Had a good run of books recently. Pleasurable reads. Sometimes nothing seems to satisfy, but then several good reads in a row come along. This run began with Jae Watson's Journey (Legend Press). Put if off for a while because I didn't like the cover, but once I opened it the quality narrative hooked me quickly and I loved the descriptions of Marianne and Sara's journey through India. I found the characters interesting, which they've got to be if you're going to tag along on this sort of journey with them, and I admire the way Jae Watson handled the mystery of Sara's death, dropping some tremendous surprises along the way. 'Following the break-up of her relationship and unsure of her life's direction, Marianne leaves a London still reverberating from the terrorist bombings to travel for a year with the mysterious and beautiful Sara...'
Next came Streakers (PaperBooks), Gary Davison's second novel. This is a fun read from start to finish, and I got the sense that he had a great time writing it. It comes through every page, which makes it a page-turner! Having had a chat with Gary about this (and who's currently running a short story competition over at his website), I have to agree that it would make a great film: very visual and vibrant - a book bursting with antics and energy. It put me in mind of The Full Monty, even though the storyline is nothing alike; possibly because it shares the same gritty, irreverent humour and is a celebration of determination against all odds. 'Faccome FC are playing at home when the crowd erupts and a masked streaker sprints across the pitch...'
Alternated reading Streakers with Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange (Penguin). This is one book I've been meaning to read for years and years. Have seen Stanley Kubrick's movie, but somehow failed to get round to the book... until now. The Penguin plain cover branding - reminiscent of Penguin's covers from the 1960s - is probably one reason I finally picked it up: great cover, great novel. 'Fifteen-year-old Alex and his thrill-seeking gang regularly indulge in ultra-violence, rape and drugs...' (Found Blake Morrison's introduction good value too.)
Number four was a re-read: William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow (Panther). I first read this in 2000, and the narrative style made a big impression on me at the time - sparse, slightly distant. Wanted to get the feel of that again. Wasn't quite so strong this time for me, perhaps because I was expecting it, but still a beautifully written book: 'A murder in rural Illinois shatters the tenuous friendship between two lonely boys...'