The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Pootering before Christmas

Posted on: December 23, 2006

Lest I fail in fulfilling my role of literary pooter, Charlotte inspired me to do another list of sorts. Mine will be of Authors I Really Want to Read in 2007 But Don’t Hold Me To It Because I will Inevitably Be Distracted by Some Other Shiny Author. (In an effort not to be redundant I listed authors I have rarely or never mentioned here before.)

Jamaican Authors

Marlon James

Starting Book: John Crow’s Devil

Sing praises! The paperback version of John Crow’s Devil will be released in July 2007. If my heavy hints do not result in the hardcover version appearing under my tree on Monday, I may give in and get it before Geoffrey Philp’s wrote that it was worth it and he did lead me to Roger Mais.

Andrew Salkey

Starting Book: A Quality of Violence or Anancy’s Score

It turns out that he was born in Panama, but of Jamaican parentage and was raised in Jamaica. *Like all other Jamaican authors (and Caribbean) he migrated elsewhere (London then to the US, it seems). Ideally I’d like to start with Quality but I would have to order it–Anancy is right there on the library shelves.

Claude McKay

Starting Book: Banana Bottom

I was browsing through the catalogue of Serpent’s Tail when I spied his book. His name sounds vaguely familiar and it is likely that I read a few of his poems in school. He is more well-known as a poet but, as previously said, I am interested in Jamaican novels as it was the only native literary art form that was neglected in my schools’ curriculum.

By the by, do check out the Serpent’s Tail website: it has an eclectic catalogue and offers free postage and shipping worldwide. This may offset the currency conversion issue for most.

Nalo Hopkinson

Starting Book: Brown Girl in the Ring

Technically I was at one point aware of Hopkinson. The very loud cover of The Salt Roads shouted at me during a regular Chapters visit but the prominent slavery outline turned me off. (It is an issue I’ll have to deal with at some point but I avoid novels set in the Atlantic slave trade period.) I do n t think it even registered at the time that Hopkinson was Jamaican (which may have been enough to get me to buy it, period, because omg a Jamaican author with her book set facing out in a chain store).

Philp’s came to my rescue again, using her **birthday to highlight her work. My eyes zoomed in on the “science fiction and fantasy” description of her novels. Really? A Jamaican author doing ***sci fi and fantasy? No. Way. As it turns out, yes. Way. Brown Girl in the Ring is true blue sci fi/fantasy fare too with zombies. ZOMBIES! I didn’t even know I liked zombies until I learnt a Jamaican was writing a book with them. So that one’s in the shopping cart and, if I like it, Midnight Robber will join it on the bookshelf.

European Authors

Angela Carter

Starting Book: I can’t decide. Most of them look so good.

She is apparently big in England, and perhaps here too but I had not heard of her until a fellow member on a messageboard recommended her. Most of her novels sound perfectly weird and fantastical.

Anna Banti

Starting Book: Artemisia

This was another Serpent’s Tail find. The powerful cover alone was enough to half-convince me it would be worth my time. The plot centering on a female 17th century painter did the rest. I don’t read a lot of novels that address visual art so directly. You should read Honore de Balzac’s The Unknown Masterpiece (NYRB classics) for two excellent explorations of art and music.

Patrick Hamilton

Starting Book: The Slaves of Solitude

A Different Stripe first brought Hamilton to my attention but it was Isabella‘s enthusiastic recommendation that solidified its place on my list. It was her “Why the fuck have I never heard of this book before?!” of the year.

So this was the treasure I took home with me, and I am wowed like I do not remember having ever been previously wowed, every page being quotable, and clever almost funny (in a dark way); I’m finding it achingly bleak and beautiful, somehow true. But achingly. So sad, these slaves.

(Magnificent Octopus, Isabella’s blog, is another Metaxucafe find.)

Ford Madox Ford

Starting Book: The Good Solider

I only learnt of this novel last night. I started Firmin’ last night in which the narrator quoted Soldier’s first line: This is the saddest story I have ever heard. I had to agree–that was one heck of an opening. The more I read on the novel the stronger my yearning grew.

American Authors

Kurt Vonnegut

Starting Book: Cat’s Cradle

It seems as if I have been hearing about Vonnegut since I came to Canada. It was Moby Lives I miss you!) and Vonnegut’s appearance on The Daily Show (ha) that lodged him on my mental list of authors.

Cormac McCarthy

Starting Book: Blood Meridian

I am primarily interested in this book because, after finishing The Hills Were Joyful Together, I wanted to read a violent novel, one that placed it a new setting, context and with a different sensibility. I thought that a western might fit the bill and by all accounts Blood Meridian is bloody enough.

This is not the entire list by any means, but I do not want to bore. I may do a part two, I probably won’t.

*Their homelands were not very supportive of their artistic endeavours and that is still the norm, unfortunately. 

**This is a feature he does and works very well at highlighting authors I do not know.

**“Salt Roads” didn’t strike me as a strictly fantasy work. I’m pretty sure it was shelved under “General Fiction”.

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8 Responses to "Pootering before Christmas"

I sometimes think the same as Isabella when I find something outstanding that everyone else seems to have ignored or passed by in favour of the latest piece of commercial tripe. How come?!

Yes, or occasionally the opposite, when I wonder how I managed to live without reading a certain author’s work. In your case I just try to recommend to as many people as possible. Sometimes if I order a book through the local independent, if the owner likes it, he ends up adding it to its stock. That gives me a little thrill.

i think angela carter is amazing and nominate ‘nights at the circus’ as a possible starter. in an interview i read with her just before she died, she recommended one of her favorites: christina stead, who i think is incredible–and here i think maybe ‘salzburg tales’ to start?….

I LOVE Angela Carter. My favorite was the Magic Toyshop. Gothic and beautiful. Wise Children is a clos second!

Lotus thanks for the recommendations, particularly the Christina Stead! Funnily enough I had taken a look at “Letty Fox” when browsing through the NYRB classics and, while it caught my eye and I liked the excerpt, somehow it got passed over for something else. I shall have to pick it up now.

Amanda I really, really dig your reading tastes. First Warner and now Carter! I definitely will read “Magic Toyshop” as it seems to be one of her most respected works.

i never read letty fox–maybe i’ll read it too and we can compare notes….

That sounds like a great idea lotus. 🙂

[…] I did not keep to all my reading goals of last year, but I didn’t do too badly with the one I came up with on my […]

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