Currently Reading…

I have never understood cheating and have always applauded monogamy. One at a time I say; unless of course he has a brother or is a member of a team.

This one-on-one habit also extends to my reading. Not for me the Sam Kelly approach of a different book for a different room or mode of transport, although I am impressed by her stamina and ability to remember everyone’s name.

Since starting my MA, I have read far less than usual, a condition I attribute to being overwhelmed by the realisation of just how much I still have to read and discover. I did not know of David Foster Wallace or Roberto Bolaño; I presumed Italo Calvino was best served with a glass of Amarone and although I don’t think I will ever allow China Mièville to get past first base with me, I will French both Neil Gaiman and Cormac McCarthy without insisting on dinner and drinks first.

But I believe you can’t really know what you like unless you try something else to give comparison. Having absolute trust in Sam with all things literary, I decided about two months ago to give serial reading a chance. I chose my partners with care and consideration –

The Usual Rivals

At the time, I was trying to focus on short stories, and I love Murakami so much I decided to add a novel to the mix for pure spice. There were a few others who refused to be photographed including David Shield’s Reality Hunger, and James Joyce’s Ulyseuss.

As an experiment, serial reading was a total disaster. I like to climb into a book and become part of the backdrop. I want to know each contour and disciple-like, I like to honour the words and the story with my fullest attention. I simply couldn’t commit to Qfwfq even when I was very clear with the rest of them that Qf-iffy had the bedtime reading slot. I also found there may be a few days between putting down and picking up each book and as a result, couldn’t always remember where I was in the story – it was being diluted by the time lag and everything else I was reading at the same time. I would open each book at the bookmark, and  realise I needed to go back a few paragraphs or chapters to re-familiarise myself with the story.

Last Thursday was the first day of the second year of the course and my to-read pile has swelled to even greater heights, and to make things more complicated, most of the new additions come with deadlines. I am desperate to start the second part of 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, but the powers that be dictate I must first finish Joseph Knight by James Robertson (no great hardship); Drifnet by Lin Anderson; The Speakers by Heathcote Williams, a book that Sam and Stuart described so well that I wanted it immediately; Roofworld by Christopher Fowler as I finally managed to track down a copy; Behindlings by Nicola Barker and Infinite Jest by the uber-talented David Foster Wallace. Oh – and I want to read The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson and C by Tom McCarthy, which I borrowed from the writers room today. Because what I need is more books starting at me from the shelf where they all sit jostling for attention. Monogamy is exhausting!

There is a wise and slim-thighed youth who advocates a minimum of two hours a day to consume the words one ought to be consuming, and I try to live up to that expectation at least. I will let you know how I get on.

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2 thoughts on “Currently Reading…

  1. With the two-hour technique, the best books make you want to break that barrier and go on and on and on. To neglect everyone around you. To be so immersed in their beauty, you forget you just married Jamie Cullum. It also means for habitual finishers like me, it guarantees reaching an end. At some stage. Some books never seem to end.

    (PS: Behindlings & C are pants and will suck much time! Heed the words of the slim-thighed one!)

    1. I just want to read 2666! But I shall heed yer words and put the two that you decree to the bottom of the pile. Gagging at the troll reference. *boak*

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