"I'm writing bout the / Book I read / I have to sing about the / Book I read / I'm embarrassed to admit it hit the soft spot in my heart / When I found out you wrote the / Book I read so" Talking Heads.
I've been very lucky in my reading choices over the past few weeks. I'm not so precious about novels any longer that I have to read to the end even if the novel is boring me, but I've finished all of these recently:
The Good Life by Jay McInerney. In Manhattan's TriBeCa, Corrine and Russell have survived separation, infertility, and the birth of their twins via a sister's egg. On the Upper East Side, Luke has got off the wealth accumulation merry-go-round and is seeking his purpose in life in the slow lane, much to the horror of his high-living wife. Then, on a bright September morning in 2001, a plane hurtles into one of the Twin Towers and the lives of these two couples collide. A searing, well-paced, well-judged novel of love and loss in moneyed Manhattan and finding one's way through catastrophe.
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. The Grime sisters of New York would have had happy lives had their parents not divorced. Over four decades, Sarah and Emily grow into very different women. Sarah settles for a suburban marriage while Emily flits from one man to another in the city. This being a Yates novel, neither of them are very happy in their choices. A nuanced yet unflinching and unsentimental portrayal of regret, disappointment and loneliness.
The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. Another New York novel. Nathan is recovering from lung cancer, divorced and estranged from his only daughter; his nephew Tom is on an extended hiatus from his lacklustre academic career and life in general. When they both stumble upon each other in a Brooklyn neighbourhood, their lives intertwine in funny, warm and tender ways and together they become embroiled in mystery, intrigue and fraud. This is a tale of broken dreams and of human folly so brilliantly written that as the last pages came into view, I read slower and slower. Auster knows how to write deftly-plotted literature and this has joined my list of all time favourite novels.
Naoko by Keigo Higashino. Factory worker Heisuke works hard to provide for his beloved wife Naoko and young daughter Monami. So when he learns they have become involved in a catastrophic bus crash, his content and placid life is rocked to its core. His wife is dead; his daughter is in a coma. Except that when his daughter awakes, it is Naoko's personality and memories that live on. Well-paced, simply written and emotionally charged, I read the ending on the Tube tonight and began to cry. An amazing discovery considering I picked this up at Daunt Books in Marylebone on a whim because the cover was so eye-catching.
I love having piles of unread novels on my bookshelves - the variety makes it easy to pick a book depending on mood. In my pile now? The new Haruki Murakami, the new William Gibson (which M is reading now), a Tokyo crime thriller, a Mumbai crime thriller, some Japanese short stories, some modern Indian and American literature, and some Indian chick lit.
What are you reading and what's in your "to read" pile now?