Two Weeks Away From Here…

I’m taking a two week break. I’ll be heading to Victoria to spend time in an 1850s granite cottage. A time of relaxation and hopefully a chance to have another slice of one of my favourite cakes, Raspberry Dacquoise, from one of the town’s cafes.

I am also hoping to catch up on some reading – to finish what I’ve started and to reduce my still-to-be-read pile. There are so many books I’d like to read, but deciding which one is a big decision. Choosing one means neglecting others.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit over-stretched, with too many books on the go at the same time. I don’t want to repeat that situation again during my break.

I’ve been listening to some interviews with David Mitchell during my drive to work, and I’ve seen most of the film version of his book Cloud Atlas which I hope to finish watching on the weekend. I’m tempted to read another of his novels, or even to re-read Black Swan Green or Cloud Atlas… but I feel reluctant to start re-reading when I have so many books waiting for a first reading.

Another possibility if I don’t follow the Mitchell path is Zadie Smith’s NW. It all depends on how I’m feeling when I’m ready to make the decision.

While I’m away any comments here won’t get moderated. They will have to wait for approval until I get back


7 thoughts on “Two Weeks Away From Here…

  1. I’ll be curious what you think of the (fairly new) movie version of that David Mitchell book.

    I’ve started an earlier book by the author of THE BLIND MAN’S GARDEN (which you told us about in this blog), Nadeem Aslam, MAPS FOR LOST LOVERS; want to quote a portion to further elucidate the culture addressed in both of these — whilst the excerpt will show how different people within that living environment see things differently (compared to a piece I quoted and commented on, earlier and in your onesimusfiles blog, from the other book):

    …. Kaukab hadn’t seen a man up close without there being the gauze of her *burqa* between him and her since the age of twelve — she had been made to wear it….then on a certain monsoon Thursday when she was in her twenties, and sitting in the back room working on the articles that would one day soon become part of her dowry, for her parents had begun the preliminary negotiations for her marriage, she heard a short tap on the window. She put aside the fabric she was cutting up into a *kameez* and went to open it, expecting it to be the little boy she had seen through the same window wandering through the street earlier and sent to the shop at the corner with a swatch of fabric the size of a teabag to buy a spool of thread “matching exactly that colour, or I’ll send you back to exchange it. And show me your pocket so I can make sure there’s no hole in it, otherwise you’ll lose my money and come back with a long face.”

    Only after he left had she regretted not having told him to get an adult — preferably a woman — to match the thread with the cloth.

    She opened the window and recoiled, barely managing to hide behind the casement leaf because there was a grown man standing on the other side.

    She was shaking. She heard his voice but it was many seconds before she made out his words: “The newspaper. Can I have our newspaper back?” It must be the son of the family from whom her father borrowed the newspaper each morning, she understood, and felt terror at the thought that someone might have seen her opening the window to him: a woman’s life was ruined as easily as that. People might not believe that she was innocent.

    And then suddenly she felt anger at him: how dare he knock on a window during the daytime when there was every possibility that he might catch the daughters of the house unawares. “The newspaper was sent back at eleven o’clock, brother-ji.”

    She was about to close the window when the voice said: “The literary supplement is missing. Could you check that you don’t still have it in there somewhere. I’d be grateful.”

    She closed the window and bolted it shut noisily with a “Wait there, brother-ji,” more and more furious at him for neglecting to refer to her as “sister-ji,” which would have decriminalized the glimpse he had caught of her face, and in a panic because she hadn’t checked the date on the paper she had found on the table earlier and had spent the past hour practising the pattern of her *kameez* on it: there it lay on the floor now, today’s literary supplement, cut up into geometric shapes.

    …. he tapped again, and she opened the casement just enough for her hand to pass through and handed him his beloved literary supplement, the pages that did not mention the name of Allah or Muhammad, prayer and peace be upon him, even once because she had checked before spreading them on the floor.

    “Here it is, brother-ji. I am sorry it is a bit creased but the iron isn’t working today,” she said, as though all he would notice would be the creases and not the chopping up.

    1. My response to the Cloud Atlas movie is mixed. I think it was very well done, dealing with the complex structure of the novel and the relationship of its various stories in an interesting and effective way. I loved the way that the same actors played a variety of characters throughout the various story strands, and were sometimes not even recognisable, until their identities were revealed in the credits.

      I didn’t like the extreme brutality in parts. The film also didn’t venture so much into the imaginative language use of the book – apart from the part of the story set in the most distant future which tried to approximate the language of the book (however I found the dialogue in that section seemed muffled and lacked clarity, so understanding the language itself was less of a problem than hearing what was being said).

      Maybe my memory is failing, but I don’t recall the closing scene of the movie being in the book, where one of Tom Hanks’s characters is revealed telling his story to his grandchildren (?). That added ending seemed far too sentimental and out of character with the rest of the film.

      I haven’t read Maps For Lost Lovers yet. I’m not sure whether that’s a book I bought a while ago or whether its the only of his books that I haven’t yet bought. I’ll have to check when I get home.

  2. Have you seen “Looper”? One of my sons liked that but not “Cloud Atlas” — I’d likely see it if that gets seconded. Don’t know if that movie was based on a book too. It’s interesting to hear some details about movies adapted from books. My youngest two wanted go see “Ender’s Game” this past weekend and got my oldest thinking of reading the books.

    1. No I haven’t seen Looper.
      I read Ender’s Game many years ago and from memory liked the story. I didn’t know about the movie version until your comment, and then on the weekend I saw the book with a movie tie-in cover. I haven’t read any of the sequels to the book.

  3. I’m a little curious about the imaginative language that makes me think “Cloud Atlas” could be interesting, but I don’t think I’ll be reading many more novels (and it wasn’t done justice in the movie it looks like). We’ll see. What did you read during your time away from here?

    1. Despite my intentions I read very little while I was away. I spent some time at a cottage in a town called Beechworth. The cottage has a small collection of books for guests and I browsed through some of them, but I wasn’t there long enough to commit to a whole book. While I was at home I spent a lot of time in the garden instead of reading (a little rainy weather to force me indoors might have been helpful).
      At best I read a few more chapters of the books I’ve been working through over the past weeks. None of them have been enthralling enough to make me abandon everything else.

  4. Well, here it is; the next novel I’LL be buying: JACOB’S OATH (Martin Fletcher).

    This is written by someone who’s long career has not been in fiction.

    I thank you again for your sustained demonstration that reading fiction can be worthwhile (beyond the themes that were fun to speculate on in high school literature), for your being someone with good judgment who discusses various aspects of novels and what interests can be addressed in them and the possibilities for learning and imagining through them.

    As it turns out, I will be taking a semester off work on a degree so that I can work on improvements to a great-room (depending on nomenclature, family room or living room in a house without a “front” room — the front rooms serving as a dining room and an office). I like having a novel and a theological book (or two, and a theological article, all usually with historical and linguistic bents) and at least one other kind of reading all going at once for whatever the mood during breaks or before sleep or when taking a day off, etc. (besides having paint and wood/tile trim samples to look through).

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