When I came back from my trip yesterday I got very excited as I received a parcel with Vintage
stamped all over it. Now it shows how tired I must have been that I didn’t tear it open instantly. However I decide it would be much nicer to open today and also had done my daily blog and wouldn’t have one to write today and I have promised to write daily from now on. I opened it a while ago and look at what I had been sent.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
This bodes well for my reading of classics this year. I have never read any Oscar Wilde, though I did read Will Self’s version ‘Dorian’ a few years ago, so to finally have this to add on to my TBR was a real joy. I have heard this is a really dark tale and I know that the movie is coming out in November this year so must read it before then. Also isn’t the cover absolutely gorgeous, very decadent and Victorian, love it.
In Search of the Missing Eyelash – Karen McLeod
I saw Karen read Julia Darling’s ‘Crocodile Soup’ at the Lavender Library which took place at the Southbank last year and thought she was absolutely fabulous. She is also doing a reading at Polari this month so I am thrilled that this has arrived. It sounds like it is going to be hilarious, a tale of obsession and stalking. I have decided that as I am at the end of Part One of Anna Karenina I shall read this before I start Part Two to give me a little break. I might do that after every part actually as I have never managed to read more than one fiction book at a time so it might give it a try and see how it goes.
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
This has only come to my attention in probably the last three or four months as all the book shops are really pushing his whole set of works. Obviously the film is coming out in the next few months which leads me to my only small gripe… they sent me the film tie-in copy and not the delicious Vintage edition. However as film covers go this isn’t a bad one at all. The story of a married couple in suburban America who aspire for greatness and in trying to achieve it obliterate everything, sounds unusual, have seen lots of people on the tube with this.
A great selection of books to head to the top of the never ending TBR.
First of all Happy New Year!
It’s that time where we both look forward and look back and stock take isn’t it? At the beginning of last year when I start the blog properly one of the internal resolutions that I made in myself was to keep the blog up and not let it run dry. I didn’t do as well at that as I thought I would, I mean I reviewed every book I read but the blogs I had intended to write like ‘why I am obsessed with what everyone else reads on the tube’ and many more never got written but hopefully they will in 2009, I definitely improved toward the end of the year though! I also made some other resolutions on here…
The ones that sadly I failed at were;
– Read a Jodi Piccoult, I have always had something against her books and have absolutely no rational for this, 2008 wasn’t the year that I broke that habit
– The Odyssey, my mum would have been so proud if I had… but nope
– Read harder fiction, well am gunning through Anna Karenina at the moment and Will Self’s ‘The Book of Dave’ wasn’t easy but was extremely rewarding
– Hardy and Trollope, double no
– Revisit old favourites; nope sadly I was focused on getting through my huge TBR
– Give some books a second chance, no I wanted to have a second slog at Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ but I simply didn’t.
The ones I managed were;
– Read more short stories, I read two collections, maybe three but would have liked to read more
– Read a James Bond
– Read Tess Gerritsen, well I definitely did that actually becoming a big fan, managed to save some for this year though
– Read more non fiction, well with the Mitford Letters, a book on ghost hunting and the fabulous Kate Summerscale I did just that
So what about for 2009? What book resolutions have I got this year? Do I want to take any over that I didn’t manage this year? Well the ones I am setting myself this year are;
– Find a new favourite author I haven’t read before but can’t get enough of
– Classics, I want to read a lot more classics both classic classics and modern classics if that makes sense
– Try stuff I wouldn’t normally, this means joining some more book groups me thinks
– The Man Booker-a-thon, I would really like to give this a go this year especially now I know more publishers
– Possibly re-try a few books like ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ and ‘Company of Liars’ the latter I really wanted to read but it didn’t grab the mood I was in, oh and Kate Atkinson’s ‘Behind The Museum
– Not buy as many books; I think this one is unlikely.
I think that’s enough? Is anyone else making any book resolutions this year?
I am always a bit fuzzy on the rules with the Man Booker Award and which writers are and arent allowed, I know I should hang my head in shame as an avid reader. Its not like I am ever going to judge them though is it? Mind you wouldn’t that be brilliant? The Longlist is revealed tomorrow and I thought I would have a very uneducated guess at what might be in the final thirteen.
So here are my Man Booker Dozen for you (based on what everyone else is raving about I havent read and some rogue contenders I doubt will be in the longlist but should be)…
1. The Behaviour of Moths – Poppy Adams
2. Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie
3. The Room of Lost Things – Stella Duffy
4. The Story Of Forgetting – Stefan Merrill Block
5. The Outcast – Sadie Jones
6. Alfred & Emily – Doris Lessing
7. The Spare Room – Helen Garner
8. Broken – Daniel Clay
9. A Case of Exploding Mango’s – Mohammed Hanif
10. Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
11. The Butt – Will Self
12. Girl Meets Boy – Ali Smith
13. Remember Me – Melvyn Bragg
We will see tomorrow… I will be discussing I am sure.
I was bought ‘The Book of Dave’ by my friend Michelle as we had a bit of an in joke on all things ‘Dave’ related. When it came to my shortlist of five books for book group I decided to add this one on as I could imagine that Will Self would be a perfect author for book group and this book in particular seemed to be something very different from what we have read up to now. It was chosen.
Will Self is an author that is a bit hit and miss with people, people either love his quirky tales and devour him or people are put off by the fact that he can come across as being too clever or pompous he can also be seen as being dark and this book is quite bleak, well very bleak, but he is an author that if you work at reading you will get so much out of. ‘The Book of Dave’ is set in the recent past and the distant future. The recent past tells the tale of Dave Rudman a London taxi driver and the lead up to his marriage and then onto its break up, a break up that affects him so much he writes a book to his estranged son. A book that is discovered in the distant future and spawned a major religion, in fact everyone lives by ‘The Book of Dave’ or else. Self uses this present to show us just what could happen in the future, and it’s not the prettiest of pictures.
This is by no means a quick or easy read. Firstly Dave is not instantly a hero or a likeable chap, he is normal, extremely flawed and at first I just thought he was a waste of space, my opinion did change as his character did. The alternating chapters between the future and the recent past are made more complicated by two things, firstly is the fact that they are not in chronological order, secondly you need to learn some Mokni. Self has done something which I was originally annoyed by slightly, the lazy reader in me, and then very impressed by… he has created his own future version of cockney based not on rhyming slang but on phonetics. I should add that there is a glossary in the back of the book that helps you, though a note in the front to tell you that would be helpful as I know that lots of people put the book down after finding the Mokni a challenge and not knowing the glossary is there.
The fact that it’s not in chronological order is slightly confusing but many writers use this style in order that by the end everything slots into place and with this book it does, and it has some very clever twists. My only slight problem was all the same names in the distant future, I got totally confused a few times, however with perseverance I was fine in the end. People will either love this book or they will hate it, it’s not for everyone. However if you persevere it’s a very clever story from a very clever author and one that I would recommend as being worth the effort.
I have tried Will Self once before when I tried and failed to read Dorian his reworking of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ – I didn’t finish that either. However I was in Oxfam and looking for something that looked fun and saw this for 49p and simply couldn’t say no.
Will Self is renowned for having a massive intellect or of being accused of being attention grabbing and indeed with this slightly controversial pair of novellas that create the book. The tales ‘cock’ and ‘bull’ both tell tales of people gaining sexual organs of the opposite sex. In ‘Cock’ Carol is miserable, her marriage is horrific and she has finally realised that Dan is not the man for her. Dan has joined Alcoholics Anonymous yet it doesn’t seem to be working. One night when he is out on the lash Carol finds out she has gained something, something that will change her life and her relationship forever.
In ‘Bull’ we meet John Bull, he is a real mans man; he drinks (not to excess) and plays rugby. One day he wakes up to find something new has appeared on the back of his leg. He goes to the doctor and finds his doctor takes more than just a patient-to-doctor relationship, he gains a new admirer. Both of these tales have extremely comic if slightly eye opening consequences and take us into the minds of people who have just had the shocks of their lives.
People will slate this book as being trash and filth, they will be missing out. These tell how daft, crazy, naughty, dirty and enthralling sex can be. Will Self is refreshing in his no holes barred description of the sexuality have, this is funny not filthy. It’s also very clever and asks the question of would women become more male and vice versa and these questions are answered as the stories go on. This is not your run of the mill novel and I absolutely loved it. Maybe I will give Dorian another go one day?