This was meant to be a New Year post but book reviews, essay marking, and PhD work pushed it back. Which is rather the point. Just as I feel the blog is really getting going and my plans for the range of books I read and review develop I find that this is the year I should be – need to be – writing up my thesis. What with teaching and researching the time I have to write the kind of review I find the most rewarding – about 1,000 words – of a standard I’m comfortable with – someone might not think I’m an idiot – is simply unavailable. Unavailable, that is, if this thesis is ever going to be written. I’d also quite like to write some short stories this year. My grand total of 500 words last year hasn’t really satisfied that particular urge.
‘What does this all mean?’ I hear you cry. Well, never fear, I know many of you would feel utterly bereft were this small blog to disappear. My conscience would never allow such a disturbance in so many lives. I have a heart. Not incidentally, I also rather enjoy this reviewing business. I will keep reading and reviewing, I’m just going to be very strict with a 500/600 word limit and the amount of time give each one. I have been known to spend days on a single review; although that hasn’t happened recently, because I haven’t had time. Which brings us back to the beginning.
So, what are my aims for this year? Well, I’m going to be reading more translated literature (from the likes of Pushkin Press, Peirene, And Other Stories, NYRB Classics), American fiction, and older works like Henry James, Graham Greene, and so on. I absolutely intend to keep reading new fiction as well; so I hope people are still willing to send it to me despite the new format. I have quite a few exciting books waiting on my shelf and my new regime should let me read and talk about them without derailing the PhD. These include, but are definitely not limited to:
WOOL – Hugh Howey (Century) Currently reading.
The Starboard Sea – Amber Dermont (Corsair) Read and awaiting review.
The Forbidden Kingdom – Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (Pushkin Press) Read and awaiting review.
First Novel – Nicholas Royle (Jonathan Cape) Read and awaiting review.
Clay – Melissa Harrison (Bloomsbury)
Five Star Billionaire – Tash Aw (4th Estate)
The Taste of Ashes – Marci Shore (William Heinemann)
Idiopathy – Sam Byers (4th Estate)
The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness (Canongate)
All That Is – James Salter (Picador)
The Book of My Lives – Aleksandar Hemon (Picador)
Journey By Moonlight – Antal Szerb (Pushkin Press.)
In Search of Venice – Box set from Pushkin Press.
Amity & Sorrow – Peggy Riley (Tinder Press)
The First Book of Calamity Leek – Paula Lichtarowicz (Hutchinson)
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie – Ayana Mathis (Hutchinson)
The Children’s Hospital – Chris Adrian (Granta)
Traveller of the Century – Andrés Neuman (Pushkin Press)
And so on…