Thursday, 31 January 2013

In which I read through January

It’s a slightly odd phenomenon that I forever seem to best stick to my New Year’s resolutions a whole year after I’ve made them. I managed 2009’s in 2010; I blogged more in 2011 than I did in 2010, when I resolved to; 2011 I resolved not to go on dates – and, well, we know where that got me. And so it only seems fitting that this year, I seem to be carrying out 2012’s resolution to finish more books than I abandon at page 100. So far, and entirely out of character, I’ve abandoned none and finished five, which is an achievement worth celebrating…

1. Title: Super Sad True Love Story
Author: Gary Shteyngart
Recommended by: @matt_muir, and bought at Foyles on the South Bank.
Read: End Dec 2012 – 4 Jan 2013

An unlikely love story between the son of Russian immigrants, and the daughter of Korean, set in a dystopian America of the future. Satirical and disturbing, with some slightly terrifying prescience about the names of burger chains. Not entirely my cup of tea – I didn’t care about the characters enough to be really, madly invested in them, but as a read out of my usual comfort zone, worth doing. Score: 6.5/10

2. Title: It’s Classified
Author: Nicole Wallace
Recommended by: I can’t remember. I think I saw an interview with Wallace after something nuts that Sarah Palin did. A Christmas present from Ma Blonde.
Read: 5 – 8 Jan

A novel set in a White House where the main players are women and the VP sounds like she’s not-very-loosely based on Sarah Palin (Wallace is her ex-Chief of Staff). It’s easy to read, and keeps the attention, and West Wing nuts will probably enjoy the small, familiar details. Sadly the writing isn’t good, and there could have been more made of the plot – so much potential, but not fulfilled.
Score: 6.5/10

3. Title: Heartburn
Author: Nora Ephron
Recommended by: everyone when it was announced Ephron had died. A Christmas present from Ma Blonde.
Read: 8 – 12 Jan

It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. I want to write just like this.
Score: 9/10

4. Title: I, Lucifer
Author: Glen Duncan
Recommended by: @matt_muir, who kindly provided me with his spare copy too, for the bargain price of a Sherbert Dip Dab
Read: 13 – 21 Jan

The tale of the fall of Lucifer – told from his perspective. Lucifer takes on human form for a month as part of a deal with God. Blackly funny, and sometimes horribly unsettling.
Score: 7/10

5. Title: Tigers in Red Weather
Author: Lisa Klaussman
Recommended by: I can’t remember. I think I saw it reviewed in a Sunday paper ages ago, and a Christmas present from Ma Blonde
Read: 21 – 30 Jan

Took me a while to get into, but easy to read and very well-written with some brilliant turns of phrase. It has faint overtones of Mad Men and Revolutionary Road – a period piece, with bleakness under the glamour. A higher-brow-than-average beach read.
Score: 7/10


Mike said...

You gave Nora Ephron's Heartburn a 9/10 for something you described by saying "It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. I want to write just like this."

So what does it take to get a 10/10...or is that not possible? If it is, what has achieved it?

Blonde said...

Mike: that is an entirely fair question. A 10/10 would have to be a work of flawless perfection which, although I loved Heartburn, I don't think it quite was. I'm not sure I've ever read a 10/10 book so far, although a couple of short pieces by Simon Rich in the New Yorker have come close...

Mike said...

And, of course, anything by TW.

Blonde said...

Mike: But of course, that goes without saying.

Anonymous said...

TIRW: "Took me a while to get into, but easy to read and very well-written with some brilliant turns of phrase."

My thoughts exactly. I wish I had noted some of her sentences down. Not that I could have been that eloquent, but they felt like they'd been taken out of my head they seemed so spot on.

- Voneron x

nuttycow said...

Thanks for this Blonde. My 8 hour plane ride just got a little shorter :)

hannahswiv said...

I had a similar reaction to Super Sad True Love Story - though it fits in with a lot of my usual reading material. I thought it was smart and clever, and had some interesting ideas, but it wasn't quite sharp or funny enough to be a really great satire, which would have made up for me hating everyone in it.

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