Friday, July 29, 2016

More July Reading -- Two Titles for You

When I last wrote here, I was partway through Teju Cole's Open City, remarking on how much Cole's writing reminds me of W.G. Sebald's and discovering (with some embarrassment) that I was far from the first to make that link.  Indeed, there are many, many fine, nuanced, comprehensive responses to, and analyses of this novel and Cole's writing overall, that I won't attempt to say much more about it here. I know this is a book I will return to, and if/when any of you have ready it and are ready to chat about it, I'll be happy to do that -- something is introduced at the end of the novel that flips it completely on its head, giving the narrator's meditative if dispassionate voice throughout a troubling tone. I'm still trying to sort out how that works and why and whether the narrator is reliable at all.  I don't think his voice will leave me anytime soon, but I'm leaving it in the background for now, turned down low.

Meanwhile, as I wrote last post, I'd checked out an ambitious little pile of books from the library. The Steve Burrows' mystery,  A Pitying of Doves, second in a series of Birder Murder Mysteries, was a quick palate cleanser before another more serious novel. I'm happy to have discovered this series set in Northern Northfolk, near a coastal saltmarsh favoured by birders. The protagonist Domenic Jejeune is an expat Canadian, a police inspector whose unconventional approach has nevertheless brought considerable attention in the wake of his successful solving of some high-profile murders. Jejeune, however, would prefer a life as a birder, a field in which he also enjoys some renown, but his undeniable talents as a detective keep pulling him back toward a career that doesn't seem to bring him joy. His girlfriend of several years is trying to convince him that his talents demand to be used and that the notion of a career in birding is a pipe dream he needs to grow out of.  Other characters are struggling with various life challenges as well, and there are several potential romances to speculate about from one novel to the next as the series develops. I'm looking forward to reading the next one, and I happily recommend the first two for anyone looking for a new mystery series to enjoy.

Next up, and I hope to say a few words about it soon, was an e-book I'd put on hold at the Vancouver Public Library. This was a first for me, borrowing in electronic form, but it couldn't have been easier. I could have downloaded it via my Kobo app, but I opted instead to use a program called OverDrive. I downloaded the e-book and read it on my iPad Mini, and the whole experience was so easy that I will be doing this again regularly and often. In fact, I just got a notice that another e-book I'd put on hold has just come available.  Can you see why I'm having a problem writing these posts? I'm too busy reading!

But for now, there's a quick update. Time for you to let me know what you're reading, and whether or not you've read or heard of the two books I mention here today.

Remember, beginning in September, I'll be hosting a ReadAlong of Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend for anyone who'd like to participate. If you've already started reading it in preparation, considering jotting down a few notes as you go -- I'll be very keen for any of you to share your thoughts, and I know I find it easier to remember if I either make notes in the margins (I know! Some book people are aghast at the thought of writing in a book, but it's been a scholarly habit of mine since my first degree and throughout my grad school and then teaching years) or in a notebook that I keep alongside my reading if I'm working with an e-book or a library book. Of course, you might have a much better memory than mine and that's not necessary. And you might not feel comfortable commenting at all -- rest assured that will be just fine as well. This is the first ReadAlong I've attempted and the idea is to keep it fun and inclusive while nonetheless hoping to build, collectively, a stronger understanding of and engagement with a book well worthy of some protracted attention.


  1. I am listening right now to a broadcast of My Brilliant Friend (part 1) on BBC radio 4. A dramatization versus a reading...condensed of course but interesting. Ah, it has just ended and I now know it is part 1 of two one-hour episodes if anyone is interested.

  2. Thanks, Georgia. I listened to the first half of part one. It's funny with the little British girl voices. I enjoy BBC4.

  3. Oh,I have to check if I could find BBC4 (or any of it)
    I downloaded first of the Birder Murder Mysteries (and also have to check if we actually have e-books in libraries at all)
    Also inspired by a comment here, I finished Benett's Lady in the Van and could not wait to see what Dame Maggie S.made of it. She must be hilarious
    I'm reading Biĺ Bryson's At Home,A Short History of Private Life,so full of interesting facts

  4. I'l have to see if I can find this and have a listen -- thanks for pointing it out, Georgia.