This week, I will mostly be reading…
Pictured above, from top to bottom:
Emma by Jane Austen
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
So here’s what I’ll mostly be reading this week! You’ll notice that there’s not been much of a change from the start of this month. I’ve not spent as much time reading lately as I’d like. This is odd, as I’d been going really well until the turn of the year. Hopefully it’s just a tired patch. Anyway, the first book there is Emma, which I’m about 40% of the way through as of today. I’m only making slow progress with it as I’m not reading it at home, only on my commute and lunch break. I’m really enjoying rereading it, as I’m picking up on so much more of the foreshadowing of things that happen towards the end of the book than I did the first time through. I’ve got Alexander McCall Smith’s modern rewrite lined up for afterwards, and I’m really looking forward to that too. I like modern rewrites a lot, even though they don’t always do anything innovative with the text.
Everything is Illuminated is what I’ve got lined up for after I finish Gormenghast. I’m kind of nervous to read this one. I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close near the end of 2013 when I was in a pretty big reading slump and was generally pretty depressed. Although it was pretty self-conscious and a bit pretentious, I really enjoyed it and it really spoke to me, especially the meditations on grief. So I’m hoping that this one will still work for me now that I’m in a much better head-space. Foer has a bit of a rep for being pretentious and not being as clever as he thinks he is, so we’ll see how I get on with this one.
Finally Gormenghast. I’m about one third of the way through the second book in the trilogy, and I hope to finish it by the end of this week (I said this last week, and the week before…) The thing about these books is that they’re very dense. Even though I don’t find the language difficult, or what they’re describing hard to imagine, there’s just so much of it. It’s been said by many that Peake writes like a painter and that’s true – his imagery is so alive with colour and artistry that it works so much better for me than most other extremely visually descriptive writing. If I could make one small criticism, he’s a little a repetitive. For example Steerpike’s “high shoulders” or Fuchsia’s “inky black” hair is referred to at least once every couple of pages. I’m not sure, maybe it’s intentional, but it doesn’t really work for me.