Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Recent reads

The summer holiday was a good time to catch up with a bit of reading, although I tend to select what I'm reading with a mind to where I'm up to with my own writing. I don't want to read anything that might have a similar storyline or approach to the one I'm pursuing, but I do want to be inspired by the way an author tackles their material or uses language -- I want to be challenged by the quality of what I read.

With this is mind, I'd been looking forward to tackling three titles in particular:
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Picador)
  • A Child's Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper (Vintage)
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage)
The opening pages to each of these novels are stunning and immediately hooked me. Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, in giving the narration to a murdered 14 year old girl as she looks from heaven at the effect her murder has on family and friends, has to be one of the most original pieces of writing I've read in a long while. It's a bizarre premise that works from beginning to end. It's an unsettling story at times, but in the best possible way.

Although I think I might have missed one or two of the connections in A Child's Book of True Crime (there seemed to be assumptions made by Kate Byrne, the adulterous narrator and teacher of her lover's son, which left me a little lost on several occasions), again I loved the premise behind the story, as well as the way Chloe Hooper structured it and the way she used language. There was a sparseness about it that I enjoyed, although -- quite contrarily -- I'd have liked some scenes to be more drawn-out.

It was only when I was scanning the front cover of The Time Traveler's Wife a few minutes ago that I noticed the line from the Evening Standard: 'Here's the next The Lovely Bones...' Now, there's a coincidence. I haven't finished this book yet, but I'm finding it difficult to put down. The storyline has gripped me; the characters intrigue me. Audrey Niffenegger's website seems to be under construction (since 2004 by the looks of the copyright notice?), but I've linked to it anyway.

Three bizarre, off-beat tales, with wonderful prose. Lovely stuff.


gary davison said...

I haven't read the other two, Paul, but i loved, if you pardon the pun,The Lovely Bones. Fantastic book.

Novice Writer said...

I haven't read any of these, but I think I will read 'Lovely Bones'. Thanks for the post!

Paul said...

Gary, while I wouldn't recommend you read True Crime, I think you might enjoy Time Traveler's Wife, even though, at 518 pages, it's a tad longer than you prefer. It's well-paced with solid characters.

Hi NW, it's great to see you back again. I enjoyed your review of Twilight. I think you'll enjoy Lovely Bones.

Jane Turley said...

The Time Traveller's wife has been sitting on my shelf waiting to read for yonks...

I definately want to read Lovely Bones though; I've heard about that one before and it sounds most intriguing.

The other one sounds like it's got the wrong title...makes it sound non fiction. A tad off putting. (You know how I am about titles.)