Tuesday, 26 December 2006

I romp with joy in the bookish dark


The title quotation is from Eating Poetry by Mark Strand. I love that poem so much!

It was my birthday on the 19th, and I was given the following:

Lionel Shriver - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Angela Carter - The Bloody Chamber
Angela Carter - Wise Children
Eric Maisel - The Van Gogh Blues
David Lodge - The British Museum is Falling Down

I also bought Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy with my birthday money.

Then for Christmas I got:

Hilary Mantel - Giving up the Ghost
Barbara Vine - Asta's Book
Dodie Smith - I Capture the Castle
Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake
Grace Paley - The Collected Stories
Julia Darling - The Taxi Driver's Daughter (me!)
Jill Paton Walsh - Knowledge of Angels

Most of those were recommended reading in my Mslexia Writer's Diary. And I've got the new one this year!

I knew I'd be getting books (because I asked for them!) so I hurried up and finished the stack of Philippa Gregory novels I'd got for pennies in a charity shop in Egham in time for my birthday. Then I started right on The British Museum is Falling Down because it's short and funny. It's set just before the Vatican II reforms in the Catholic Church took place. I must lend it to my friend, Tom, who's in the Society of Saint Pious X, or the SSPX, who think that Vatican II was a dreadful error. It's interesting to consider it from the perspective of Catholics of the time, and how those ideals which are, to Catholics, right in theory can be rather more problematic in practice. Well, I know that from my friendship with Tom. I'm glad I'm not Catholic!

The British Museum was a very self-consciously modern novel, with all the shifting about and the hey, did that really happen? which makes you question reality, just like in Coetzee's Foe which we studied this autumn. It was very much a stream-of-consciousness thing and there were Woolf references everywhere, which I liked, because I like Woolf. I also found out, in the afterword, that there were references and style imitations from all sorts of other people whom I hadn't read. So I felt silly.

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