It is usually not wise to discuss matters of costume with people

Photo by suburbanslice, under creative commons

Time for a catch up on the reading front, I think. It’s been a while, and I’m no longer sitting through those long old bus journeys to work. This hasn’t diminished my reading time as much as I thought though, as I find myself less and less attracted to evenings in front of the television, and more and more interested in lounging around with a book. A positive development, I think.

The major accomplishment has been finishing a Pynchon, something I’ve never managed before – if you’ve read Mason & Dixon you’ll probably tell me it’s the least challenging of his novels, but I defy you to deny it’s still an accomplishment to finish the damn thing. When a book requires a wiki, you know it’s big. I actually enjoyed it far more than I suspected: it’s atmospheric and interesting like a historical novel should be, as well as funny and sweet and romantic and occasionally (alright, mostly) mental. I have to confess, reading it was a far quicker per-page experience than most books (although it took weeks to get through the 700-odd pages), because get bogged down in the detail and you’re screwed. I can’t imagine trying to pick it apart for an English lit class: potential exploding-head effect, I should think.

I also read through Mike Parker‘s Map Addict (which seems to be partly about me, so I recommend it), and then JG Ballard‘s Empire Of The Sun. I’ve not read Ballard before, and thus haven’t built up the sort of dedication that he inspires in some. I imagine this work is not really representative of his oeuvre – no urban decay, dystopia or fetishism here, but it’s marvellously written all the same. I’ve always loved the film, and it clearly captured the feel of the written work perfectly. The viewpoint of the story remains, throughout, Jim’s unthinking trust in the adult world, even against the most substantial evidence.

This was followed by Jonathan Raban‘s Coasting. Following a line of tradition, Raban took himself off in the early eighties for a jaunt around the British Isles in a little boat. Raban has a real way with this sort of thing – I really admire travel writers but am far too scared of strangers to ever be one.

Right now I’m coming to the end of Lynsey Hanley‘s Estates – An Intimate History. I started off being a little annoyed by its descriptive tone, which seemed to consist of, “I had it really bad I just didn’t know it so I was fine as a child”. In actual fact, it’s far more interesting than that; personal yes, but it needs to be to work, and I’m now really enjoying it. Next, as recommended by Hanley in fact, Orwell’s The Road To Wigan Pier.


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