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September 2017

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My Dreamwidth reading list has had some really excellent posts on it lately. I ought really to comment on each individually, with specific points of praise and affirmation, but for now I'll just have to make this broad statement of appreciation. From political posts, to book and show reviews, to daily-life updates about cats or moving or cooking, I've really appreciated and been nourished by what you've been writing. Thank you.

I'm afraid I did nothing much for Mayday except teach a class and play cards with LB and S. There are thoughts of some kind of eccentric behaviour for the weekend, though.

I finished Jane Gardam's A Long Way from Verona and Barbara Comyns' The Vet's Daughter (1959), both Backlisted recommendations.

I liked both books. I liked Gardam's voice better -- though there was nothing wrong with Comyns', only I felt that pleasure in Gardam's book of a kind of perception I recognized.

The voice of Comyns' book was more alienating, but it was supposed to be. The Vet's Daughter seems like an almost lightly told tale, but it isn't -- it quietly depicts profound alienation, trauma, and domestic tyranny. That makes it sound grim, which it -- well, it is, but it has this clarity and sense of weightlessness, almost a dreaminess.

(All this imagery is obviously informed by the events of the book, which I will not -- quite -- spoil here.)

I liked very much the way the surreal or supernatural aspects were so naturalized, and how Comyns braided this in with the enforced ignorance / silence for women about sex and desire in Edwardian England.

Here's a remarkable bit of information from Wikipedia, though really from Comyns' own introduction to the novel: "[Comyns] dreamt the idea for The Vet's Daughter whilst on honeymoon in a Welsh cottage lent to her and her new husband by the Soviet agent Kim Philby in 1945."

(I do like that old t-spelling of the past tense -- "Dreamt" or even "dreampt", though maybe only Shakespeare can get away with the latter.)

Well, now I may have talked myself around to liking The Vet's Daughter better. Still, it's Gardam I wanted more of. In a lovely convergence, Gardam wrote the (other) introduction to my edition of Daughter.

Some very clever person(s) at the library purchased almost the whole lot of Gardam's novels in the recent Europa editions, so I have The Hollow Land and Old Filth from today's run. In fact, I'm halfway through The Hollow Land.

It's been an odd day -- I didn't sleep well, so all I've really done is go to the library, read The Hollow Land, try to take naps, work on lesson plans, and reheat some meatballs. I didn't feel right until about 3:30, after the more successful of my two naps.1

I should get back to it. To sum up: hello; happy May; here are some books; and thank you.


1. And now, I guess, I've written a blog post, so.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-03 03:45 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Some very clever person(s) at the library purchased almost the whole lot of Gardam's novels in the recent Europa editions, so I have The Hollow Land and Old Filth from today's run.

I have not read The Hollow Land, but Old Filth is the book I discovered Gardam with and I loved it. (It contains one late, unnecessary letter, which you will know when you hit it because it explains all the things that the reader has already understood; I was confused by it until I read an interview in which Gardam said that it was added at the insistence of her editor, which told me mostly that her editor assumed the readership were dopes.) I also love its sequel, The Man in the Wooden Hat. I have mixed feelings about the third book, Last Friends, but if you have liked the first two it is still worth picking up. If you didn't, all of this is irrelevant.

Happy May!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-03 05:35 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed constructing that tense.

It was beautifully done.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-04 07:48 am (UTC)
bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)
From: [personal profile] bibliofile
Hmm, like Gardam but haven't read Old Filth yet. (Been picking up her books randomly over the years.) May track that down next. Thanks!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-05 01:11 am (UTC)
intertext: (fillyjonk)
From: [personal profile] intertext
My mum was a huge Jane Gardam fan, and I liked A Long Way to Verona and Bilgewater (I think the latter a bit more than the former). I have The Hollow Land in my "to read" pile, which contains multitudes, so goodness knows when I'll ever get to it, but I will.

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