An orgy of novels……

November was National Write your Novel Month but for me it was a real novel reading month………

I refer you to the Oxford English Dictionary’s second definition of Orgy (noun)

  1. A wild party, esp. one involving excessive drinking and unrestrained sexual activity.
  2. Excessive indulgence in a specified activity: “an orgy of buying”.

This weekend the lists of holiday books/books of the year started to appear in the papers in time for Christmas shopping.
I thought I’d compile my own shortlist of November novels which inspired, engaged and consumed  me this month:

1) David Lodge – A Man of Parts
fictionalised biography of H.G.Wells

2) Paula McLain – The Paris Wife
Fictionalised autobiography of Hemingway’s first wife.

I used to think that fiction writers were cheating if they didn’t make it up (I’m still not sure about prequels and sequels of classic novels) but these two novels convince me that in the right hands it doesn’t matter where the story comes from. It raises interesting questions about the borders between fact and fiction, different genres which are being created.

I don’t actually want to return to the primary texts as a result of reading these.Does anyone over the age of 16 and under the age of 70 read HG Wells any more? Hemingway?

3) Amy Waldman – The Submission
What would happen if a Muslim won the competition to design the 9/11 memorial? Topical and challenging.

4) Julian Barnes – A sense of an ending
A worthy Booker prize winner  He considers the role of memory and the re-construction of the past in the light of the present.

5) Lily Luck – I married you for Happiness
What the mathematician’s widow thought about their life and his work on the night he died.

Not a bad haul for one month – I’ll save the non-fiction and the poetry for another time.

Any other recent must-read novel suggestions?

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4 Comments

  1. Kate Thompson

     /  December 26, 2011

    Thanks for pointing this out, Sheelagh – I’ve now corrected the post.

    Murakami makes me think of a man in a well – but that could be Kenzaburo Oe.

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  2. Sheelagh Gallagher

     /  December 22, 2011

    Er,,, Chesil Beach was Ian McEwan which felt to me like a reworking of Tess of the D’urbervilles. I nearly didn’t read it at all. The extracts that were everywhere did not inspire but the book, taken as a light meal, was strangely moving- for me
    I have just finished -early this morning-1Q84 by Murakami. Now that’s what I call disappointing. At one point on a train I put it down and started reading Facebook posts and finding them more interesting. The first chapter was so good I kept reading it again. Not exciting in the way that Enduring Love (hat man again) was exciting but such clear prose. I have a feeling thar it might just be one of those books that grows on you after you’ve finished it. I hope so-it was very long.

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  3. I haven’t had time to read novels recently because I have been writing and editing my own poetry but the most memorable and moving book I have read this year is Monsieur Linh and His Child by Philippe Claudel. It is only slim but beautifully written, a must read. It is the sensitive tale of an elderly gentleman’s displacement due to war and an unlikely friendship that crosses the language barrier, a tale of loss and hope.
    I have included the link to the Guardian review but I always worry that too much is given away and it might spoil the story so read at your own risk.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/may/01/monsieur-linh-child-philippe-claudel-review

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