Wednesday, October 18, 2006

reading

This evening I read a good book, it's by MJ Hyland and is called 'Carry me Down'. Where some people like to read deeply, I seem to favour reading quickly, and while this can be extremely enjoyable, it also can be expensive.

Until I gave up smoking except on the rare ocassion when I do, I thought nothing of spending over six euro on a packet of twenty cigarettes, which I would chuff merrily in a day or two or three.

This habit of reading is obviously more positive to my health, and while you might argue the environment suffers as I chug my way through tree after tree, I would counter attack that these tomes provide ample insulation in my little house.

Still, reading at my current speed is more expensive than smoking - I bought Arthur and George late last week, and the aforementioned book today. I also am nearly finished a biography of Clive James (I intersperse this with other books - Clive is funny, yet I'm strangely repelled by his honest description of masturbating as a schoolboy, and have to take a break every fifty or so pages). In between I devoured many papers and magazines. There is no sating this appetite for reading at the moment.

I find it comes in waves too, sometimes I will lug a book around for weeks, so enamoured am I by the smells and intrigue of the real world. Leaves will tumble from trees rather than gummed binders, and I will meet with friends for laughs rather than uncover plots and hidden truths.

A month and a half ago, I was in a twilight created by Philip Roth, reading The Plot against America, American Pastoral and My Life as a Man over a few weeks. Then just because I felt like it, I stayed in America (north and south) reading the aptly named 'Indecision' for that is what I felt, and I bought the book on impulse.

Of course, nobody can stay in America for too long without a visa, and so I find myself back in old Europe with the intriguing 'Arthur and George' which is a semi real/fiction account of Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji's childhood and subsequent intertwinned moment in history. I thought it was an extremely well written, quite literary romp. And boy do I like a good story. I've stayed in Europe with today's book also, and even travelled home to Ireland for this one.

Is there something disconcerting about transcending continents and decades so quickly? I feel completely spazzed after finishing Carry Me Down a few minutes ago. MJ Hyland travels from Wexford to Ballymun, both places I'm familiar with, and she uses an eleven year old boy as our guide. I found Patrick McCabe's Butcher Boy brought to mind. Not to say Hyland is derivative, rather she has her own style of writing, which is beautiful, poetic and flowing.

I was terribly impressed, and possible bought the book, based on an endorsement by JM Coetzee on the cover. I love the two Coetzee books I've read - Disgrace and Youth - I feel that he speaks honestly, rather like Roth. Albeit that they speak from two different continents - Africa and USA respectively.

Who knows where I'll travel to with my next book - Margaret Atwood has a nice one out, except as it is hardback I don't know if I can stretch to it on my budget. Toni Morrison was recommended also, maybe I'll try her. Although I have been going through a period fetish reading Somerset Maugham, so who knows maybe they have another of his if I search far and wide enough in the book shops in town...

I love reading, I love writing. But I love reading more.

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