Saturday, 1 October 2022

What I've Been Reading Recently

Actually found some time to do some reading these last three months, so here's what I got stuck into since last time.

The Labour Party's Political Thought by Geoffrey Foote
Assembly by Natasha Brown
A Party With Socialists In It by Simon Hannah
Historical Materialism 11 (3), October 2003
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
Why We Love Sociopaths by Adam Kotscko
The Survival Game by Gary Gibson
Historical Materialism 11 (4), December 2003
The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
God's Teeth and Other Phenomena by James Kelman
Stars and Bars by William Boyd
The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes
Trio by William Boyd
Daemon World by Ben Counter
A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge
Eclipse by John Banville
Union Street by Pat Barker
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel
Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury
The Ghost by Arnold Bennett
The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
First and Only by Dan Abnett
The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
Solo by William Boyd

A few items worth noting. The Foote book on Labour politics is a must read for getting to grips with the more obscure corners of the party's history and the contradictions of Labourism. It's old, but there's plenty of insights there I've found helpful. I've been having a love affair with William Boyd's work of late, having read An Ice Cream War ages ago. All of them are top notch and recommended, including Solo, his foray into a James Bond adaptation. Very much in the Ian Fleming mould where Bond isn't indestructible nor the beneficiary of superhuman luck. I had some fun with the Warhammer 40K stuff (the Abnett and the Counter), and was quite pleased with Arnold Bennett's ghost story. As Stoke's best known novelist, I'm mystified why The Old Wives' Tale gets all the plaudits when some of his so-called lesser works are better. I also enjoyed Barker's Union Street, if that's the right phrase for an unremitting portrayal of poverty and abuse. And thought Hotel du Lac was the most brilliantly observed and technically accomplished short novel I've read for a long time. It takes really skilled writing to draw something seemingly mundane, like a short hotel hop, and suffusing it with a terrifying intensity. Literary fiction at its finest.

What have you been reading recently?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Czech writer Franz Werfel (Penguin). A Jewish refugee from Nazism, Werfel drew on that to tell the story of the Armenian genocide through the real-life experience of a village that arms and defends itself against the Turkish army and a depiction of the political movers great and small. I was stunned by the parallels Werfel wanted to illustrate with his tale, the universality, but what kept me hooked was the poetry of the language, which I have to attribute to a translation comparatively recently expanded by the American poet James Reidel. One of the greatest books I’ve ever read.