Friday, August 04, 2006

Illness and books

Augh. Sorry, guys. I’ve been ill. I’m still ill, but at least now I’m ill at work, complete with internet connection. Plus I sound like Marlene Dietrich, which is a plus.

After spending two days indoors, I went stir-crazy and demanded we go out for Thai food last night. I employed the extremely sensible and well-thought-through technique of drinking enough wine that I forgot about how sore my throat was, and then talked and laughed a lot. I’m not a doctor, but I suspect that may have contributed to my current condition. It’s all a bit pathetic, really: I have a cough, but my throat is so sore that coughing is painful. My compromise is to make completely ineffectual, sad little “ahe, ahe” coughing noises that make people roll their eyes.

I was hoping that by dragging myself into work I’d get sympathy, but no such luck. My boss is taking great delight in asking me something, and then when I reply in a croaky whisper, saying “What? What’s that? Speak up, I can’t hear you!”. The Floydophile (remember him? The guy who decided to go on a Women Need To Lower Their Standards rant the other day?) is throwing hilarious ripostes my way such as “Oh, so you can’t yell at your husband for a few days, huh?” which…why is that funny? And what does one say in response? I realise the All Women Are Shrieking Harpies school of “humour” is an old and established one, but on what planet is this an appropriate thing to say to me?

Sorry, this is dull. Illness; neither funny nor entertaining. Which gives me the perfect segue to something else that is neither funny nor entertaining:

Wednesday Book Reviews: now on a Friday!

Edna O’Brien: The Country Girls (List book 204)

Stuffed full of predictable Irish characters; the hard-drinking, hard-hitting father, the martyred and early-dying mother, the quasi-pedophiliac love interest (okay, I have no idea if that’s a clichéd Irish character. It’s still pretty creepy) and the doomed best friend. That said, it’s neither self-pitying nor does it follow the usual predictable coming-of-age pattern. Liked it.

John Irving: A Widow for One Year

I have a mixed relationship with Irving. Sometimes he’s sententious, sometimes hilarious, and I can’t help wonder whether his ostensible concern for women masks a desire to write about Bad Things happening to them. Therefore I had no idea what to expect from Widow.

And wow. I loved it. Irving has a way of weaving tragedy and even melodrama into a plot without the reader feeling as if the entire story was constructed to allow that scene to happen. The book is about dealing with loss and grief, and the stories that people spin in order to make sense of their worlds. And it’s funny and well-paced and addictive, and go read it.

Kazuro Ishiguro – Remains of the Day (List book 205)

I hate reading books when I’ve already seen the film, especially when the film is good. When a writer describes something in beautiful spare prose I don’t want to flash back to the scene in the film.

Nevertheless, I recommend this - the writing is exquisite - but not if you’re feeling fragile about your own path in life. The tragedy creeps over you as you read, and I’m not one to get all angsty about the meaning of existence but goddamn.


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