I find myself regarding the ever growing pile of “books to read” and castigating myself for being such a slow reader. ‘What have you read recently? Really? You just slob in front of the telly.’ Well there is a lot of great stuff to watch at the moment, it’s true. Add in all the DVDs I got for Christmas (Ink, Primed, Lord Peter Wimsey complete box set) all the series I’ve become hooked on (The Returned, The Bridge, Spiral, Orphan Black) everything saved on the planner (Vera, Shetland, Canal Journeys – yes I know, but watching Timothy West mishandling 50 tons of boat is quite riveting)… And now we’ve got the Trollope on Sunday nights. All in all it’s a wonder I ever read anything.
But then look at what I have read in the last few weeks. Some brilliant, some good, and some just comfort food, the literary equivalent of hot chocolate. A few days in bed after a skiing accident, high on French painkillers saw me devouring Agatha Raisins, Agatha Christies as well as several Cotswold Killings – and who can resist PG Wodehouse when ill? Not just the Jeeves and Woosters, but also the Emsworths.
Yet like too much chocolate, you can overdose on cosy crime and early 20th century literature lite. Time for something contemporary. And the best read of 2016 so far has been David Levithan’s Every Day. Can you imagine reading a first person narrative and yet at the end, still being unclear as to whether the narrator is male or female? The best gender bending book I’ve read yet. The main character wakes up each day in a different body. Male, female, fat, thin, white, black… s/he never knows. It’s fascinating, brilliant. Do read it.
Carrie. Everyone has seen the film (or the remake) right? But have you ever read the book? I finally did so, and it’s an interesting construction. the story is told and retold through press reports, eye witness accounts, etc. Fascinating how Stephen King manages to break the rules of suspense (telling us what is going to happen before it happens) and yet it works. Inspired by that, I read another early King which has also been dramatised – The Dead Zone. Loved it too. His early works seem to have been better edited. Although I’m a big fan of The Stand and Under the Dome, I feel they could have done with a bit of impartial editing. Maybe some writers just get so big, their publishers are too overawed, or perhaps too frightened of rejection to suggest radical editing. It’s a pity. Harry Potter’s Book 4 onwards could have done with some editing but maybe JK was just too big by then.
It’s a shame because I am sure no writer would turn down a good editor. And on that note, perhaps it’s time to stop rambling and post this. All applicants for the post of editor, more than welcome.

 

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