I tried, I really tried, to write about my perspective on the war in Iraq. And then I realised that I wasn’t 100% confident that I could, in fact, freely express my opinions without the immigration procedure that seems to be moving along rather swimmingly grinding to a sudden and incontrovertible halt. So I buckled.
And on to a nice, safe, bland, anodyne topic: the books I am not going to read in 2007. The list is already getting longer and longer, which in one way is good – I’ll know where to start next year – and in another way, bad – I’m already worrying about the amount I won’t get to read in 2008 because the 2007 books will be even more forlorn and neglected if I don’t get to them first. This year’s fiction ban is having the desired effect, and my dissertation is piecing itself together happily. But just look at what I am missing out on:
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower – Marcel Proust. I read vol 1 last January, in search of a continued challenge after successfully despatching ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’. After which all other fiction seemed somehat flimsy. What no slow, stately progress and cast of thousands? Pshaw. A friend of mine has been reading a volume of Proust every year and it seemed like an excellent plan. But, alas!, I shall have to read two volumes next year.
Doctor Thorne – Anthony Trollope. ‘The Warden’ was an absolute revelation to me, a book ill-served by the very bad blurb on the Penguin edition. ‘Barchester Towers’, of course, had the deliciously unpleasant Steerpike-like Slope one could cheer against. What delights does the third instalment have in store? I shall have to wait and see.
Virginia Woolf -Hermione Lee. This is the fault of Mrs Bookworld, who has been blogging so consistently about the joys of Woolf’s diaries that I found myself searching for them without even knowing it when last in a second-hand bookstore. And then I saw this biography and knew my fate was sealed.
Leonard Woolf : A Biography – Victoria Glendinning. The other side of the story. Last year I read ‘The Wise Virgins’ by Woolf, L., and that got me interested in him. This book is a double no, being both weighty and hardback. Sigh.
Against the Day – Thomas Pynchon. I’ve never managed to read any Pynchon, and in fact have a deal with a friend wherein if I read Pynchon, he’ll watch a Julia Roberts movie. But this one has me intrigued. I toyed with the idea of getting the audio book, but at 53 hours long – well, I’m more daunted by the prospect of how many hours at the gym that equates to. So, this one also goes into the mental pile for next year.
St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Stories – Karen Russell. The title got me. How can I resist it? In fact, if I see this kicking around in paperback I may have to buy it. I’m sure I can squeeze in the occasional short story. Also, look at the cover. That’s a nice wolf. I’d like that wolf on my shelf somewhere.
The Towers of Trebizond – Rose Macaulay. My erst-while boss has mentioned this on more than one occasion, and he has yet to steer me wrong.
Period Piece: The Victorian Childhood of Charles Darwin’s Grandaughter – Gwen Raverat. This one is from Slightly Foxed, the only literary journal I read, because its authors write about books they have enjoyed, whether old or new. So all the essays have a pleasing sense of personal enthusiasm to them, which I find very endearing. Gwen Raverat was a wood-cut illustrator, and I do like wood-cuts.
Alms for Oblivion – Simon Raven. Another recommendation from Slightly Foxed, but something I would never have thought of if A Dance to the Music of Time hadn’t been so bloody brilliant. The two series are roughly contemporary, although Raven only managed a paltry 9 volumes. This is only available in England, which means each volume will be about $50 and I shall have to arrange complicated payment via obliging friends. And, obviously, have time for 9 back to back novels.
The Harpole Report – J L Carr. Again, only available in England, and this time from the author’s own press, Quince Tree Press. But A Month in the Country was such a gem of a book that I can’t resist more from Carr.