If you’re in the UK at the moment, I hope you have something long and cool by your side to help you through this heatwave. It’s typical of this country – we go for months when the weather is anything but the summer sunshine and blue skies we all look forward to and then wham, we go straight into a heatwave with temperatures today around the 30C mark. No middle way here – it’s either cloud and chilly or scorching. No grumbles in my corner however. I shall enjoy it while it lasts because we Brits all know that this kind of weather don’t stay around too long in these parts.
Enough of the weather you say!. What about the books?? This is meant to be BookerTalk after all. Quite so. And so without further ado let me catch you up on a few literary things.
Today’s headline news is that I’ve just become the moderator for The Complete Booker blog, taking over from Laura (of Laura’s Musings). After six years managing the blog she’s decided to concentrate on other things in her life. Since no-one else stepped forward and I didn’t want to see all that effort go to waste, I volunteered to take over. If you don’t know about this blog, I’m going to quite shamelessly put in a plug or two now and again. If you’re interested in any of the Man Booker prize winners or short and long listed titles, come and take a look at this site.
In other news
- I finished reading what has been the hardest book I’ve read all year so far; Petals of Blood by the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. It’s taken me around six weeks to read this because it’s not only a long book (almost five hundred pages of small text) but because it contained so much human suffering I could cope with it only in short bursts. The novel is set in post Independence Kenya and follows the lives of four people who all come to settle in a remote village where they struggle against drought and harvest failure but even more painfully against first the indifference and then the greed of their political and religious leaders. An incredibly powerful novel that’s now gone into my list of all time favourites.
- As an antidote, I read a few lighter novels in recent weeks. Truth in Advertising (review published yesterday) was a reasonably good read and its humorous digs at the world of advertising reminded me what a lucky escape I had when my job interview with an ad agency many years ago came to nothing. All I can remember of the interview is a bizarre conversation about instant potato with a man who wore gold tipped shoes. I also read The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vickers. It was the choice for the book club this month but I unfortunately forgot that I would be on way back from a business trip to Belgium so would miss the actual meeting. I say unfortunate because this wasn’t a book I enjoyed by any stretch of the imagination. I could see why she is an incredibly popular author but this one was far too light and cosy for my taste.
- Later today I’m planning to find a shady spot in the garden where I can spend an hour finishing Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac. Not only will this be another step closer to completing my Booker Prize challenge but it means I can join in the Brookner reading month hosted by HeavenAli.
And that – as White House press secretary C J Craig says in one of my favourite TV series (West Wing)…. is a full lid for today. See you all same time same place next week.