Meanwhile, I have - just in time - accomplished my goal of reading new authors from A-Z. An interesting experiment, I'm not sure I'll repeat it but it did open up some new authors that I wouldn't otherwise have tried. And a great way to pass the time in a library!
A - Andrea Ashworth - Once in a House on Fire
Dull as hell. 'I had a shit childhood but I'm really clever so I went to Oxford anyway'.
B - M C Beaton - Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam
Clearly chosen purely for the title :) It was actually pretty good - an unusual detective story.
C - Arthur C Clarke - 2001. Bloody brilliant.
D - Daniel Defoe - Moll Flanders. took me forever but really very good and highly readable given it was written in the 18th century when we were still sending convicts to the US :)
E - Jenny Eclair - Camberwell Beauty. Quick and light reading to recover from Moll Flanders while i got my head round my new job. Was Ok, nothing lifechanging.
F - Margaret Forster - Shadow Baby. Slow, predictable.
G - Lloyd and someone Grossmith - Diary of a Nobody - it's probably lost something of its bite but it was mildly diverting. Not entirely sure I got it.
H - H Rider Haggard - King Solomon's Mines - deeply shocking to a 21st century liberal eye. He happily talks about 'savages' with such superiority, but this was still quite liberal in its day. Hard to know what to do with that. Made it really interesting reading.
I - John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany - oh god WHY? I want to throw the book at the wall. Hope it gets better soon. Am halfway through though...
J - Henry James - Portrait of a Lady - yeah... um... pretty good, kinda went on a bit
K - Stephen King - Gerald's Game - my god. I was not expecting anything from this but I LOVED it, I was totally hooked! One of the real finds from this project, I will definitely be reading more, but I may never have picked up one of his books if I hadn't been stuck for a K!
L - Kathy Lette - Nip 'n' Tuck - I hated this book. It offended me quite deeply with its central message of 'man cheats on wife, wife needs beauty treatment to win him back'. I know it pretends to address this issue but by christ it fails. Grrrrrr.
M - Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces - a close friend's favourite book. I quite enjoyed it.
N - V S Naipaul - Half a Life - hmm. Yeah. All very beautiful and artistic and all, but that doesn't make it an enjoyable read.
O - Ben Okri - Astonishing the Gods - I'm really anti-books that believe the reader should be compelled to work to find any meaning in a book whatsoever. I'll meet an author halfway, but really, if you want to make it all deep and intellectual then you can stuff it up your arse, I'll stick to the books that are actually readable, ta.
P - Malcolm Pryce - Abersystwth Mon Amour - clearly chosen for the title! It was good fun - a film noire detective story set in rainy North Wales.
Q - Sarah Quigley - 50 days - well, it got me out of a spot with 'q' and was reasonably passable as a read.
R - Ruth Rendell - Murder Being Once Done - surprisingly old fashioned, I though. Frustrated me a bit with lack of good clues and plot.
S - Neville Shute - On the Beach. Wow. Probably in my top 5 books of all time. Certainly one of the very few that has ever made me cry. And really made me think. Wow.
T - Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Kinda shocking to read these days, but once you get used to it, it's a lot of fun.
U - John Updike - Claudius and Gertrude - quite a good idea, the backstory to Hamlet. Unfortunatley, you kinda already know where it's going, if you know Hamlet, and it didn't really build on that. But all right, I suppose.
V - Noel Virtue - The Redemption of Elsden Bird - a sad little story, beautifully written.
W - Edith Wharton - The House of Mirth - A very sad, not so little story, beautifully written.
X - Xu Xi - History's Fiction - series of short stories about Hong Kong. Kinda obsessed with being arty rather than entertaining/having any real content.
Y - Banana Yoshimoto - Asleep - who can resist someone called Banana? She writes beautifully as well, captivating stories of Japan with interesting characters and themes. I enjoyed this one.
Z - Emile Zola - For a Night of Love - I loved Zola! And not only for being 'Z' and freeing me from this blinkered book choice! He tells fantastic stories with such detail and realism. I loved it. Great way to end up at Z.
So what next? WAR AND PEACE!