Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday catchup

Wow, check out this haunting photo of NYC in the pouring rain and shrouded in fog by one of my favourite blogging photographers Blue Jake (click link for larger). It's raining here in London with thunder and lightning so although poor M has had to go into work, I am spending my Sunday tucked up warm at home and catching up on reading the blogs stacked up unread in my Bloglines account, such as Japanese-based Neomarxisme and Laughing Knees, California-based little.yellow.different, and NYC-based Le Petit Hiboux.

I'm also reading Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved - a sometimes absorbing read about the lives of a writer, an artist, their wives and their children in NYC that is meant to be a thriller but I'm already a third of the way through it and have yet to reach the murder mystery part of the book. Hustvedt writes sparingly, much like her husband Paul Auster. Her prose is taut and lean, but her subject matter - artists and writers - is a little claustrophobic, self-indulgent and not fully-formed. Still, the son is now dead so I'm hoping the plot will shift up several gears, so I will persevere.

In recent weeks I have picked up a number of books now collecting dust on our bookshelves that I can't wait to read next: Vikram Seth's Two Lives, set in India, Israel, Palestine, post-war Germany and modern Britain and covering the true relationship between Seth's great uncle Shanti and Seth's German-Jewish great aunt Henry; J.M. Coetzee's Slow Man, set in Australia, about the relationship between a French-born invalid, his Croatian-born nurse and a celebrated novelist; Natsuo Kirino's Out, a crime novel about four women who work the night shift in a Tokyo factory packing lunch boxes; Ha Jin's Waiting, about the illicit love affair between a married Chinese army doctor with country ways and an educated modern nurse; Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, set at the height of Mao's Cultural Revolution, about the sons of two doctors sent away to re-education camp; Geling Yan's The Uninvited, about an unemployed factory worker who realises he can eat sumptuous meals if he pretends to be journalist and learns more than he cares about China's murky underworld; and Kiran Desai's Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, about Indian Sampath Chawla who is such a disappointment to his family and community that he takes refuge in a guava tree and is then mistaken as a holy man and seer. And of course, I'm dying to get my hands on Thomas Pynchon's new 1000+-word behemouth Against the Day that M bought yesterday and is now reading.

M will be back home later and he's left a pack of venison defrosting on the kitchen counter to make rich, dense venison and mushroom stew with fried mash potato balls for dinner. Right now, I better put the laundry on and then call my parents for a lovely long chat. Then I will have fish fingers and chips for lunch. M keeps me healthy. I eat so much more junk when he's not around. And yet he gets so many more colds than I do. Go figure.

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