I started the summer by reading a beloved book and finishing some half-read ones. Its been a hectic few months and my attention span hasn’t been the greatest, nor have I had the time for reading that I would have liked. Oh well, being stuck in the middle of nowhere and with weather that doesn’t allow for anything but sitting indoors (and necessitates getting a fire going because of 12 degrees Celsius outside) I had no more excuses. It feels good to start the summer reads with a clean slate. This is what I read and a few of my thoughts in no particular order.
The Summer book by Tove Jansson
No summer without reading this gem of a book. I have a hard time reviewing it as it is so dear to me and is interwoven with the memory of reading it. That is one of the joys of rereading; you grow with a book and see different things and become aware of how much of a book can actually be about your own perception. I know many other who love this bitter sweet collection of small stories that together form the narrative about Sophia and her grandmother, and the summer spent on a small island.
Butcher’s crossing by John Williams
With this I have read the three books available by Williams and Stoner remains my favorite, with Augustus as a second but that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. This is a very good read and Williams does here what he “always” does ; tell the story of rather passive men that just let life happen to them (or in the case of Augustus half the book is that, then Octavian changes his name and begins his long reign). Anyways it was a solid book.
Short stories by Chekov
It’s Chekov but I think, having read a few bits and bobs of his, that I prefer him as playwright. In my head I can almost visualize all of this would look on stage (most of it very good of course) but it doesn’t really work as short stories. Too abrupt somehow. But it was a short book. Mostly it made me try to find a copy of The seagull which I’ve been meaning to read for ages.
Across the Big blue sea by Katja Meier
This was sent to me by the author herself as she saw on IG that have an interest in literature about on the refugee issue (in fact I have an interest in most issues). Meier has written about her time working with women from Nigeria to Italy. What is different with that group is that it’s a group that has been coming for over 15 years and many of the women end up in prostitution. There seems to be a rather well-established network that sadly maintains itself in this, where some of the women who have been victims of trafficking end up tricking other women into the same trap. And just shaming the women or saying that it’s wrong doesn’t help. An insightful read of the joys and sorrows of trying to make the world a better place.
A place of greater safety by Hilary Mantel
Speaking of people who tried to make the world a better place, how about 870 pages about Robespierre and friends? This is Dickensian in length and level of detail, the shadow of A tale of two cities obviously looms over it (i.e. centered around the French Revolution). I will say that the beginning and end are the best, Mantel really could have cut out a fair bit in the middle. This was published in 1992 and she hadn’t yet reached that “Two times the Manbooker-winner” level of writing but absolutely had grasped the form of the historical novel. I read this to satisfy the craving from the last installment in the Cromwell-trilogy and if you haven’t read those; start there. I will also mention her memoirs Giving up the ghost that I adored last year. And then you could squeeze in The assassination of Margaret Thatcher and other stories. Then read this. It’s very good, but not great.