The Joy of Books

1 01 2009

As you probably guessed from the lesbian book club (don’t forget! discussion on Patience & Sarah starts soon!) I’m a big fan of reading.  In 2008, I finished fifty books in one year, which I’m quite proud of.  I’m also trying to read all the Booker prize winners in my lifetime.  You can see everything I’m reading and my personal challenges here.  I’m adding a new challenge, which is to read as many of the Lambda Lit Award winners as I can (before they go out of print).  Books going out of print is extremely frustrating, and I’m probably at the best library for queer books in the country, or at least one of them, so I want to read a lot before I leave.  But I made one interesting observation as I was dutifully taking down titles.  Two of my all time favourite books, Colm Toibin’s The Master and Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, were both up for Gay Men’s Fiction in 2004.  Toibin won, but I couldn’t imagine why they didn’t at least tie the two.  If I had to pick just one, I’d probably go with Hollinghurst, but that’s just me.

I hope to do some book reviews here soon, or at least brief impressions, but I did want to go ahead and make one recommendation.  If you’re not familiar with Ian McEwan, become familiar.  Really, do.  Atonement is fabulous, as is Saturday, but I just read two of his that I hadn’t before and was impressed by both.  The Comfort of Strangers is a brief look into a couple’s vacation and it’s mostly focused on snapshots, those lyrical impressions of which McEwan is such a master.  There is a rather creepy erotic element, but it doesn’t overshadow the beauty of the book or dominate the tone.  The other that I even more strongly recommend is On Chesil Beach, which I believe is his most recent novel.  It’s again only a snapshot, this time of one evening, though with bits of backdrop interspersed.  It captures the dawn of a sexual revolution, an unfortunate brink where newlyweds are unable to communicate on their wedding night and remain trapped in time and space.  Anyone who’s ever had bad heterosexual sex, or trouble talking to a partner, will deeply relate to this.  And again, the lyric quality of the writing is just stunning.




One response

1 01 2009

Thanks for the recommendations – On Chesil Beach sounds really good and I’m going to add it to my list. I read Atonement pretty recently, but I can’t for the life of me remember if I liked it or not. No, wait – I did, but after a while I found it kind of hard going, like trying to walk through a beautiful but very muddy forest. I would really like to join your book club, but I keep forgetting about it. I’ll have to write myself a reminder to check the library when you pick the next one.

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