We are all suffering from winter ailments of one kind or another, and if someone were to paint a red cross on the front door, I wouldn’t be altogether surprised. There’s a plague cloud hovering above the Fens at present, as all the students are dropping like flies, too. One I was supposed to see last Tuesday cancelled due to an asthma attack, and my lovely student who was working on his final year dissertation with me has finally decided to degrade (which means go home now, repeat the year starting from next October) as he can’t kick his post-viral fatigue. I’m not surprised. It’s hard to shake off a head cold during your average term at Cambridge, very little chance of recuperating from a serious illness. Still, my son, who was the first of our family to get ill, is the first to be recovering. I’d done some baking this afternoon, in lieu of any more serious work, and he made an intuitive beeline for the kitchen, once he’d got in from the bus.
‘Ooh,’ he said. ‘Is that a cupcake I see before me, thrust towards my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.’
No prizes for guessing which Shakespeare play he’s doing in school.
So, a fair amount of reading has been done by yours truly of late, but I don’t feel quite energetic enough to review it with any sort of justice. I’ll get around to it. In the meantime, I thought I would mention a little reading project I’ve decided on for myself. Only a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with the taste for something truly trashy on the book front. Something low and vulgar and shamelessly plot-driven. And it suddenly occurred to me that what I wanted was some good old-fashioned blockbusters, of the kind they don’t seem to make any more. Naturally, it took me a terrifyingly short time to get from that thought to a list, to having assembled the books. Here’s what I’m going to read:
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann
The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCulloch
Master of the Game – Sidney Sheldon
I was going to progress in chronological order, until I realized that Gone With The Wind has over a thousand pages. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that big, and I didn’t want to expend my desire for the blockbuster on the first novel and then neglect the rest. So the Mitchell will have to come last and in fact I think I might begin with Sidney Sheldon. But I also wanted to mix the reading up a bit, and I rather think I may read Herta Muller’s The Passport in tandem, as I feel that comparing the representations of power – in a Romanian police state and among the mega-rich in America – might be rather intriguing. I’m sure other comparisons will occur to me as I go along, and certainly I think I should pick up Nabokov’s Lolita again, perhaps as a counterpoint to The Thorn Birds? Well, we’ll see how all that goes. Lust, power, wealth, revenge, madness, ah yes, that ought to keep me occupied until the spring finally puts in an appearance.