Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More than half the year gone! Vicky’s three week holiday over in a flash. It is startling how quickly time is now flying. Douglas and I have gone on a diet. This is the third day. I think it is a Transylvanian diet for vampire slayers as whoever wrote it spelt steak ‘stake.’

The diet consists mainly of stake - whoops! steak, ham, lettuce and eggs. In other words 99% protein, almost the Atkins diet really. He got it off the internet. It’s quite amazing now what one can get off the internet, and very depressing. The amount of information on books, printing, publishing; there are hundreds, no thousands of writers producing thousands of books in English and how do you get anyone interested enough to buy the ones you produce yourself, starting with publishers in their ivory towers – money money money as the song goes, probably more than one. Of course one wants to make money but on misery memoirs? Chick lit? Now you see them, now you don’t Celebs? It was incredible that Wayne Rooney was paid £5000000 for a possible three books on his eighteen year old life and now a tennis player still wet behind the ears gets a whopping £75000 advance. Does that include the ghost writer’s fee? Meanwhile what is happening in the world of literature? Well … I struggled through Ian McEwen’s Saturday, a book so portentous, pretentious and boring it left me with absolutely no desire to read anything else by this author despite the highest praise he has received, especially I gather for Atonement so I will probably get the film on DVD.

Starting to go through the April/May CULTURES I see Jeffrey Archer’s new book has received a panning and in its first week went right to the top of the best seller list.. Po po po! as the Greeks say. I once tried to read an Archer novel that appeared to me to have been written by a not too bright sixth former so, again, there’s never been any desire to read another. Same applies to Dan Brown. Okay so okay, whatever the quality of their writing these guys are al laughing their various ways to their various banks and no doubt in line for prestigious prizes which still doesn’t explain their popularity. Oh, I admit The Da Vinci Code is a fantastic page turner (Douglas nearly suffered sunstroke sitting on the harbour in Xania whilst he was turning those pages) but the writing is crap. There’s no other word for it. Don’t know what editors are paid for these days. Am reading an American crime novel at the moment one chapter of which starts of “She met him at the door wearing an apron.” What kind of aprons do doors prefer to wear I wonder? Another book on Shakespeare (how man books on Shakespeare do we need?) refers to Hackney carriages in Elizabethan London. Oh, boy! There’s an anachronism for you.

But just in case all this sounds too much like sour grapes, what books have I enjoyed? Whose writing do I love? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Shardlake novels by C.J. Sansom. I’ve actually enjoyed the Harry Potter books; yes, all of them bar one, which I found a wee bit over complicated and unnecessarily so. I was totally enraptured by the Irish author Jamie O Neill’s At Swim Two Boys and the South African writer’s Embrace. I loved the Colleen McCullough Roman novels and am a terrific fan of Donna Leon and her Venetian detective Commissario Guido Brunetti and Boris Akunin’s Russian detective, Fandorin. There are more of course but these are the ones that spring immediately to mind.

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