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So the reading slump that I have been in for as long as I can remember is still with me and sees no signs of abating. I’m working on the basis that it’s best not to force the issue which is why my lovely brand new copy of Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch is sitting untouched on my desk. I’ve been looking forward to this coming out ever since I read Rivers of London when I was ill earlier this year and got a copy as soon as I could largely to make Silvery Dude speechless with envy (and I succeeded in that at least). But now I’m actually scared to pick it up in case it’s not powerful enough to overcome The Slump. Quite sad really.
Anyway, Moon over Soho isn’t the only book I’m managing not to read at the moment, there are several others:
- Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr – this is a re-read of the first three Nazi-era crime novels, designed to prepare me for picking up the sequels which the Book God now has and thoroughly recommends. Progress so far: 8.5%
- The Thirties: An Intimate History by Juliet Gardiner – continuing my mild obsession with the period between the two World Wars. Progress so far: 13%
- The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones – reading this as a memorial to DWJ but also as part of the Once Upon a Time challenge. Progress so far: 34%
- Snow White and the Seven Samurai by Tom Holt – funny, fantasy stuff so ideal for OUAT but stalled. Progress so far: 16%
- How Not to Grow Up by Richard Herring – memoir by one of my favourite funny people. Progress so far: 36%
A bit depressing really but not insurmountable and you never know, although I didn’t read much over Easter weekend we have another Bank Holiday next weekend, and once I’ve feasted upon the delights of the Royal Wedding on Friday morning I may just curl up in a chair with something good to read and The Slump may be defeated.
Oh and the picture at the top of the post is “Pavonia” by Frederic Leighton which is being used as the poster image for an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum which the Book God and I went to on Saturday afternoon – The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900. Well worth a visit if you are in London and enjoy beautiful things.
Many of you will know that my admiration for Joyce Carol Oates is deeply held and long-standing; I buy (almost) everything she publishes and particularly look out for anything non-fictional which might give an insight into one of the most remarkable authors in terms of quality and productivity. I know I’m gushing a bit but I really do think she’s fabulous. Which is why I was really looking forward (if that’s the word) to her memoir of widowhood. I knew that her husband of many years had died suddenly and was intrigued that she had decided to write about something so personal so soon after the event.
Now, widowhood is one of those things that flutters about in the back of my mind from time to time; the Book God is eleven years older than me and statistically more likely to die before I do so I have occasionally had thoughts about what being a widow would be like (not pleasant), something that has happened more frequently recently as the Book God gets ready to retire at the beginning of June. So reading A Widow’s Story was a mixture of wanting to know something about one of my heroes plus trying to get an idea of what might be in store for me in what I hope will be the far distant future.
This book is not for everyone. JCO’s grief and pain is raw and immediate, and although the writing is as wonderful and vivid as always the content is so upsetting that I found myself only able to read in small chunks (and I can say without any doubt that this is not a book for bedtime reading), so it took me a long time to finish it and even longer to feel that I was able to write about it.
I learned that no matter how prepared you think you might be for the worst that can happen, you never actually are. I learned that even the most outwardly competent of people can fall apart inside while still keeping the show on the road. And of course, I learned that although the support of friends and family are important, the only person who can get you through something like this is yourself.
You might say that none of this is new and you are probably right, but these are things worth repeating.
So a book that is to be experienced and in my case admired rather than enjoyed, but a worthwhile reading experience.