What I just finished reading
Last night I read the final story in Maybe This Time, a collection by the Austrian author Alois Hotschnig. I read these with a sense of unease. They’re all unsettling tales that involve loss of identity and characters who are in a form of suspended life. All but one has an unresolved ending.
This morning I finished the 2021 Booker prize winner, The Promise by Dalmut Galgut which is on my Autumn Reading List. I’d started it last year but laid it aside (can’t remember why) so I had to start all over again because I’d forgotten most of what I’d read.
It’s a multi-faceted novel that gives you a lot to think about. On one level it’s about the decline and near annihilation of a white South African family who fail to honour a promise. But I’m also pondering whether it’s a commentary on how a South Africa free from apartheid also failed to live up to its promise.
What I’m reading now
If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll probably have noticed that I don’t tend to read science fiction. Yet that’s exactly what I’m reading right now in the form of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. It’s an attempt to complete the “space” square on my Reading Bingo card.
The science is way over my head (I tend to skim some of the more complex passages) and the premise (a race to save Earth) is a well-worn one. But if I approach it as just a mad adventure story I find it surprisingly enjoyable.
What I’ll read next
Now this might change in the few hours between the time when this post goes live, and the time when I go to bed.
I really, really need to read some of those books I requested from Net Galley. So I’m thinking to begin with Shrines of Gaiety, the new novel by Kate Atkinson. Vying for attention however, is Lessons, the new book from Ian McEwan — I used to love his fiction but haven’t been as enamoured in recent years so it will be interesting to see if this marks a return to the standard of Atonement.
Or I could go very low tech and open up The Magician by Colm Toibin which is the book club read next month. A newspaper article I read today could see me turn instead, to a nineteenth century classic in the shape of Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell.
The article was about yet another university giving its literature students trigger warnings about books on the syllabus. Gaskell’s North and South was highlighted for its misogyny, prostitution and “examples of extreme classism” content. Yes it does deal with the rich/poor divide and the struggles of working class families to make ends meet but are students now not supposed to know about that??? So I might read Ruth which deals with the same issues, as a form of protest.
I shall now step down off my soap box.
I’m curious though whether you think “warnings” like these are necessary or do you find the preposterous?
What I’m Reading is in support of WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. WWW Wednesday is actually a weekly meme but I choose to do it just once a month.