Friday, August 20, 2010

Tell Me a Story...

My “literary” tastes are extremely changeable – which is perhaps why I started so many books I didn’t finish. My attention was easily drawn to something I’d rather be reading than what I’d begun.

The one consistent thing about the books I enjoy is the telling of a “good story”. I have little patience with books that are primarily a vehicle to show off the writer’s skill with language. A writer may have the most beautiful way with words – but if I’m continually being drawn back to a beautiful sentence at the expense of the flow of the story, my interest won’t be maintained.

Those kinds of writers are also a discouragement to the ambition to write. They make that ambition seem unattainable. I much prefer those deceptive books that make writing SEEM easy and natural while telling an enjoyable story. At least they give me encouragement to try, and by the time I realise the extent of the deceit, I’ve had a productive and enjoyable time giving it a go.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Top 3 Choices

Best of the books so far (up to 11 August 2010)

Of the books I’ve read since starting this blog, the following are my top three fiction and top three non-fiction titles.

Fiction (in order of preference):
Worldshaker, Richard Harland
Slam, Nick Hornby
Blackout, Connie Willis.

Non Fiction (no particular order)
Foxeys Hangout, Cathie Gowdie
Animal Vegetable Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
Our Hands Are Stained With Blood, Michael Brown

Honourable mentions.
A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin
Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rediscovering Nick

I have rediscovered Nick Hornby.

On the weekend I bought An Education on DVD. Hornby wrote the screenplay for which he received an Oscar nomination. I haven’t had time to watch the film yet, but I did start reading his “first teenage novel” Slam last night and have now almost finished it.

My introduction to Hornby was Fever Pitch. I can’t remember now whether I read his book or saw the film first. I think it may have been the book. Fever Pitch was a memoir centred on Hornby’s relationship with English football team Arsenal. It helped revive some of my own childhood memories of going to the football with my Dad but I didn’t have the chance of attaining the same kind of obsession as Hornby. I left England when I was 13 and the last football game I attended was on my birthday in 1971. It was never the same again. My team, Stoke City didn’t have the profile of an Arsenal or a Man United, so it was hard to keep in touch from the other side of the world. However, they did beat Chelsea to win the League Cup, and not long after toured Australia. I was lucky enough to see them play in Sydney but remember nothing of the match.

And hidden in that last paragraph is a key to why I enjoy Hornby’s writing. He manages to add a degree of familiarity to his stories. As if I’ve ALMOST experienced what his characters are going through. It’s not in the details. Their stories are not like my own – but I can imagine that they COULD have been.