“A journey once begun, has no end.”
– Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss.
Believing wholeheartedly in the magic of serendipity, I find myself propelled by this thought, and so here is my first step on a journey without end. The purpose of this intrepid adventure is to explore my thoughts on – and reactions to – works of literary fiction for the most part, though I shall dabble in commercial fiction, non-fiction – particularly as it pertains to the world of authors and creation – and perhaps the occasional foray into the arts, architecture and design, and the world of travel and cultural exchange.
I am no literary critic, nor have I an English Lit degree gathering dust upon my wall, but I have a love of all things lyrical, poetic and beautifully formed, and I have a well-worn and hefty Penguin English Dictionary to keep me company. Whilst I dabble in all forms of literary fiction from the classics right through to post-modern and whatever terms describe the fiction of now (or in Bolaňo’s case perhaps, the fiction of the future?), I have a love of magical realism and will always return to its shores like the pelicans who flock to Lake Eyre when it is in flood and gorge on all that is good and wondrous therein. Yet, hand-upon-heart, I recognise that genius exists in all forms of creation, and I intend to explore them all. I hope that people will find my thoughts accessible rather than tertiary and will be able to enjoy the passion I have for great writing in any form, short or long. I hope you will take pleasure in taking a step or three with me on my journey, with its occasional stumble, many peaks, and all manner of pesky interruptions into the world of literature that we all share as soon as we turn the cover of a new work and breathe in the scent of newly imprinted paper – or perhaps wallow in the wine-infused, dog-eared, and otherwise well-loved favourite we just needed to finger our way through once again!
A short list of my favourite books would include: anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabito!), the few works of Jose Saramago I’ve read, Gunter Grass’s divine The Tin Drum, the best works of Salmon Rushdie – The Moor’s Last Sigh (wonderful), East West (delightful), Midnight’s Children (sublime) – and Peter Carey – Illywhacker is a personal favourite; also, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, Richard Flanagan’s first three works including Gould’s Book of Fish. But I also love some of the classics, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is wonderful, as is Persuasion. I admire Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and the ‘erudite poeticism’ of her writing in general.
A sample of the books I have on my shelves in the TBR category and which I hope to get to at some stage in 2010:
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
- Orlando by Virginia Woolf
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A few from the more contemporary end of things:
- The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabito
- The History of the Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago
- The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaňo (& 2666 if I can manage it!)
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- Underworld by Don deLillo
- The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
And at the very nowness of now and/or perhaps at the somewhat more commercial end (though I don’t like to pigeon-hole in this fashion):
- The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Anne Shaffer & Annie Barrows
- A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
I also intend to sample the works of: Sebastian Barry, Marilynne Robinson and authors whose surname is all that’s required (and all of whom I have yet to read (shame on me!)): Ondaatje, Ishiguro, Roth and Mantel. I may also sneak in some Coetzee and Winton. There will always, always, be room for serendipitous purchases, and the purchases that come after what seem like hours of foraging, as if one’s life depended upon the tasty morsel discovered thereafter. Whilst I have a penchant for a great Aussie read, I aim for a wide geographical coverage with North & Latin Americas, British, mainland European, Indian, Pakistani, African, and Japanese authors all planned for 2010.
I have already made it through three works this year: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday, The Pages by Murray Bail, and Amulet by Roberto Bolaňo – all of which I enjoyed for a variety of reasons. I am now halfway through The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai which won the Booker Prize in 2006. More on these reads soon.
Come join me on my peripatetic literary wandering.