Saturday, June 11, 2011

may-june books

More books (sorry, but it’s a good way for me to remember stuff!):
In The Blood (Andrew Motion): A rather beautiful memoir of Motion’s childhood. I was pleasantly surprised by his simple writing style (I’d half-expected long paragraphs of clever prose) and was immediately drawn into the book by the opening chapter - which tells of an accident to his mother. Motion is two or three years younger than me and I couldn’t help contrasting our respective life styles as I read the book (Prep and Public schooling, horses, hunting, middle class and pretty wealthy – that’s him, not me!) and his detailed recollections compared with my own rather vague memories of childhood.
Wish Her Safe At Home (Stephen Benatar): This is our third Book Group book so I’d best leave my main remarks for the next meeting! It’s definitely not a book that I would normally have chosen to read, but I actually rather enjoyed it. It’s a novel about a woman who inherits a house in Bristol from her great-aunt – she gives up her job, sheds her old life, becomes a woman of leisure, takes up writing and a whole lot more. An amusing, but unsettling, book.
Getting Through (John McGahern): A series of short stories, set in Ireland. Stories of new life; retirement; forgetfulness; death; friendships; dance committees; love; lost youth; priests; whiskey; sex; music and families. Beautiful writing. It made me realise that there was a time when I loved reading short stories – I read so little that a short story felt like an entire book. Now I find that, instead of quietly reflecting on one of the stories, I’m into the next one before I know it.
Love Wins (Rob Bell): I have a somewhat grudging admiration for Rob Bell. When I first came across him (just before reading Velvet Elvis), I had imagined that he was the pastor of a small religious community in the States; it turned out that he’s the leader of a somewhat larger church community and frequently preaches to audiences of 10,000 or more! The fact remains that he’s really a very good communicator and I very much like his writing style. I hope to see Rob Bell at Greenbelt this summer, so will hopefully be able to form a more balanced view of him then. An encouraging, provocative book - which will no doubt cause outrage within the ranks of the evangelical alliance.
Where Three Roads Meet (Salley Vickers): I’m not quite sure what to make of this book – probably something to do with my relative lack of intellect and knowledge of Greek mythology! Vickers’s re-telling of the tale of Oedipus imagines Sigmund Freud, in his final days, listening to the story (and participating in the dialogue) as told by Tiresias, the blind seer who plays a part in the Greek legend. I thought I was going to love this book, but ended up feeling somewhat disappointed.

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