Sunday, 16 September 2007

Recent Reads

Have just about managed to get to the bottom of the pile of books I've been wanting to read or needing to read for a while. Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright kept getting pushed to the bottom of that pile, simply because other priorities took over, but I've finally made a start on this. William Blake apparently features in this story, which has made it something to look forward to because I've always been a fan of Blake. However, how it stacks up against Girl with a Pearl Earring will be interesting. It must be a tad nerve-wracking writing the next book after one has been so successful. No wonder Harper Lee decided to leave well alone after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Revisited Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut Jnr and still rate it as an all-time favourite. But also had a look at three Australian titles in the hope I could find one for a Literature booklist.BYPASS The Story of a Road by Michael McGirr is a delightful, humorous non-fiction account of the Hume Highway, which stretches from Melbourne to Sydney (or Sydney to Melbourne, depending which state you're from). It's a travelogue in a sense and put me in mind of Bill Bryson---but grittier. I'm not Bypass sure why it matters that Michael McGirr is an ex-Jesuit, but he mentions it himself and so does everyone else when they talk about this book, so I mention it too. I suppose this piece of information adds to our understanding of the man who's undertaking this journey and the stories that he uncovers and relates along the way. It's a nice touch citing bumper sticker slogans as epigraphs, and I found myself flicking through the book to read all of these in one go. (For instance: 'Your Carma Just Ran Over My Dogma'; 'The Older I Get, The Better I Was'; 'This Is No Time For The Present'.) Haven't finished Bypass yet, having decided it's not for The List but will keep it on hand as something to dip into and enjoy between other books.

The_rose_notesI probably wasn't in the right frame of mind for picking up The Rose Notes by Andrea Mayes, and gave it a couple of sessions but then gave up. Didn't feel like persevering. Found the narrator's voice a little too measured and old and intrusive, but I wasn't feeling patient at the time so may well have misjudged it. (Gave the book to someone else and they enjoyed it!)

The absolute gem of these three, however, and the book that I knew was going to be on my list before I'd read 20 pages is The Patron Saint of EelsThe_patron_saint_of_eels quote the blurb, Noel Lea 'longs for a time when life was less complex and unexpected magic seemed to permeate the ocean town and its people. When spring rains flood a nearby swamp and hundreds of eels get trapped in the grassy ditches ... he and (oldest friend) Nanette encounter the vibrant Fra Ionio and get more magic than they bargained for.' It's certainly a magical tale. by Gregory Day. Every once in a while there's a book that's worth giving up sleep for, that leaves you itching to carry on reading and that you know you're going to want to come back to read a second time at least, and this was one of them. To And with that, back to the editing.

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