I kept on buying books right up until I left on my trip and they were there waiting for me when i got home. I put Elena Ferrante’s four related novels on my reader burt didn’t finish them- I use the electronic reader only when I can’t manage a heavy load of books. I was busy on the trip and I also wasn’t really taken with the Ferrante story. The results aren’t in yet, though I’ll give it/them a chance. I’ve been busy picking up the pieces/remains of what I left behind but I did manage to read four books last week.
The first was the third volume in Robert Galbraith’s new series of thrillers. (I keep wanting to say J.K. Galbraith. I wonder how she chose that name - maybe a family name?) Anyway, to my mind, they got better. The second had a lot of unnecessary verbiage; I suppose it’s hard for an editor to argue with a phenomenally successful writer. But the third book, while just as long, has added substantial tangents related to the main story, so I didn’t mind the extra reading. People have complained about the violence, but it’s a trend - a growing trend and growing violence. The alternative, I suppose, is what is called a “cozy mystery”. W.H. Auden wrote a good essay years ago, of course, about detective stories. They are allegories of redemption, and I guess “cozy” goes to that point. It doesn’t wallow in gore; it goes about setting one’s universe back in place (“God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world” were it so!) Anyway, I enjoyed “Career of Evil”.
Next, I read “Fates and Furies”, a novel by Lauren Groff, a writer new to me, recommended by a friend (and apparently by President Obama). What a dazzling writer! Well. yes, but apart from the felicitous phrasing and the astounding metaphors, the physiological insights blew me away, and then the surprises, the twists and turns and different perspectives, all kept me rapt, wrapped in this artist's magic.
Not fair to read Lisa Moore’s “Caught” after that. It seemed to me to be tame and predictable, though it’s listed as a thriller. Lisa Moore is a Canadian writer, from Newfoundland, a Scotia Bank Giller Prize Finalist and a Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Finaiist, so i finished the book out of patriotic loyalty. I had the feeling that Moore was play-acting, putting on a show, playing a story that didn’t belong to her. Maybe I’m wrong. I frequently am, but who is more arbitrary than a private reader?
The fourth book I read, I didn’t expect to like at all, but it surprised me. “Fifteen Dogs”, by Andre Alexis, is fey and funny and also profound. Even if you don’t like dogs, you’ll like this one.
Now I’m into “Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir”, by Jean McNeil, one, because I’ll never get to Antarctica and two, because I am addicted to diaries, as some of you know. Well, another surprise/surprises: she is Canadian and grew up in a cold province, which doesn’t explain much. And I am embarrassed to say I never heard of her. She has written ten books, including four novels and a collection of short fiction and she has been short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for fiction,and the Journey Prize, and she has won the Prism International Prize for Short Fiction, and also for narrative non-fiction. And here’s why I never heard of her: she is the co-director of the Masters in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia and lives in London, England. She doesn’t live here any more. Sigh.
Post-script to a comment: Yes, Ruth, I am the person you think I am. If you send me your address, I will write you. Cheers.