Don’t you just hate the slumps? I can’t seem to settle to any of my books at the moment, and feel as if nothing has quite hit the spot for a while. That’s not true – I read and loved Jeanette Winterson’s memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? only last weekend and will review it soon. And when I felt the slump coming on, I instantly picked up crowd pleasers: Ann Bridges’ Illyrian Spring, and another Perry Mason, The Case of the Fugitive Nurse by Erle Stanley Gardner. I am enjoying the Perry Mason, but the Ann Bridges isn’t quite what I thought it would be. There’s a lot of travelogue, and a lot about architecture composed on what feels at the moment like a very slight story. Hopefully it will pick up. In the meantime, I can look ahead a bit.
As much as I have any idea what I want right now, I think I’d like good storytelling, so that’s my focus. It’s not like we’re having any summer here in the UK, as we are stuck in an endless cycle of rain, but theoretically it’s summer reading I’m planning.
I’ve never read Stephen King because I really don’t like horror. But I can wait to get to his latest novel 11.22.63, concerning a time travelling historian out to prevent JFK’s assassination. The American date system fools me every time, though, so the title looks more like code or a phone number to me. Still, that’s not important. I’d also like to read Connie Willis’s Blackout and to revisit a book I loved as a teenager, Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. The Willis is about historians and time machines again, Lady of Hay about past lives.
I have quite a few recent releases that I’m hoping to read. I’ve never yet tried Ann Patchett, and have State of Wonder, the recent Orange Prize shortlist contender on my pile by my bed. Also The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, another much-lauded contemporary writer. Just the other day I picked up Untold Story by Monica Ali, the fictional account of what might have happened had Princess Diana lived. And then there’s You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik, about a charismatic teacher in a Parisian boarding school. Finally, a novel that happens to be demanding my attention although I couldn’t say why: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. I feel it’s exactly the sort of novel to pull me out of my slump.
I’d love to read another novel by Willa Cather, and another by Wallace Stegner, and E. M. Forster’s Passage to India.
Tempting me for several weeks now, The House in France by Gully Wells, a memoir of a privileged childhood, The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer, about an author’s relationship with the works of Graham Greene, and just recently published, Adam Phillips’ latest collection of essays: Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life.
I’m taking part in Richard’s Spanish Lit Month, joining in the reading of Bartleby & Co by Enrique Vila Matas. The Slaves of Golconda’s next choice is Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt, to read for 31st July. And Danielle and I have agreed to read an Elizabeth Chadwick novel together, although we haven’t decided which one!
I won’t get through all of the above; this represents a kind of shortlist of what I’d most like to read this summer. I am also still hoping to do a week of French-related reviews, even though it keeps getting put off. It will all come good in the end!