A bout of strep kept me from posting, and online reading last week. Being stuck in bed was good for blasting through some fiction however.
Polished off Cloud Atlas, which was shortlisted for the Booker, but didn't win if I recall correctly. I can't even begin to do the novel justice, so go ahead and read that linked review, as I mostly concur with it. The book is very smart, startlingly so on occasion. Twice, I -- rather audibly -- said "OH!" reading the second half. The connections are so casually thrown to the reader, and yet so essential to the whole. Excellent writing, though ultimately a bit tiring... or maybe I was just running a fever.
The New Yorker printed the first chapter of the latest Ian McEwan novel, On Chesil Beach in December. If that doesn't grab you, then McEwan isn't for you. That's him, that's his voice. When you're reading him, you know you're reading him (which is not to say he's derivative of himself, repetitive, boring, Koontz-like. Every book stands very well, very solidly, on its own). If that tidbit did interest you, and you've not read McEwan, you should start. This moment. Run, don't walk. I recommend Atonement everywhere I go, and it's still my favourite of his. Chesil Beach is a slender novel, concentrating on character details, something I always appreciate. I do have a complaint with the strangely rushed dénouement, but I'll leave it to you to read the thing and tell me if I'm being too critical. It's just a bit over 200 pages. YOU CAN DO EET. *ahem* Also, I'm going to buy a copy for everyone who doesn't understand why Brits just can't emote, or talk about anything unpleasant. This and The Queen. Pip pip.
My love for Morrissey is no secret; the title of this blog is from "Sweet and Tender Hooligan." Spurred on by an excellent article in The Guardian: "Morrissey - so much to answer for," I've been revisiting The Smiths today. My only problem with the article is this quote at the end: "If you notice, it's really all blokes. Men are in love with him... not women." Well, that's news to me and my estrogen! Maybe it's different in the UK, and I've certainly known my share of "blokes" who've been mad about Moz. However, there's something very appealing to women about Morrissey, who developed in his solo career all the bad boy sexuality of Kenickie in Grease (a formative film for women my age [admit it, it was never about Danny]), yet held his sensitive asexual (ahem, sorry, gay, gay, gay) self up for us to see. I think the divide is really along the lines of Smiths era Morrissey, who was a skinny outcast, and solo Morrissey, who had a swaggar and a growl (that really came out on Strangeways). The unsporty, spotty teenage boy sits in his room and seeks to identify with Smiths Morrissey (though no teenage boy will ever be so erudite, pshaw!). The unpopular, Plath loving teenage girl sits in her room, and swoons over the camp exaggerated masculinity of Solo Morrissey, who's missing none of the wit and charm of earlier years. Those teenagers are always going to be somewhat alive in us, even after we turn 30. Salut, Moz. How difficult it is not to pack this page with everything you've ever said.
This is the way to market a book. Weeks after first seeing it, I'm still thinking about how clever it is, and it really does make me want to buy the thing. Hopefully the writing has the same slight silliness as the website, and all the creativity.