Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Lost Book Library Reading Round-Up no. 6

A summary of my latest attempts to actually read the things before the Lost Book Library goes on its Christmas break.

Alton Douglas's Celebrity Recipes

Status: Flicked

Obviously, I'm not going to read a recipe book all the way through.  I'm not a mental.  I will, however, be shortly beginning a spin-off blog where I cook each of the recipes and rate them for tastiness, nutritional value and aroma.

The Landsbird by Colin Dunne

Status: Completed

This is exactly the sort of book the Lost Book Library exists for, even though it nearly didn't make it in due to its truly dreadful cover, and only a recommendation from the Nivenator himself saved it.  Too much of a soapy melodrama to be 'literary', too loaded with a vivid sense social reality to be a straight romance, this tale of doomed love between a couple brought together, and driven apart by the Sexual Revolution's slow crawl into England's remote areas falls between the cracks beautifully.  Although featuring such seventies stock characters as the businessman with the mistress in the city, and the nagging housewife, as well as those Lost Book Library stalwarts, the troublesome bikers, it also has a fantastic realness to it when it's attention turns to the fishing folk whose livelihoods are slowly, inexorably winding down to nothing.  There are some plot twists towards the end which are so unexpected, bizarre and problematic my brain refuses to process them, but overall, a very enjoyable and surprising read.

A New History of Torments by Zulfikar Ghose

Status: Abandoned, p. 99

This novel from B.S. Johnson's former writing partner comes with the most impressive list of recommenders - John Fowles, Edna O'Brien, Michael Moorcock, and it is indeed sporadically dazzling, with characters being flung on their own individual adventures in a manner that is positively Tarantino-esque.  It is also, unfortunately, irredeemably silly.  Beginning with a wealthy middle-aged man's affair with a younger woman (as all novels set in Latin America are - no exceptions), its attention soon turns to his children, who have very short memories, and think nothing of doing things like spending several days on a stranger's farm in order to see if there are any agricultural techniques they can apply to their own business, in spite of the fact their sibling has mysteriously disappeared after being knocked unconscious in a car crash.  I suppose this might be some magical realist device, but I couldn't be bothered with it, and after three characters in a row experienced such amnesia, I gave up, annoyed at such a potentially brilliant novel being capsized in this manner.

A True Romance by Jacky Gillott

Status: Abandoned, p. 19

A story about a romance writer getting over her mother's death that was simply too dreary to bother with, but as promised, here is another shot of the amazing fur-and-knitwear combo featured on the cover.

Kick Turn by Anthony Glyn

Status: Completed

This coming-of-age tale from the early sixties turned out to be an unexpected delight.  A young man is torn between following in the footsteps of his pretentious uncle into the fruit import trade or returning to the bosom of the family of his godfather, a truly terrifying bunch of outdoorsy religious nuts.  Along the way, he is irritated to have to stop listening to opera in order to lose his virginity to an older woman, and meets a free spirit who shows him a possible way out of his dilemma.  As ever in the Lost Book Library, the ending is a mess, and fan though I am of rambling, near-plotless post-war novels, the elements aren't ever set in motion in the way they should, and so a potential lost classic is instead an enjoyable curio.  Still, well a worth a read.

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