Saturday, April 29, 2006

What I've Read in April

The Beer and Books choice for April was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When you stop and think about it, the story is quite unbelievable but it's so full of life that you happily think someone will wait 51 years and however many days and months for the girl they loved as a young man – even though they have spoken to them, err, about once. I did feel less sympathetic towards certain of the characters after our discussion but, still, a book I enjoyed and would read again.

Loving London, there are certain authors who immediately appeal to me, for example Peter Ackroyd. Hawksmoor was absolutely fantastic (and Pat you do have to read it before you undertake any kind of photo 'project' of his churches in the City). This time around was The House of Dr Dee the story of a son who inherits a house in Clerkenwell, that he knew nothing about, from his father. A researcher, he discovers the building once belonged to Dr John Dee, astronomer to Queen Elizabeth, alchemist, navigator, hermeticist and cabalist (amongst other things), and he becomes convinced things aren't as they seem. The book drew me in and against my better judgement, ( I like to think I'm a fairly rational person), I found myself wanting to believe in strange supernatural goings-on. Sign of a good book perhaps but it didn't have as much of an effect on me as the far superior Hawksmoor.

There are many stories which we all think we know but have never read. Oliver Twist would be a good example. I have struggled reading other Dickens's novels but this one is good. It's thoroughly readable and must have been quite hard-hitting both morally and socially at the time. I'm not sure I like Oliver as a child but the book itself is to be recommended.

I should now be reading the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov but having decided to rely on the local library, partly as a result of reading the hugely entertaining A Life Stripped Bare. My Year Trying to Live Ethically by Leo Hickman, a present from a friend, things have gone a little pear-shaped. I have been waiting a considerable amount of time (forever it seems) for the reservation and am now obliged to try and buy the book Tuesday to read it in time for the following Monday. Given work has been so hectic and I've read so little this month, it doesn't look promising.

Instead, I've started The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham. Written in 1952 she's currently being rediscovered. The 'Campion mystery' starts in a pea-souper in the heart of London; it can't fail to be good.


Doug said...

OOOOH I just LOVE Margery Allingham. She is one of my favorites though I have been in a severe Gladys Mitchell rut as of late. Peter Ackroyd sounds really good. I will have to check it out and see if we carry any of his books.

coolbuddha said...

I'll give Margery Allingham a try. Can't beat a good mystery.

Shep said...

I loved Love In The Time of Cholera - by far his best. 100 Years Of Solitude is also a fantastic read, despite a large cast of characters who all have the same name (nice one, Gabriel).

Avoid his last book Memories Of My Melancholy Whores. 100 pages of an old man lusting after a young girl. Poor.

The Fatalist said...

Sadly I've read none of 'em. The Allingham one appeals though...
Have you seen that pocket booklet in lots on libraries on 'London Reads'. It's got some great stuff in there to get your teeth into.