Alongside that I've picked up and made a start on yet another book about Virginia Woolf, sensibly titled Virginia Woolf by Anthony Curtis.
I had an agreement with myself a few years ago that I would read no more about Virginia's life until I had actually focused on her writing having become so wrapped up in the extraneous detail that I'd missed the most important bit. Since then I've read The Voyage Out, Night & Day, To The Lighthouse, Jacob's Room and most recently Flush plus a great deal of the non-fiction writing so I think I'm allowed another book about Virginia before we reach the third book in the NTTVBG series, Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers round at Other Stories on March 7th.
I'm really enjoying the conversational, reader-friendly tone to this book, which for all that readable appeal doesn't mess with the facts or the detail but somehow adds something extra, perhaps that human quality. The range of photos is also excellent, some that even I, having in my possession just about every book written on the subject, hadn't seen before.
Much other postal temptation to resist this week but it won't be long before I give in.
I read Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star with some degree of mystification but a great deal of enjoyment a few years ago and have had Why This World - A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser biding its time here. I had really wanted to read a bit more of Clarice Lispector's fiction before I read about her life for fear of falling into that old Virginia Woolf trap, except there seems to be very little in translation, so I was delighted when The Apple in the Dark arrived.
"Martin is convinced that he has murdered his wife. In a delirium of guilt and grief, he wanders through a forest until he comes across an isolated farm run by Vitória an indomitable spinster who is afraid to live , and her flighty, obsessive cousin Ermelinda, who is terrified of death. As Martin works on Vitória's land he is both haunted and comforted by memories of his wife and son. In the intense heat of the Brazilian summer, drought threatens both the farm and its inhabitants, and these three very different but equally domineering characters provoke each other into a realisation of their individual psychological isolation."
This year it seems that I will also mostly be reading books by men called Jonathan.
Firstly Jonathan Buckley's Contact, currently Jon Macgregor's Even the Dogs about which much more soon because it has impressed me enormously (I even have prize-list hopes for it) and now a proof copy of Jonathan Coe's new novel The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim has arrived. For publication in May and perhaps Jonathan Coe's moment has arrived here with this book because I read the first thirty pages and had to drag myself away and I'll now confess I haven't read any of the others and everyone else seems to have done...The Rotter's Club...What a Carve Up!
I'm sure you're all going to tell me I must now.
From Jonathans galore to the one and only Joan Bakewell who seems to be the 'it' girl of the moment with an autobiography that everyone who reads it loves, and so I'm intrigued by the arrival of her novel All the Nice Girls, it's been out a year, soon coming in paperback,
'"The school is going to adopt a ship."
The announcement prompts tremors of excitement...Girls whisper...Contact with serving sailors, men in uniform, who have seen the enemy...even been in battle...Letters. Meetings...'
Rose Tremain is certainly another writer I haven't done justice to, The Colour was going really well and then something went wrong and I lost interest, perhaps an interruption and when I went back I wasn't enthused. I've missed a great deal both before and since I know, so I'll have a go with her latest novel Trespass and see whether a backlist-backtrack is in order.
Finally something else to look forward to for anyone else who loved Catherine O'Flynn's What Was Lost, her second novel The News Where You Are to be published in July,
'a blisteringly sharp satire on Modern Britain, brilliantly funny, heartbreakingly sad'
well so sayeth the blurb and look, one of my Jonathans likes it too..."an awesomely talented writer."
So how about you, good reading week?
Have the abstainers abstained from buying?
Have the rest of you had books plopping through the letterbox or lugged a bagful home from the library as usual?
Confess and be absolved, we won't tell anyone.