Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Happy New Year!

It seems forever ago since I packed everything away for Christmas! It was great to spend the time chilling out and doing absolutely NO WORK but it’s also rather nice to be back, kick-starting the old routine. It’s especially nice to get back to discover I have won an award for this blog! Thank you, Mary. You’re quite wrong (as you can see) about not mentioning my award. I’m chuffed to bits.

I received some great books for Christmas, and also caught up with a couple of old ones on my ‘to read’ pile. One such book was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It has been gathering dust for about a year and when I finally got round to reading it I was furious with myself for not reading it sooner. I thought it was breathtaking. Unputdownable. I loved it so much I rushed out and bought a hardback copy of McCarthy’s earlier novel No Country for Old Men. A different kind of novel to The Road but the same themes come shining through. Isn’t it great when you discover a ‘new’ author? How come I’d never read any Cormac McCarthy before?

I also enjoyed Robert Harris’s The Ghost. It was great fun working out the real-life alter-egos of his characters (even though Harris insists – tongue firmly in cheek – that his novel is a complete fiction and any similarity between his recently-retired British Prime Minister and recently-retired Tony Blair is a complete coincidence). And while we’re on the subject of ghosts (as in ghostwriters) I think Christopher Simon Sykes has done a great job ghosting Eric Clapton’s autobiography. Another good read.

I’m currently working my way through the latest Granta collection of American short stories, edited by Richard Ford, as well as a much slimmer volume of short stories by the wonderful Jane Gardam (who lives not far from me, so I have a signed first edition!). The letters of Graham Greene (A Life in Letters) edited by Richard Greene are also enlightening as well as immensely readable. ‘Altogether I am feeling depressed,’ he writes in 1931. ‘Books are a labour to write and a hell to publish; why does one do it?’


Mary Witzl said...

I'm glad you're happy with the award, Paul! I was too, but worried that others might be less thrilled.

I have heard such widely differing reviews of The Road that I now feel I have to read it. I've heard only good things about No Country for Old Men, so I will have to read that too.

For some reason, that quote from Graham Greene cheers me up considerably. If writing was labor and hell for him, why in the world should I expect it to be any different for me, given what I do?

Paul said...

Hi Mary

I'm with you on the Graham Greene quote. I found it incredibly encouraging!

Kanani said...

Cormac McCarthy is a really hard read. Half the time you're transfixed, other times you're wonder where these horrors came from! I loved The Road, and absolutely loved it. I also liked The Border Trilogy, but like I said, it was a tough read for me.

McCarthy is a recluse. He's given one print interview but amazingly, last year he consented to an interview with Oprah. Try this link on youtube: Oprah interviews Cormac

Paul said...

Hi Kanani. Thanks a million for that link - really interesting (despite Oprah's interview technique!). Cheers!