Monday, August 15, 2011

 

Smut

I enjoyed Alan Bennett’s reading Queen (you know I am partial to the Queen, dear Readers) and so picked up Smut, which was a quick read and most entertaining. Light and clever and not marketable if it were written by someone unknown. And such fare is necessary—I don't always want or need Meaning but do want and need good writing, however frivolous the topic. This book is two long stories about alt lifestyles in the proper bedrooms of suburban or maybe smaller-town Britain. One thing I found odd: the author or the editor seemed averse to commas, which made some of the sentences a reading challenge. British style employs fewer commas to start with but this book was extreme.

Also read in the last few weeks: 
The White Garden by Stephanie Barron, on the recommendation of a colleague/professional friend, with whom telephone meetings always start out on business matters and devolve into satisfying chats on everything. I like my myths unmythified, generally, but Barron used Virginia cleverly and Jo, her main character, was so different in nature that it worked. I’ll try the Austen mystery series next.
Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott; can’t remember how I learned of this title. It was wonderful. The writing was careful and measured and the story well built. The genius in it was how I believed in and liked the main character, Clare and yet, when the fault in her good works was revealed and shook her AND the novel, I also believed that, and recognized that Clare as well. It was remarkable. 

In a nutshell: a long-divorced, living-alone, looking-at-middle age woman gets involved in the lives of a struggling family. Her community (an Anglican congregation, mostly) looks with favour on her good works; she’s uncomfortable with their approval, because she’s aware of how much caring for the family’s three children is giving her. But she doesn’t examine it too closely, until she’s forced to: and then the truth is galling and she almost doesn’t make it back to life. I loved the book, couldn’t put it down, but don’t tell me if you try it and can’t get into it. The earth-shattering truth of the book is so subtle, anyone might miss it; I think it entered into a very personal place that has nothing to do with the book, and I don’t want to explain or even look at that place. But this book is very, very good.

Now I’m reading The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. It’s wonderful if you know about E. Nesbitt and her milieu—the children’s writer in the book is obviously based upon her. The Fabians, tra la—what an interesting time in Britain this was, the time when Canada was granted its wish for independence. So far, I am observing that Byatt captures large-family life well, utterly avoiding the preciousness that creeps in so often when, for example, a writer is trying to portray the layered conversation full of internal reference that large witty families engage in. I think because, conversely, she invest more time in the less obvious part of large-family life: the layered and very strong interior lives of at least some of the siblings involved. I know I am going to enjoy this novel.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?