Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

i love big books and i cannot lie

For someone who loves reading and stockpiles books and shoes in the house in quantities that make my husband cry, I was a pretty late starter at the whole reading-independently business (as I explained to my mother whenever she asked, "but why should I learn to read when you read to me so well?"). I did love books though, and would be happily subdued for hours by an adult telling me stories (and I really wasn't picky, they could have been the same stories over and over again) until I memorised entire books of Russian poetry and could recite them back, verse for verse.

And despite my passionate attachment to the written word, it took me a pretty long time in school to pick up reading on my own. I was both unmotivated and distracted, and it took a while for the connections between sounds and letter shapes to click. I remember also the vivid void between the halting way that reading sounded when I was reading new material outloud with the way words would fly from me when recited from memory.

But I got better at it, and have been reading voraciously ever since to the extent that a)unless my house contains a constant store of at least five books I haven't read but am interested by, then I don't feel safe b)when moving house, moving books takes three times as long as all our other posessions put together.

To me, good writing is like good sex - a transcendental experience, which absorbs me to the exclusion of all else while happening and tingles pleasantly when remembered, afterwards. Finding a book I love from the beginning is not easy, but when it happens the resulting orgasm of the mind with smaller undertones of damn, I wish I'd written that makes me radiate pleasure like a stroked cat and treasure the writer as a treat which can be savoured again, and again.

Of the books I've read recently the one I've loved best is Little Children by Tom Perrotta- (I also enjoyed the film, but the book is sublime), and its rich and subtle portrayal of essentially, different kinds of losers. The storyline is simple - an interveawing of various suburban lives and the poignancy of characters who all in some way feel that they are living the wrong life. The author treats his characters with equal measure of sympathy and ridicule, the narrative does not shy away from the grotesque, the morality errs on the side of greyness and it's all endlessly, endlessly bittersweet.

But what I love best about the book is that it has provided me with some of my favourite sentences in the world:

"Todd spiked the ball and waited for them, his arms stretched wide, his chest heaving as if he were trying to suck the whole night into his lungs. All he wished was that Sarah had been there to see it, to know him as he'd known himself streaking down the wide-open field, not as some jock hero socring the winning touchdown, but as a grown man experiencing an improbable moment of grace."


"How could she explain? She was here because she'd kissed a man in this very spot, and tasted happiness for the first time in her adult life. She was here because he'd said he'd run away with her, and she believed him - believed, for a few brief, intesely sweet moments that she was something special, ne of the lucky ones, a character in a love story with a happy ending."

What's been your favourite thing you've read recently?


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
I'm currently reading Boccacio's Decameron. The setting is Italy, about 1350, when the plague was busy wiping out most of Europe's population. Ten friends decide to get out of town and go to a villa to wait it out. There isn't much to do there, so for ten days each takes a turn at being the "ruler", and each friend tells a story.

Last summer I finally read Anna Karenina. I strongly recommend it. I have quite a few big huge Russian novels ahead for me.

Feb. 8th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
Agh, not Anna Karenina! I have bad memories of that book. My brother had to read it as part of his literature assignment over summer which meant that I got blackmailed into reading most of it for him and I have to say the highlight for me was when she finally killed herself.

BUT! I did like the movie. And well done for finishing the whole thing.
Jan. 30th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
I read A Scanner Darkly and was unexpectedly impressed.
The People's Act of Love by, I think, James Meek, was also v good.
Feb. 8th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)
A Scanner Darkly sounds familiar - I think I was debating about seeing the film.

The James Meek novel I haven't come across before but look forward to exploring.
Jan. 30th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
recently? uh ... read recently?
You mean like in Mountain Astrologer? Or Astrolocality something or other by Martin Davis?

Ha. As my progressed moon moves into Sagittarius I am becoming very aware that hibernating is done, intensive study needs to relax, and I need to LIVE a little just to have anything to talk about! I need to do more living and less studying to learn, these days. I have formed these habits though ... working on that.

However, a favorite of mine, may have mentioned it before, is Jeanette Winterson. Every word in the book Written on the Body practically moves me to tears. Have you read her?

Now, please remind me, what place does writing your own stuff hold in your life?

By the way - I was updating my client database the other night and came across your name and thought I would remind you that you still have a reading from me left on the books! :) You should schedule you a treat; you've already paid for it. Or schedule a friend a treat. Whatever!
Jan. 30th, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Jan. 30th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
It's a wonderful book. I wrote an essay on it which got a terrible mark because I was so involved in the book I wasn't analytical enough, it's not often that happens to me.
Jan. 31st, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
yes it's so engrossing!
am thinking of polling people who've read it: "Truth Or Hysteria?"
Jan. 30th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)
I'm midway through The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall which isn't really a novel as much as piece of gay propoganda at a time it was incredibly dangerous to be writing anything sympathetic to homosexuality. But I am in the mood for pieces of social history rather than stories at the minute.

The last good story I read was...Pratchett's Thud, not life changing, but a damned good romp all the same :-)
Jan. 31st, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
i'd like to read that. I've read her 'unlit lamp' which i liked. recently i am reading paul coehlo, which i love.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


deep sky, firefly

Latest Month

December 2013


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow