Bookwise: April 2011

Right now I am reading:

The Weight of the World by Peter Handke
I am half way through this and it is brilliant and nauseating in equal measure. I love his writing and his ability to transform his sharp perceptions into words, but he is unbearably self-centred and neurotic and sexist, though maybe that it just part of his desire to live as a non conformist. This is a really honest desire and not a writer striking a pose. But I love his description of the natural world or inanimate objects and sometime of his daughter or of other people, though he can be relentlessly cruel, too. Fascinating notebook of observations to pore through, though I find myself wanting to write my responses to his thoughts under his. I have the feeling he would dislike me intensely, and I would find him over fastidious, hyper critical, cerebral and cold.

 

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
A contemporary novel about people like stockbrokers and hedge fund managers who manipulate the world by manipulating its resources to parley need and want and scarcity into cash profit, regardless of the human and ecological consequences, and about terrorists who are spawned in our midst as those young and naive and idealistic enough to want to change the world, and who are therefore ripe to be manipulated as another kind of resource, which is itself a response to economic manipulations. Intricate and riveting to read and I am getting near the end with a great sense of trepidation for the few characters I can actually like.

 

Haruki Murakami’s Interviews with survivors of the Sarin Gas attacks on the Tokyo Underground.
Beautifully written as the marvelous Kafka on the Shore, which is my favorite book of his. But these are real interviews he conducted with real people who were involved and who survived, though none of them without some mental or physical scar. All seem to be glad to have escaped worse, and pitied those who had not. What amazed me was the way in which the interview subjects did not blame ‘them’ even when in this case there is a ‘them’ to blame. They acted more often than not, selflessly, putting duty as fellow human beings and in some cases as railway employees, before their concern for themselves. Many of them suffered because of this. Some died. For me, the book was a revelation as another way of being and reacting. I saw it again during the worst stages of the Tsunami disaster; what I can only think of it as grace under fire. That is what Haruki Murakami shows me again and again in his characters.

I am reading Garth Nix’s Sabriel aloud to my daughter.

I am reading an archival version of a very old classic of travel literature called A Journey to Tibet by Sven Hedin. For the mountains and the feel of them. It is a lovely book.

(I am not reading fantasy at this moment because I am working on the edit of The Sending and I am afraid of the tone being influenced. But sitting on my bedside table is Robin Hobbs latest and Sheri Tepper’s latest and a new collection of Ursula Le Guin’s stories, plus I have some great murder mysteries waiting for me in the form of Bolinda audio books. The last I read was Jenny Siler’s Iced, which I loved.)