If any of you have been following the progress of my odyssey through the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, you may (but probably won’t) be wondering what has happened to Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, which I was to have read as part of my last instalment of books.
I haven’t given up on it, I promise. It is, however, turning out to be the most challenging novel I have ever started to read. It is incredibly complex, dense and rich and, consequently, being a bear of little brain, I get brain ache every hundred pages or so. I’ve decided that the best thing is for me to read it in stages, interspersed with other books for relief. I am also almost certainly going to need to reflect on it for a while after I’ve finished it to get my thoughts into some kind of coherent order.
This means that I am moving forward to the next five in my 1,001 Books list. I re-read my post listing the last five and I was amused by how different my presumptions on how I would find them were to the reality. This doesn’t bode well for the next five as the trusty Random Number Generator has thrown up three books that I am really looking forward to. My next five books in this journey will be:
1. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. I have a confession here. I’ve just realised that , for some bizarre reason, I’ve been confusing this with Out of Africa. I’ve not seen the film adaptations of either and have never read either book so I really don’t know how I managed to do this. Anyway, this is the story of four damaged individuals brought together in an Italian monastery in the dying days of the Second World War.
2. The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Another confession. I’d always thought this was “chick lit”. I’m really starting to embarrass myself now. Anyway, this is a classic story of a woman fighting against the constraints of marriage and motherhood in the late 19th Century and finding sexual and spiritual freedom. I can’t say I’m totally enthused about this but I can’t go on using my get out of jail free cards so casually.
3. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. An epic novel about violence and depravity on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, what’s not to like? Seriously, though, I’ve never read anything by McCarthy so here’s a good nudge to do so.
4. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. Another well-known writer whose work I haven’t read, I am looking forward to reading the story of a Japanese artist in immediate post-War Tokyo. I am fascinated by this period and the way that Germany and Japan rebuilt themselves and so I should enjoy this book.
5. Platero and I by Juan Ramon Jimenez. I know very little about this other than it is a collection of Spanish stories for children. I am struggling to find an English language translation so it remains to be seen whether I can actually read it.
So there we have it. Overall, a pretty good random selection, I think.