Book Diary – June 2013

‘Beyond Black’ by Hilary Mantel

Friday 31st May – Wednesday 26th June

While this clearly took me a long time to read, it wasn’t hard going. If anything, the main reason was a change in employment which deprived me of the opportunity to read on my lunch break.

As with the other books of Hilary Mantel’s that I have read recently, I enjoyed the act of reading it, which isn’t something I would say for most of the books I read. By that I mean that I felt no desire to rush on and get to the end of the chapter or book, but instead took pleasure in each sentence and paragraph.

The cover quotes all describe this book as being humourous, and while there is some sharply observed mocking of the pretence of everyday conventions, I found this to be not so much amusing as a rueful confirmation of our self-deception.

‘Ladies’ Man’ by Richard Price

Wednesday 26th June – Sunday 30th June

Richard Price is a strange author to me. I always enjoy reading his books, regardless of the subject matter, even though he often has what I would consider unresolved plots. I think his gift is that his characters are so believable that I follow them and understand their every decision. I wish I could write characters like that, and so he makes me wish I could write full-stop. If I ever make a serious stab at writing a novel, Richard Price will be one of my main inspirations.

And so to ‘Ladies’ Man’. It charts the descent of Kenny Becker from guy in unfulfilling relationship and job to guy in neither, via his insecurity-driven trips to various seedy establishments in 1970s New York. All in all, not really the kind of thing I would choose to read, however I still found it easy and engrossing reading, mostly because Richard Price made Kenny an easy man to sympathise with.

I guess part of the reason I liked the book and grudgingly liked Kenny was that as a thirty-year-old in a job he didn’t really enjoy, he was very similar to me and the situation I was in a couple of months ago. Some of his thoughts, wild plans for the future and dispiriting realisations seemed very familiar.

* * *

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I have now changed jobs! While I’m very happy about that, it does mean my potential reading time is reduced and I reckon I will find that I take longer to read each book. If it gets to the point where I am only getting a book or two into each month, the current format of my Book Diary will be somewhat redundant and I will look to change it to something more suitable, either devoting a post to each book, or perhaps only updating it on a quarterly basis.

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