An Update of Sorts

Well, the weekend is usually the only time that I get to post any reviews—but another one has passed where I’ve been unable to post anything. What with work commitments, the European Championships and the EU Referendum (and its aftermath) it’s been nigh impossible to find the time. But, I have been reading, and reading some good books as well. I’ve currently started Volume 7 of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, The Valley of Bones, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This series of twelve novels has really impressed me and made me wonder how it was that I hadn’t even heard of it until relatively recently. It was only when I was reading Proust that I first became aware of this novel.

I had initially hoped that 2016 was going to be a year in which I read a lot of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages; one such book is Gabriel Chevallier’s Clochemerle which I have read recently; I don’t know where I first heard of it but I just loved the sound of it—a political feud in a French village over the installation of a public urinal. I still hope to post on it soon but as time passes the likelihood of this diminishes. It wasn’t quite as good as I though it would be but it was still an enjoyable read. A T.V. series was produced in the 1970s which was scripted by Galton & Simpson; I now have a copy on DVD and can’t wait to watch it. There were also another couple of Clochemerle sequels that I plan to read soon.

I had intended to post a review of the Penguin collection of two of Thomas Ligotti’s short story collections, which combined Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe: His Life and Works. I read this as part of a GoodReads group for Gothic Literature, but very few people were interested enough to read along, which was a shame because the stories were generally good. Ligotti’s style was influenced by Lovecraft and Poe but he introduced his own take on these themes of cosmic horror. Some of them were just damn weird. Take, for instance, the story called The Glamour, a Lynchian story, where the narrator describes his nighttime wanderings where he ends up in a seedy, derelict movie theatre where everything seems to be covered in a net of writhing hair.

I continued to stare at the empty seat because my sensation of a vibrant presence there was unrelieved. And in my staring I perceived that the fabric of the seat, the inner webbing of swirling fibers, had composed a pattern in the image of a face—an old woman’s face with an expression of avid malignance—floating amidst wild shocks of twisting hair.

And the film they show at this cinema is some weird abstract impressionist film vaguely resembling a microscopic close-up of some fleshy substance—the film guides the viewer ‘through a catacomb of putrid chambers and cloisters’. All the while hairs from the chairs are seething and tugging at the narrator. Some of the stories are stranger still. The quality varies but Ligotti is worth checking out.

I finished Tomás González’s In the Beginning Was the Sea last week, and although I enjoyed the book, I doubt I’ll end up posting a review. It’s worth checking out Guy’s review, which is where I first heard of the book. Basically, set in Columbia, a couple decide to leave the city and live in the country but neither are particularly suitable people for such a challenge.

I’ve tried reading more of Céline’s Trifles for a Massacre but it’s too depressing a read, so I may have to abandon it. I have read about 40% of the book which is probably enough.

I had made some half-arsed plans to read a whole load of social history books on Great Britain. I had hoped to concentrate on late 18th Century and post WWII but my interest in this project hit the buffers when I started to read Jenny Uglow’s In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars 1793-1815, a book that had greatly appealed to me, but which actually just bored me stiff. I had hoped to understand what Britons thought of events that were going on in France, and Europe, but it was just a dull collection of articles on aspects of life in Britain with each chapter concentrating in detail on a particular subject with no real attempt at synthesis. There was so much emphasis on first-hand records that it just seemed like a collection of quotes and descriptions of a random collection of people’s lives. Other reviewers on GoodReads seem to love it but I just found it incredibly dull. Oh well. I now have little interest to read more, despite having many books earmarked for future reads.

As mentioned earlier, I’m still hoping to concentrate more on books that have been on my TBR for a while and to read more non-fiction, especially on topics that I’ve been meaning to read about for ages; I feel that I have been too easily distracted in the past and hope to change that in the future, but before that there’s another Euro match to watch….more distractions…



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12 responses to “An Update of Sorts

  1. Life gets in the way of reading and blogging sometimes – but if you will watch football what do you expect? 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been rather wrapped up in the football as well, especially now that we’re into the business end of the tournament. Glad to hear that the Powell series is living up to expectations. I have high hopes of making a start on it at some point in the next couple of years. If only I could free up a little more time…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the length of ‘Dance’ because once you’re into it you’ll just want to continue.


  3. It’s hard to believe that the person who wrote the Clochmerle series is the same author of Fear (world war 1 frontline experiences). Hope you’ll be cheering on Wales on Wednesday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Yes, I’d like to see Wales do well, or rather, even better than they already have….and luckily enough Portugal look beatable.

      I would like to know more about Chevallier. I read Fear a year or so ago and wonder if he was content to get the war out of his system with that book, thus allowing him to then concentrate on other topics. I have recently blogged about Céline, who was of the same generation to Chevallier, but for whom things took a different course. Intriguing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel that I am forever bogged down with not enough time to read or post blog entries. My TBR is more then enough to consume the remainder of my life.

    Though social history can be fascinating, I find that some of it can be terribly dull.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      I’m also beginning to realise that a lot of social history is a bit dull when taken on its own. I quite like social history when included as part of a more general history though.


  5. Well it sounds as though you’ve been busy.
    Good progress afoot with the Powell series which I intend to get to at some point.
    I saw that series when it aired by the way. Enjoyed it at the time but I wonder how it’s aged.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan

      Thanks Guy. I’m really enjoying the Powell series. I have the TV adaption from 1997 which I wouldn’t have thought would be too dated. I know people that have watched and enjoyed it. Or did you mean the Clochemerle series? After reading the book I could see how it could be adapted by G&S and, dare I say, improved upon. Clochemerle may be a little dated now…we’ll see.


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