Sunday, March 29, 2009

Random thoughts about books


I was reading the paper yesterday and noticed that of the five books nominated for the Christina Stead prize (worth $40k!), I had read three of them fairly recently.  Out of those three, I loved one and was a bit disappointed with the other two.

I really liked 'The Spare Room' by Helen Garner and read it in about a day after receiving it as a gift.  I just loved the way she wrote.  It the story of a woman who has an old friend come to stay with her for three weeks.  But the friend is dying of cancer and has come to stay while she tries an alternative cancer treatment.  It is terribly sad and so lacking in any hope.  As a Christian I'm so accustomed to speaking about death and the aftermath with hope.  And it was the lack of hope and the desperate attempts by the woman's friend to cling onto life that intrigued me.  

The other two books nominated for the prize were  'Breath' by Tim Winton and 'The Lieutenant' by Kate Grenville.  I had been looking forward to both of these books being a fan of the authors.  But they were both disappointing.  I sometimes feel that when writers get 'successful' they just churn out the next book.  That's what it felt like with these two.  When you're onto a good thing stick to it (especially Grenville's book - so much like 'The Secret River' - when you've done all that research may as well get another book out of it).  I suspect that Winton's book (all about teenage boys surfing) may not really have been meant for me!

Last week I read 'Back When We Were Grown-ups' by Anne Tyler.  I really like Anne Tyler.  Lovely, interesting, funny characters.  Often about middle-age women having a mid-life crisis and looking back at their lives.  Not sure what that says about me!

1 comment:

JMS said...

I have to admit that I have not read any of the books you have mentioned however I agree with your comment regarding the authors churning out books. I imagine that it is due to publisher pressure though rather than the authors desire to publish the same thing. "Branding" of the author would also add pressure so that readers dont forget the authors name and previous work. Of course the other factor is income for the author who I suppose is keen to receive the income for a second book.

Thanks for the descriptions of the books, I might add them to my growing list of books to be read...if I ever get to them.

Julie