Monday, October 31, 2011

{one book, two books... redux}

I loved Simon's quiz on Stuck in a Book the first time, back in May. Let's have another go:

1. The book I'm currently reading.
I have a lot of books on the go at once, but I'm closest to finishing (one in my study and one in the loo) these two rather different books: The Complete Book of Aunts by Rupert Christiansen (2006) and Pierre Frei's Berlin (2005).


They are different in genre (commonplace book/anthology vs. crime fiction) and other things (e.g., Berlin is a translation from German), but their biggest difference is quality: Berlin is a unputdownable story of a series of murders set in immediate post-war Berlin. It offers an interesting twist by tracing the lives of the victims from roughly ten years before the crime up to the circumstances that led to their being in that particular place at that specific time. It is an excellent and intelligent thriller.

The Complete Book of Aunts, which seemed so promisingly amusing when I saw it in a secondhand store, achieved the fate of relegation to the bathroom, where books go to die force me to finish them in the absence of anything else to read. It is superficial and pretty sloppy in content. It needed a good editor and it certainly is not "The Complete Book of Aunts", given that the author claims very early on that there is no adjectival equivalent of 'avuncular' for aunts. Um, yes there is: materteral. Wouldn't you at least Google if you were interested in auntly completeness? It also contains sentences that should never have made it into print, such as: "After she died, Virginia wrote a memoir of Caroline Emelia..." Clever woman, Virgina Woolf, writing from beyond the grave... As I said, s-l-o-p-p-y.
 
2. The last book I finished:


The last book I finished was very enjoyable: Tess Gerritsen's The Silent Girl (2011). It was a crime novel too (I seem to be wallowing in crime at the moment) and the current last in the Rizzoli/Isles police procedurals by Tess Gerritsen. I had read none of her books before I read the other Simon's review of Keeping the Dead. Next thing I knew I had consumed the entire series in two weeks and was living in fear that even locked doors and windows won't keep out a serial killer who wanted nothing more than to mummify me for posterity. OK, I exaggerate a little, but these books are totally addictive, well-written and full of moments that are so frightening you will need to go and turn on all the lights and hide under the bed. For some reason there was always a gruesome autopsy scene just when I wanted to have dinner. I haven't read much along these lines since I gave up with Patricia Cornwell when her plots and characters got so ridiculous they made me laugh instead of tremble in fear, but I thoroughly recommend Gerritsen if you want to be scared out of your wits. My only quibble is that why is it generally women who meet gruesome and graphically described ends (and from women writers)? This article gave me pause for thought (and somewhere recently I've read something else about book jackets on these books always featuring anonymous chunks of naked women, but I can't find the link; I don't think it was this). Of course, Gerritsen does provide balance with her strong female protagonists who defy victimization.

3. The next book(s) I want to read:


Non-fiction? Rosemary Auchmuty's A World of Women: Growing Up in the Girls' School Story (1999). Why? I enjoyed her first book on this theme, about the elaborate worlds created in girls' stories set in schools.
Fiction?  Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn (1984). Why? Love books set in the 1930s/Second World War.
Crime-fiction? Imogen Robertson's Anatomy of Murder (2011) - I enjoyed the first one in the series.

4. The last book I bought:


Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (2008). Yes, I'm about two (and the rest) years behind on what everyone else has read. I like it that way.

5. The last book I was given:


As I was leaving work one day, a lady in the lobby was handing out the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26 (eds. Ioana Petrescu and David Adès, 2002). Many passersby looked a little suspicious that someone was giving away (a) anything and (b) poetry and (c) something not involving enrolment in a religious cult or pyramid selling scheme. There was a lot of Don't Make Eye Contact going on. But the Friendly Street Poets are an Adelaide institution: a poetry collective established way back in 1975. They hold poetry readings, open mike nights and so on, and publish anthologies of their members' work. Poetry is food for the soul, so here's a taste:
To be a moth, once more, at the lamp
of a woman's eyes; seeking that flame
in the knowledge of cinders; and the
darkness when the lamp is turned away...
(excerpt from David Adès, 'To Hazard This')

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for playing! I enjoyed the DVD of The Camomile Lawn, but haven't got it or read it...

    And I love the idea of books going to die in the bathroom! I tend to work my way through collected letters or diaries there...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read duller non-fiction there too, but diaries are a great idea. I should take Harold Nicolson in there. Not that he's dull.

    ReplyDelete

{READ IN 2018}

  • FEBRUARY
  • 30.
  • 29.
  • 28.
  • 27.
  • 26. The Grave's a Fine & Private Place - Alan Bradley
  • 25. This is What Happened - Mick Herron
  • 24. London Rules - Mick Herron
  • 23. The Third Eye - Ethel Lina White
  • 22. Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mewed - Alan Bradley
  • 21. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley
  • 20. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
  • 19. Speaking from Among the Bones - Alan Bradley
  • JANUARY
  • 18. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
  • 17. Miss Ranskill Comes Home - Barbara Euphan Todd
  • 16. The Long Arm of the Law - Martin Edwards (ed.)
  • 15. Nobody Walks - Mick Herron
  • 14. The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
  • 13. Portrait of a Murderer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 12. Murder is a Waiting Game - Anthony Gilbert
  • 11. Tenant for the Tomb - Anthony Gilbert
  • 10. Death Wears a Mask - Anthony Gilbert
  • 9. Night Encounter - Anthony Gilbert
  • 8. The Visitor - Anthony Gilbert
  • 7. The Looking Glass Murder - Anthony Gilbert
  • 6. The Voice - Anthony Gilbert
  • 5. The Fingerprint - Anthony Gilbert
  • 4. Ring for a Noose - Anthony Gilbert
  • 3. No Dust in the Attic - Anthony Gilbert
  • 2. Uncertain Death - Anthony Gilbert
  • 1. She Shall Died - Anthony Gilbert

{READ IN 2017}

  • DECEMBER
  • 134. Third Crime Lucky - Anthony Gilbert
  • 133. Death Takes a Wife - Anthony Gilbert
  • 132. Death Against the Clock - Anthony Gilbert
  • 131. Give Death a Name - Anthony Gilbert
  • 130. Riddle of a Lady - Anthony Gilbert
  • 129. And Death Came Too - Anthony Gilbert
  • 128. Snake in the Grass - Anthony Gilbert
  • 127. Footsteps Behind Me - Anthony Gilbert
  • 126. Miss Pinnegar Disappears - Anthony Gilbert
  • 125. Lady-Killer - Anthony Gilbert
  • 124. A Nice Cup of Tea - Anthony Gilbert
  • 123. Die in the Dark - Anthony Gilbert
  • 122. Death in the Wrong Room - Anthony Gilbert
  • 121. The Spinster's Secret - Anthony Gilbert
  • 120. Lift up the Lid - Anthony Gilbert
  • 119. Don't Open the Door - Anthony Gilbert
  • 118. The Black Stage - Anthony Gilbert
  • 117. A Spy for Mr Crook - Anthony Gilbert
  • 116. The Scarlet Button - Anthony Gilbert
  • 115. He Came by Night - Anthony Gilbert
  • 114. Something Nasty in the Woodshed - Anthony Gilbert
  • NOVEMBER
  • 113. Death in the Blackout - Anthony Gilbert
  • 112. The Woman in Red - Anthony Gilbert
  • 111. The Vanishing Corpse - Anthony Gilbert
  • 110. London Crimes - Martin Edwards (ed.)
  • 109. The Midnight Line - Anthony Gilbert
  • 108. The Clock in the Hatbox - Anthony Gilbert
  • 107. Dear Dead Woman - Anthony Gilbert
  • 106. The Bell of Death - Anthony Gilbert
  • 105. Treason in my Breast - Anthony Gilbert
  • 104. Murder has no Tongue - Anthony Gilbert
  • 103. The Man who Wasn't There - Anthony Gilbert
  • OCTOBER
  • 102. Murder by Experts - Anthony Gilbert
  • 101. The Perfect Murder Case - Christopher Bush
  • 100. The Plumley Inheritance - Christopher Bush
  • 99. Spy - Bernard Newman
  • 98. Cargo of Eagles - Margery Allingham & Philip Youngman Carter
  • 97. The Mind Readers - Margery Allingham
  • SEPTEMBER
  • 96. The China Governess - Margery Allingham
  • 95. Hide My Eyes - Margery Allingham
  • 94. The Beckoning Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 93. The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
  • 92. More Work for the Undertaker - Margery Allingham
  • 91. Coroner's Pidgin - Margery Allingham
  • 90. Traitor's Purse - Margery Allingham
  • 89. The Fashion in Shrouds - Margery Allingham
  • 88. The Case of the Late Pig - Margery Allingham
  • 87. Dancers in Mourning - Margery Allingham
  • AUGUST
  • 86. Flowers for the Judge - Margery Allingham
  • 85. Death of a Ghost - Margery Allingham
  • 84. Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham
  • 83. Police at the Funeral - Margery Allingham
  • 82. Look to the Lady - Margery Allingham
  • 81. Mystery Mile - Margery Allingham
  • 80. The Crime at Black Dudley - Margery Allingham
  • 79. The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham
  • 78. Murder Underground - Mavis Doriel Hay
  • 77. No Man's Land - David Baldacci
  • 76. The Escape - David Baldacci
  • 75. The Forgotten - David Baldacci
  • 74. Zero Day - David Baldacci
  • JULY
  • 73. Pilgrim's Rest - Patricia Wentworth
  • 72. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth
  • 71. The Watersplash - Patricia Wentworth
  • 70. Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth
  • 69. The Listening Eye - Patricia Wentworth
  • 68. Through the Wall - Patricia Wentworth
  • 67. Out of the Past - Patricia Wentworth
  • 66. Mistress - Amanda Quick
  • 65. The Black Widow - Daniel Silva
  • 64. The Narrow - Michael Connelly
  • 63. The Poet - Michael Connelly
  • 62. The Visitor - Lee Child
  • 61. No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories - Lee Child
  • JUNE
  • 60. The Queen's Accomplice - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 59. Mrs Roosevelt's Confidante - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 58. The PM's Secret Agent - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 57. His Majesty's Hope - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 56. Princess Elizabeth's Spy - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 55. Mr Churchill's Secretary - Susan Elia MacNeal
  • 54. A Lesson in Secrets - Jacqueline Winspear
  • 53. Hit & Run - Lawrence Block
  • 52. Hit Parade - Lawrence Block
  • 51. Hit List - Lawrence Block
  • 50. Six Were Present - E. R. Punshon
  • 49. Triple Quest - E. R. Punshon
  • MAY
  • 48. Dark is the Clue - E. R. Punshon
  • 47. Brought to Light - E. R. Punshon
  • 46. Strange Ending - E. R. Punshon
  • 45. The Attending Truth - E. R. Punshon
  • 44. The Golden Dagger - E. R. Punshon
  • 43. The Secret Search - E. R. Punshon
  • 42. Spook Street - Mick Herron
  • 41. Real Tigers - Mick Herron
  • 40. Dead Lions - Mick Herron
  • 39. Slow Horses - Mick Herron
  • APRIL
  • 38. Everybody Always Tells - E. R. Punshon
  • 37. So Many Doors - E. R. Punshon
  • 36. The Girl with All the Gifts - M. R. Carey
  • 35. A Scream in Soho - John G. Brandon
  • 34. A Murder is Arranged - Basil Thomson
  • 33. The Milliner's Hat Mystery - Basil Thomson
  • 32. Who Killed Stella Pomeroy? - Basil Thomson
  • 31. The Dartmoor Enigma - Basil Thomson
  • 30. The Case of the Dead Diplomat - Basil Thomson
  • 29. The Case of Naomi Clynes - Basil Thomson
  • 28. Richardson Scores Again - Basil Thomson
  • 27. A Deadly Thaw - Sarah Ward
  • MARCH
  • 26. The Spy Paramount - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 25. The Great Impersonation - E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • 24. Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
  • 23. The Case of Sir Adam Braid - Molly Thynne
  • 22. The Ministry of Fear - Graham Greene
  • 21. The Draycott Murder Mystery - Molly Thynne
  • 20. The Murder on the Enriqueta - Molly Thynne
  • 19. The Nowhere Man - Gregg Hurwitz
  • 18. He Dies and Makes No Sign - Molly Thynne
  • FEBRUARY
  • 17. Death in the Dentist's Chair - Molly Thynne
  • 16. The Crime at the 'Noah's Ark' - Molly Thynne
  • 15. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
  • 14. Night School - Lee Child
  • 13. The Dancing Bear - Frances Faviell
  • 12. The Reluctant Cannibals - Ian Flitcroft
  • 11. Fear Stalks the Village - Ethel Lina White
  • 10. The Plot - Irving Wallace
  • JANUARY
  • 9. Understood Betsy - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • 8. Give the Devil his Due - Sulari Gentill
  • 7. A Murder Unmentioned - Sulari Gentill
  • 6. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
  • 5. Gentlemen Formerly Dressed - Sulari Gentill
  • 4. While She Sleeps - Ethel Lina White
  • 3. A Chelsea Concerto - Frances Faviell
  • 2. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul - H. G. Wells
  • 1. Heft - Liz Moore