Guardian Review links

Porto

I suspect we’re all being driven around the bend by the political news – in the UK anyway, but the Guardian Review section has an article about the relationship with Europe that some well known writers have, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Mary Beard, Michel Faber, Sandi Toksvig and others contribute their thoughts to this article. The photo above is of Porto and it took me straight back there and the lovely trip along the river we had.

The Book of the Week is Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout which is apparently a set of interlinking short stories, but as I thought that Olive Kitteridge was exactly that – and not all that well interlinked – I’ll be giving that one a miss, but you might be one of the many fans. You can read about Olive, Again here. But I’m just saying – ‘Why oh why?!’

I’ll be reading The Life and Loves of E.Nesbit by Eleanor Fitzsimons at some point in the future although it will probably be quite a sad read as from what I know of her it wasn’t an easy life. You can read Sarah Watling’s review here.

I know so many people who adore cheese so I imagine that A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles by Ned Palmer will be a big seller, especially for Christmas, have a read here if you’re a cheese addict.

Lastly I’m wondering if any of you have read anything by the American author Laird Hunt. I found the review of his new book In the House in the Dark of the Woods interesting but I’m wondering if it might veer too much to the horror side for my liking. You can read Justine Jordan’s review of it here.

Guardian Review links

It’s ages since I’ve written a post about some of the articles in the Guardian Review which have particularly interested me – so here goes.

Patti Smith answered some questions here. I was particularly interested that she mentions Pinocchio as the book that she wished she had written. It has been on my Classics Club list for some time, I feel more inclined to get around to it soon now. I’m slightly perturbed that she had such anxiety while reading Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper – and that she actually threw up! She has never finished it. I completely understand her reaction to Villette though as I’ve also been so freaked out by the ending to a book that I had to rewrite it in my head, it was one by Paul Auster if you’re interested. Patti fell in love with books at a young age – I completely agree with what she says about Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

A friend is reading Elton John’s autobiography Me at the moment and enjoying it, I plan to get around to that one sometime. I’ve never seen him live but Elton was such a feature of my young teenage life and even when I got married we had Jack’s Yellow Brick Road poster hanging on our bedroom wall, and here we are – both over 60 now and still enjoying Elton, in fact everywhere we went on that recent Baltic cruise we were being accompanied by Elton, he’s really popular in ‘the east’ especially Russia. I’ll never forget watching that concert in the USSR on TV when he was the first western pop star to play there. The audience hardly dared move, never mind sing and dance as they would have been doing here.

There’s an interview with Elizabeth Strout. I am possibly the only person to have been unimpressed by her book Olive Kitteridge. I really disliked Olive and the whole thing seemed disjointed to me, but apparently it won a Pulitzer – go figure as some people elsewhere say. Are you a fan?

There’s a new John le Carre book out called Agent Running in the Field, you can read about it here. I have to start reading him again, I have so many to catch up with. It’s a Brexit novel, there’s no getting away from it it seems.

There’s ‘a wheen o’ crime fiction written about here, or maybe it’s just ‘a hantle’, there are five of them.

You can read about Doctor Zhivago and a CIA plot here.

I hope you enjoy some of these links.

Bookish Guardian links

I recently enjoyed reading Helen Dunmore’s book The Betrayal, the first book of hers that I’ve read. So I was sad to read that she is seriously ill with some form of cancer that has a poor prognosis. She has written an article about facing mortality.What do we leave behind when we die? she asks.

There’s a new book out about Raymond Chandler and his work called Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality by Fredric Jameson. You can read an article about it here.

The author Elizabeth Strout writes about her working day here.

The retired MP Roy Hattersley has written an article comparing Brexit with Henry VIII’s break with Rome. You can read it here.

And just because I love Bogart and Bacall below is a still from The Big Sleep.

Bogart

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge cover

I decided to read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout because so many bloggers that I follow seemed to have enjoyed it, and also the setting is Maine in the US which is a setting I’ve enjoyed in the past. But although I ploughed on to the end of this book hoping that it would get better – it didn’t. I found it to be a car crash of a book – a fix up. Apparently it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction – the mind boggles!

It’s just as well we are all different I suppose but I couldn’t find anything good to say about it. The front cover says that it is now a HBO miniseries sky ATLANTIC – and I can see why the book would be snapped up for TV as it basically lurches from one bad situation to another. Just the sort of thing that gets people watching soaps.

There were no likeable characters, particularly not Olive Kitteridge who spends her life telling people how awful her mother-in-law was, but when her son marries, Olive is an even worse m-i-l. She’s so much of a power freak that she has designed and built a house for her son to live in when he grew up, close to her house. She has a strangle hold on his life and her husband Henry is a pathetic soul living on dreams, as anybody would who was faced with Olive day in day out.

In parts of the book it wanders off and to me it felt like the author had pulled some unpublished short stories out from under her bed (all writers have them) and shoe-horned them into this book to bulk it out. Then threw the name of Olive Kitteridge into them by way of tying it in.

If you feel the need to wallow in depressing human circumstances then go ahead and read Olive Kitteridge. Given what 2016 has been like, I’m in need of something altogether more entertaining and uplifting – and less like a bad soap in search of ratings.