World Book Day …

Today is World Book Day – a celebration of books and reading. I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (and no I haven’t seen the film yet and as I’m still hibernating, am unlikely to see it for some time).

It’s a while since I’ve read a novel that’s gripped me quite like this one. I’m reading it at night (so it doesn’t interfere with my writing the following day).

Though it’s very dark (a boy and his father travelling on foot through a post-apocalyptic landscape) it is beautifully (very sparely) written prose and the story itself so good I’m almost ahead of them on the look-out for what or who they’re going to come across next.

As soon as I’ve finished reading this, it’s back to reviewing. I’ve got two short story collections to finish – one for The Short Review (Clifford Garstang’s In An Uncharted Country) and Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Unusual Death of Julie Christie and Other Stories). I know I’ve mentioned these on here before. I keep thinking I’m getting through them too slowly, but I’m savouring them! I’m about half way through both books now but after finishing a story I need space and time to think about them. The short form is often very rich and I want my reviews to do these stories justice.

So that’s what I’m reading on World Book Day. How about you?

[Image above: BirdScreen. Diane Becker].

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6 Comments

  1. I know just what you mean about short stories, Diane.

    I just finished reading Liars and Saints – a first novel from Maile Melay that was published in 2003. Fascinating, exploring a Catholic family over generations. It was very moving in parts but also profoundly annoying – I can’t quite put my finger on why. Not a very useful review 🙂

    In between times I am dipping into a collection of stories by Alice Munro, and these I am enjoying very much. They are very dense and full of texture somehow; the characters really feel like people I could know, as if there are the nine tenths there somewhere underneath.

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  2. Thanks Ann. What you say about density and there being nine tenths of it (the story) underneath resonates and is one of the main reasons I like reading – and writing – the short form so much.

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  3. It’s a relatively new fascination for me. I always used to prefer novels, or even better a long series of novels, as something I could get lost in entirely.

    Just a couple of years ago I would have been one of those people who said they never really liked short stories, although I’d always read some, but mostly just those from novelists I liked. H E Bates from my school days springs to mind, also Angus Wilson, and Jane Gardam.

    I’ve been struggling with this poetry clinic but I also discovered that the modern poems I like best seem to be somehow related to the flash fiction I’ve been enjoying too. So that’s been quite interesting, and although I’ve not written much poetry I have started writing flash fiction.

    Do you have any recommendations for short story writers or flash fiction collections I might like to try?

    Oh, and I loved that crime writer you recommended – Nicola Upson, wasn’t it, who wrote the ones about Josephine Tey? Very interesting 🙂

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  4. Glad you liked the Nicola Upson! I got into short stories quite young – William Trevor then Raymond Carver, Katherine Mansfield. Then I subscribed to Granta for a few years and discovered lots of short story writers. Granta do a Best of American Short Stories which I can recommend – or have a look (sorry this is a plug but very pertinent!) at The Short Review website – every month it reviews 10 short story collections or anthologies – across a range of genres. Also interviews the authors. It’s at http://www.theshortreview.com and the March issue is live today.

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  5. I absolutely adored The Road and it definitely makes me want to read more of McCarthy’s stuff (I loved the film No Country for Old Men too so maybe I will get to that one day!).

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  6. Cheers Kate! I’ll put No Country for Old Men on my list then! Was supposed to be writing but have brought The Road downstairs to read now – can’t wait till bedtime!

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