New year ramblings
Posted January 2, 2008on:
My blogging has gotten off to a bracing start in 2008. In last year’s closing reading weeks I went through a heightened novel reading spurt in an effort to end the year as well as remembered previous ones. (Kafka on the Shore by Murakami Haruki ended 2005, Brother Man by Roger Mais, 2006.) In those years I hadn’t been trying, and succeeded, for 2007, not so much. I nearly made it with Derek McCormack’s Grab Bag: 2 stories as it was amusing, disturbing, poignant, stylistically engaging and just a treat. I mean to reread Dark Rides, a novel that takes up the first half, because his short, full-length fiction beg me to do so as soon as I finish. (I reread The Haunted Hillbilly too.) What he doesn’t pinpoint in his very concise sentences evince a strong presence that I don’t always pay close attention to, or I don’t allow myself to linger long enough in those silent spots; and since the book’s so short it’s not a problem.
Then I picked up Murakami’s After Dark with the idea hanging at the back of my mind that it wasn’t going to be a stunner but I hoped to be proved wrong. I wasn’t. It has its interesting, signature Murakami moments but I’d never felt so offended by jacket copy hyperbole before: a fiction as important/momentous as The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, my arse.
I ended up ringing in the new year with Don Quixote. Yes, I’m back to that (again) and within spitting distance of page 600. It helps that things are much less repetitive, although I’m not that far into the second part to confidently type that. We’ll see.
I’m still pissed about my stolen A House and Its Head. These Christmas gifts sort of made up for it. 😛
- The Complete Stories – Franz Kafka
- A Choice of Shakespeare’s Verse – Ted Hughes
- Vilette – Charlotte Brontë
- The Secret – Charlotte Brontë (my first Hesperus)
- Warlock – Oakley Hall
- Strawberry Fields – Marina Lewcyka
- Baltimore: Or the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire – Mike Mignola
- My Swordhand is Singing – Marcus Sedgwick
Naturally, 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 own.
- Marlon James
- Nalo Hopkinson
- Angela Carter
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Patrick Hamilton
- Cormac McCarthy
Hopkinson could sort of count if I included the postcolonial SF/F anthology she edited…. I had a go at a Vonnegut, Slaughter-house Five, but did not make it past the second page. Unlike the aborted attempt with Hopkinson’s novel, I doubt that there will ever be a right time for me and Mr. V. I nearly picked up Blood Meridian this morning, but passed it over for Paulina 1880 by Pierre Jean Jouve.
I did no better with the Underrated Writers of 2006 pickings hosted by Syntax of Things. I’m rather glad they didn’t do one for 2007 — I may keep to my old list and try to chip away at it. Makes no sense to list them out here since I only managed to get to Brian Evenson. I’m still in the middle of the latest from VanderMeer.
Happy New Year. May it turn out to be a thousand times better than minor, ho hum, perilously close to boring works from major novelists who allegedly wrote one of my absolute favourite books.