Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Satisfaction of Finishing a Book

KayKay forwarded a really nice piece from John Connolly's blog about the satisfaction of finishing a book. His thoughts after finishing and enjoying Wilbur Smith's River God:

I ... felt a degree of satisfaction as I closed the book and put it to one side. There, I thought: another book read, and a lengthy one at that. For a moment, I was one step closer to reading every book in my house, albeit a step forwards that would soon be nullified. River God will probably go to my local Oxfam shop, and there is now a space where it once sat on my bookshelves, a space that can be occupied by a new book as soon as I find the time to amble into one of my native city's many bookstores.

Alas, it is a satisfaction I'm very far from feeling this week. I've never been so part way through so many books.

Believe it or not I'm still reading my first book from the TBR Challenge Martin Amis' Money, but I'm well past half way which is not bad.

I bought the book because I thought I oughta. Had heard stories of Amis being obnoxious and his protagonist is obsessed with ... yes, filthy lucre, and you can't get more crass than that.

Didn't expect to be laughing myself stupid so often, delighting in the bad-boy voice (Amir Hafizi has to read this! making a mental note to pass him my scrunched up pizza-decorated copy when I buy a shiny new one), the dialogue, and the craft of every sentence.

The book is set during the Summer of the Charles and Di wedding and the riots which swept the country. The novel captures the early 80's and Thatcher's Britain so well.

It isn't my first Amis, because I read Time's Arrow years back. That's a bit of clever writing, a whole novel told in reverse chronological order from the protagonist's death to his birth. (Try imagining eating backwards for e.g. ... but that's not the worst). Just like a movie being rewound.

I've got to read The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy because Kaykay said so.

Okay then, it's our book club choice and the meeting is next week. Crime fiction so isn't my thing. And this is very much a sweat soaked testosterone drenched bloke book. But it is very well written and I'm not a quitter. So.

I'm also trying to read Yang-May Ooi's Mind Game before Saturday and the Breakfast for Litbloggers thing at MPH and then the readings at Seksan's.

Thrillers aren't my thing either. When I was in Nigeria I overdosed on them because they were the only books available, thanks to my neighbour.

Anyway, am finding Yang-May's novel (which I managed to borrow from my friend Soo Choon) an intriguing read. I appreciate the contemporary Malaysian setting, and find the Asian Values Alliance, bent on world domination, most sinister. And I like that its an unashamedly lesbian love-story!

Have started reading Camilla Gibbs Sweetness in the Belly as I will be interviewing the author when she comes for the KL Literary Festival at the end of March so this is homework, but nice homework as I am enjoying its African setting.

So a lot of books hanging halfway ...

Oh yes, I did finish one book, Richard Posners Little Book of Plagiarism. A legal mind tackles who did and who did not plagiarise in literary history. (Shakespeare gets off the hook you'll be pleased to know!) and just what constitutes plagiarism in the legal context. It's an extremely readable guide, fascinating for litbuffs and invaluable for academics.

One little quote I'll leave you with:

The reader has to care about being deceived about authorial identity in order for deceit to cross the line to fraud and thus constitute plagiarism.

That's right. The ball is in the reader's court.

And talking of readers, what have you finished, and what have you not?


Chet said...

I came into 2007 partway through When Red Is Black by Qiu Xiaolong, after which I started and finished Home by Manju Kapur, and now I'm reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. Three very different books, three very different writers.

I'm reading more than I did last year. I found the right lighting that doesn't hurt my aging eyes.

The Great Swifty said...

I've been pretty slow since I came back to Perth. Too many distractions.

Attempting to finish Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon (which I bought LOOOOONG AGO), Bulgakov's Master And The Margarita (which I bought last year) and this Tagore's collection of short stories (... which I bought during my trip in India last month)

Due to the fact that I've tried reading so many at once, I haven't been able to finish it. I haven't gone through such a long drought (of not finishing a novel) in a while.

BTW: Hehe, free enough to come to Central Market Annexe at 8:30pm? Girl Disconnected's gonna get screened :D

fei said...

Hi Sharon,

What a coincidence! I just bought Camilla Gibbs's Sweetness in the Belly at Xcess Book right before I went back for CNY hoiday. I never heard of her, but I was curious about the book after I read the introduction. But I haven't start with the book yet, still reading Zadie Smith's White Teeth, half way through, and enjoy the book very much.

KayKay said...

Re-Read The Black Dahlia naturally for the book club meet next week.
Finished The Prince Of Fire by Daniel Silva, still mid-way through More Twisted, the second short story collection from Jeffery Deaver, a quarter way through Destination:Morgue, James Ellroy's anthology of essays and short stories.Started Matthew Pearl's debut book The Dante Club but quickly digressed to his second
novel The Poe Shadow since it deals with Edgar Allan Poe, a writer I admire the way I admire all sick,twisted bastards.

Greenbottle said...

currently reading 'the autobiography of alice b toklas ' by getrude stein...a great book for art lovers as the book is all about getrude stein's life and all the famous artists that she befriends -picasso, mattise etc...buying cezanne from the famous art dealer vollard etc etc...

and so happended that i was in chicago last week and they have this excellent exhibition about the dealer vollard 'cezanne to picasso' at chicago institute of art ...see all those pictures that originally sold through vollard ...and finally see the famous seurat's la grande jatte at chicago inst permanent collection and the iconic american gothic and so many other familiar pictures can be ok sometimes (especially if you're gallivanting all over the globe on company expense )...