Saturday, 22 November 2008

Recent reads

Caught up with a bit of reading recently, particularly during the holiday in Queensland (distant memory that it is). Was keen to get between the covers of the Legend Press titles I bought a few months back. I won't rabbit on about all of them here -- not today -- but must say I enjoyed many of the short stories in The Remarkable Everyday and Seven Days (and will be looking forward to opening Legend's other collection of shorts, Eight Hours, before long). It's good to see a publisher invest in this sort of anthology and I'm never quite sure why so many are reluctant to. To my mind, it can be a tremendously gratifying form and a well-written short story can have as much impact on a reader as a novel. It certainly ain't all about size.

Luke Bitmead's White Summer also hit the right nerve with me. Particularly enjoyed the humour and the voice he created here. A very entertaining yarn (which is, first and foremost, what every novel should aim to achieve) with the added bonus of being set in a locality I once knew.

And I'm just a few pages away from finishing Kathryn Harrison's Envy (Fourth Estate). This is a very sharp piece of writing about sexual betrayal from a haunted/disturbed psychoanalyst's point of view. Whilst the writing can seem introspective at times, this introspection is a significant aspect of Will Moreland's story, and Kathryn Harrison has me convinced that she must have trained in psychoanalysis too, such is the credibility of this aspect of her writing. There are twists and surprises enough in Envy to keep the story moving at a compelling pace, and I'll be looking out for her other titles.


Mike French said...

I bet the pile of unread books doesn't look any smaller though Paul!

gary davison said...

And I too must stop reading posts about books! You lead me astray, Paul. Halfway through White Summer, and yes, you know me too well, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Great humour. Some how, even though you've heard many of the sayings and catch phrases before, he seems to make it fit effortlesly and it sounds right. It's had me laughing and it's one of those books that rarely come along that you have trouble putting down.

I'll add the others mentioned the huge list I've got going on.

Paul said...

You're right there, Mike. And I'm just about to order a few more (Julian Barnes, Tom McCarthy, Paul Torday et al).

Glad you're enjoying White Summer, Gary. Making 'it fit effortlessly' and sounding right is a good way of describing it.

We'll need to become steeplejacks soon before we can start on these growing stacks of books.

Stella said...

It is strange that short stories wouldn't be more popular today given that people's attention spans are supposed to be so short. I guess that whole theory needs to be rethinked.

The irony is that when a short story is really good - you wish it was longer. (I do, anyway...)

Paul said...

Exactly, Stella. It's all very paradoxical. I think this is why I'm a fan of Raymond Carver and Richard Ford's short stories: they pack so much into a small suitcase.