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Scan 19To my shame I have never read any Gene Wolfe before now and decided to start with Peace, partly because of the beautiful cover (yes, I am that shallow) but also because the blurb on the back of the Fantasy Masterworks edition I have sounded intriguing and not at all fantasy like, and the book itself reinforces that view because it reads very much like an ordinary memoir of a man’s life, but it is implied that there is a lot more going on here.

Which is where I have to confess that I had a bit of a problem, because I clearly missed a lot of the subtext around death (not giving too much away as this is mentioned on the back of the book) and I was aware but possibly didn’t entirely understand the timey-wimey stuff until close to the end. This, I hasten to say, is totally my failure to appreciate what Wolfe was doing with this story.

Peace is beautifully written, engaging, with believable characters that I became very fond of, especially our hero Alden Dennis Weer’s Aunt Olivia and her various suitors.

Because I was aware when I got to the end of the novel that I had not really got underneath the skin of this novel, I went off to the world-wide webs to find out what others have said with the result that I am definitely going to read Peace again to see if I was just being particularly dim or if it is as ambiguous as it appears.

All of that sounds like I didn’t enjoy Peace but I really did like it very much. As I said, the writing is super. There is a female character who is rumoured (on apparently no basis at all) to be no better than she should be, the other ladies around her considering  all the rumours to be true because she is so fit

For to them a physical pliancy implies moral accommodation

There is also a lovely quote which made me think more about the process of writing than I normally do. Our narrator talks abut doing something between the last sentence he had written and the one he is currently writing, and says

have you never thought as you read that months may lie between any pair of words?

Reading back this is a very fuzzy and disjointed review of what is clearly an important book in the fantasy genre. But I was confused and can only leave you all with the quote on the cover from Neil Gaiman:

a tricky, deep and remarkable novel

I may have missed some of the points but I am very glad that I read it.

This was my first read for Once Upon a Time VII.

So we’re now almost at the middle of September and it seems like a good time to take stock of my reading year and think about what’s coming up over the next few months, partly triggered by my starting to think of the books to take on holiday with me when I head off for 3 weeks at the beginning of October.

And of course the fact that I haven’t blogged for a while shows that my mind has been elsewhere – a mixture of work and domestic stuff which has kind of got in the way of my best laid plans.

So I am behind with my reviews – only two books behind to be fair, but that shows that I haven’t really been doing that much reading ; the whole standing on the train thing and working at home more than I have over recent months interfering with my reading routine which revolves around my daily commute. But they will be finished and posted over the next couple of days.

I had fully intended to take part in the read-a-long of The Handmaid’s Tale which Trish has been hosting here, but halfway through and I haven’t read a word despite my best intentions, so stepping back gracefully from that one. In fact I’ve decided to drop all of my remaining challenges as well, so the sidebar should be looking pretty clear shortly. Not seeing this as failure but an acknowledgment that my current workload and lifestyle just isn’t suited to directed reading. I may even make 2011 a challenge-free year but we’ll see how things go between now and the end of December; that may be a step too far!

Which brings me to one of my favourite challenges: RIP V, hosted by Carl. Again, we’re two weeks into this and I haven’t even started to make up a reading list for it; so not going to formally sign up but may find myself reading books that fit, and if I do I will blog appropriately. I am naturally drawn to creepy stuff at this time of year so it’s more than likely that I will end up taking part, but we’ll see.

This reads like a slightly downbeat post which it isn’t meant to be at all. I’m enjoying very much the book I’m currently reading (Candia McWilliam’s What to Look for in Winter) though goodness only knows how I’m going to write about something so gloriously complex and moving (but I’m definitely up for having a go).

So, no plans but just picking up whatever takes my fancy, which should be fun.

You may have noticed over the past week that both here and at the home of the Screen God I have been valiantly attempting to catch up with posts. And having done so I have come to the awful realisation that I haven’t finished a book since 11 April (end of the read-a-thon.)

That’s over a month ago (yes I know, stating the obvious but that’s my thing, OK?)

So I got to thinking about why that is, and there are a couple of obvious things that spring to mind:

  1. my morning commute is currently taking place at a time when I have to stand, making the reading of books difficult (for me, clumsy woman with poor balance and lack of natural grace) and then
  2. work is still really really busy despite the ending of a major project, and
  3. although my evening commute allows me to sit down my concentration is entirely shot  by then and I’m tired, which inevitably leads to
  4. vegetating in front of the TV when I get home and falling asleep before my head hits the pillow (neither conducive to reading) and all of this means that
  5. my weekends are spent catching up with loads of other stuff

And much as I’m reluctant to say so, I just can’t get into my current read, so there’s no incentive to even try.

So going to permit myself to ignore challenges and just find something interesting to read, even if I have to open every book in this house – and believe me, that’s saying a lot.

rip4150So yet another failed challenge; it’s been a bad year for reading to order (if I can call it that, possibly being a little bit harsh) and I am choosing to blame it all on pressure of work though poor reading planning on my part is almost certainly just as culpable.

Anyhow, in my original post here I identified eight possibles of which I planned to read four; I actually made it to three:

Close, but no cigar.

Oh well, there is always next year….

death-reportSince I got back to London it’s all been about laundry and work. But hopefully I’ll be back to posting normally shortly, with reviews of two novels (the non-science-fiction science-fiction one and the it-really-freaked-me-out Swedish zombie one), excuses for why I’ve failed yet another challenge, and on Screen God a review of Pixar’s Up which seeks to explain why exactly I cried like a sentimental old fool……

death-of-lady-macbethSo here we are at the beginning of March and I’ve been having a look at the challenge buttons on my sidebar and realise that there is at least one that I’m not going to complete – largely because I haven’t even started it! So goodbye  Becky’s Arthurian Challenge, I had high hopes of being able to spend some time with all things Camelot (Camelotian? Camelotic?) but it just wasn’t to be. The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge is also looking a bit ropey, but I have higher hopes of making some progress there so I’m not going to throw in the towel on that once just yet…..

It’s about time I owned up about the abject failure that was the Fall Into Reading Challenge, so here’s how it all panned out.

I meant:

  • to read the following books left over from RIP III challenge:
    • Duma Key by Stephen King [failed]
    • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury [completed – hurrah!!]
    • Come Closer by Sara Gran [failed]
    • Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman [failed]
  • to finish Jigs and Reels by Joanne Harris which I started reading way back when? [failed]
  • to finish The Mandlebaum Gate which I abandoned earlier this year, and kick-start my Muriel Spark readathon once again [failed]
  • to read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman as soon as I get my sticky paws on it [failed]
  • to find enough books in addition to these, and make the time to read them, so that I hit my 52 books in 52 weeks goal [not anywhere likely to succeed – may get to 40 if I try really, really hard]

Oh well, better to have tried and failed……..

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

The Sunday


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June 2023