Monday, September 02, 2019

Under the radar

It's a quiet September morning and the rays from the rising sun stream through the bedroom window and all the way down the landing. It does this when we're nearing the equinox. I love it that I could make a good guess at the month of the year just by looking at where the sun comes up.

I haven't posted recently because I've been doing things I can't tell you about, such as spending time with my teenage grandsons. I would LOVE to tell you about their progress but I'm forbidden. I understand. I expect that soon Lux (9)

and Cece (7)

will be laying down similar prohibitions. 

I asked a question on Twitter recently and no-one answered it. I retweeted, and still got no response. So I am asking you. Is literary fiction (i.e. the kind of novel that is entered into big competitions such as the Man Booker) supposed to merely engage the brain? Or is it supposed to engage you emotionally as well? I don't often read this kind of book because they usually sound so unappealing, but I am two chapters into A Visit from the Goon Squad and am so far not enthralled, emotionally or intellectually. Do you recommend that I carry on?

Second question - do you ever read a book that entertains and grips you, a book where the inside front covers are full of positive reviews, and you race to the end and put it down and think 'So what?' I did this with Amanda Craig's The Lie of the Land, and last week with The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. I'm not complaining about the writing. And as I said, they are both entertaining, and there is a heartwarming streak in the mermaid book. It's just that I don't find there is anything to take away from either of them. They are both books I will give away, rather than keep to reread.

I welcome your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Might I recommend Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. I have found this one of the most satisfying and engaging novels I have read this year or ever really
Betting this won’t get through the tech glitches. But here it goes

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Ana.
I will check it out.

Kristine said...

Hi Sue,
This is probably an "age-ist" comment but I think our response depends a lot on the age of the person doing the recommending or reviewing or writing. As a person of a certain age I don't find many recently written books particularly enjoyable. I'm usually satisfied by well-written books which encourage thinking and feeling. For me, the writing always comes first.
Recent re-reads are JL Carr's "A Month in the Country" and Rebecca West's "The Return of the Soldier" - both wonderful novellas.
I'm curious though as to whether you ever got around to reading "Rules for Old Men Waiting" by Peter Pouncey and the Wallace Stegner, "Crossing to Safety". What did you think of these?
I haven't read "Goon Squad" - didn't appeal to me.

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Kristine
I did read Crossing to Safety and was pleased by your recommendation. I am glad I read it. I was drawn in and entranced by the writing to begin with, and enjoyed the subtle characterisation, but as the book went on, I became less in love with it. When the woman contracted polio (sorry - I have forgotten her name - old age memory loss) I wanted more explanation and/or description. I also found the ending rather long and drawn out. It was definitely 'of an age' because I kept thinking in the first half of the book - "who on earth is looking after the children while they are doing all this partying, picnicking and gallivanting?"
I am glad you've reminded me of the other one - I shall think again about reading it.
I read two chapters of The Goon Squad and have not gone back to it. Yet.