Richards said...

I'm not so much into scary things. My dreams are weird enough, thank you very much! :D
Glad you're enjoying your reading. I have the same problem with reading something I like and still not remembering much about it later. Leave a light on! :)

Jane and Chris said...

Birdsong I read...Susan Hill I like (she went to the rival girls' grammar school of the one I went to)...would I like a scary book of hers? Not if the wolves are howling!!
Jane x

GretchenJoanna said...

I am in awe, Mags, of your reading energy! I haven't read any Greene, which is embarrassing...maybe I should find something at our library's used bookstore, so that I can mark it up. (Do you have a deadline for returning books to those generous shelves now at your disposal?) Thank you for your recommendations for a intro to this author.

M.K. said...

Isn't sinking into a beloved book such a comfort amid the frettings of life? I love Greene's "The Power and the Glory" and have read it several times. I think ... not quite sure ... that he wrote the screenplay (or something) for the movie "The Third Man," which is very good.

I'm having a slow day, much needed. My brain is tired and fuzzy.

Fat Dormouse said...

Have you read Sally Vicker's "Mr GoLightly's Holiday"? I found it an intruiging book.

GretchenJoanna said...

I discovered that I have Greene's The Power and the Glory right here in the house - do you think it would be smart to start with that one? And I haven't read any Byatt, but I don't want to read scary stories, so how about a suggestion for what to start with that is not that?