If anyone particularly cares!
I took a break from the genre this last month. I’ll often dip into the mainstream lit fic territory to see what’s going on. So, on a recommendation, I read Ian McEwan’s novella On Chesil Beach on the plane in a neat, concise sitting, with some wine—a recommended combination. I put off reading this since it became one of those vaguely fashionable books to read last year (which, I know, is no reason not to read something). Very simply, it’s about a couple’s wedding night set, with perhaps much intent, in 1962. It’s a very intense and brief blast of a work, a sensitive investigation not so much of sexuality, although it certainly is; but more a book about moments. And what ifs. Surprisingly powerful—and exactly the right length. Good review here.
Ann Enright’s The Gathering was less impressive. Following the history of a Irish family after a death, it explores the tentative fabric of family life. This should have been a novella—and if the editor had gone to town on it, then it could have ended up being a very profound work. As a result, it was diluted with self-indulgent meanderings.
As a result of such word wastage, I’m about to open up Brian K Vaughan’s graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad, following a pride of escaped lions during the Iraq war. And then it’s fully back into the genre with The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.
*Update* I’ve just finished Pride of Baghdad and it’s a superbly rendered piece. A wonderful allegory on freedom and the Iraq war, and perhaps done best using animals than humans. Good write up here:
What he wanted to do, Vaughan explains, was ‘to tell a story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians’. But telling a realistic story about the suffering of Iraqi civilians would not, of itself, hit home sufficiently hard: ‘It’s weird. You can threaten and kill a baby in a movie, but put a dog in jeopardy and people will walk out. You make a more immediate connection to a giraffe than a person. It sounds psychotic, that you can feel more for an animal than a human.’