Digging for treasure

More vague snippets, in lieu of writing anything in-depth (which seems impossible in this humid weather).

  • I spent yesterday reading the final few hundred pages of The Children’s Book. I felt bereft when I finished, and still do now. It is a beautiful, rich book. There are many characters, all of whom I either cared deeply about or felt strongly about in another way; who (mostly) have strong motivations and passions of their own; and who are set against richly detailed political, social and cultural backdrops. I’m finding it very difficult to try to describe it in a few sentences. It’s just the kind of book that I’m very grateful exists.
  • I also finished Wolf Hall. I liked and admired it very much. Again, especially as I finished it a while ago, I’m having difficulty trying to sum it up. My lasting impression now is of the clarity and accessibility of Mantel’s style. Mantel weaves masses of research and the burden of a much-studied historical story into an informal, contemporary narrative, which is a huge achievement. Here‘s a review I like, which expresses many of the things I thought about the book.
  • I also read Holes, which is short and perfectly formed. It is immaculately plotted. It’s also highly imaginative and idiosyncratic – digging holes in the desert, an outlaw called Kissin’ Kate Barlow, spiced pears, and onions are some of the important parts of the story. It’s also a sad book, about injustice and outsiders. And, best of all, it features a character called Mr. Sir.
  • I’m now reading The Dream Life of Sukhanov, which flows well. It’s nice to read a newish debut novel which doesn’t seem stripped down. Sometimes I feel that contemporary novels focus too much on succinctness, and sometimes that means a voice, or some other spark, is lost. Sukhanov is more sumptuous than that. It seems to remind me of things I read long ago.
  • BBC 6 Music has been saved! Some comments on this article suggest that it was all just a publicity stunt to gain more listeners. I’m not sure I believe that; but then again, it does sound plausible. Either way, though, it’s excellent news.
  • I finally have a possible theatre trip on the horizon: Enron at Richmond Theatre in September. The overall impression I got from reviews of the play when it was at the Royal Court and in the West End was that it was good, but not that good. But I’m still going to see it, if I can, out of desperation to see something. This at the Orange Tree looks interesting, too.
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