I know it's Tuesday but I haven't done Sunday Confessions for ages... that owning up to all the books that were arriving, because in the end it just seemed like bragging about the number of books that had come through the door. However some of this week's are too luscious-looking not to mention, so please forgive more indulgence and actually I have paid for a few of these too... no chance of a year of not buying books for me.
I have to shout from the rooftops because some of those 'reasons to be cheerful about publishing' have arrived. A parcel from Faber included a proof copy of On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry, not published until August, but all bets are off that I won't have picked it up before the end of January. An epic spanning seven decades as Lilly Bere mourns the loss of her grandson...memory, war, family-ties and love. I came across this quote in an interview with Sebastian Barry as he talked about A Long, Long Way and I knew exactly what he meant,
'Any half-decent book has a secret that the reader recognizes and, like the writer, can never completely say what it is—which I think constitutes the pleasure of a book. It is saying something, but the thing left hanging in the air, the thing unsaid, is what the reader takes away.'
Likewise I am eager to read Irma Voth the new novel from Miriam Toews and a return to the fundamentalist religious community that she portrays so well. As a film crew move in recently married and deserted Irma starts to question the secluded life she has led.
In the same parcel, Philip Larkin, Letters to Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite...
'My holiday was rather as I expected - my poor father grew steadily worse & died on Good Friday. Since then mother and I have been rather hopelessly looking at the stock in the house - this morning I shifted 100lbs of jam - 1945, 1946, 1947 years - and about 25 Kilner jars of bottled fruit. Seventeen dozen boxes of matches, a shoe box of chocolate - all this from one small cupboard. I don't what will happen to it all - I don't like sweet things you remember.'
I'm going to add this to my pile of letters to dip in and out of, The Letters of T.S.Eliot arrived a while back too, so much to enjoy.
Not forgetting either Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien, also from Faber and this the first collection of her stories for some years, I haven't read anything by Edna O'Brien at all so this will be my starter for ten.
My three purchased Philip Roths have arrived along with another good spot on Amazon, a collection of three books by Tarjei Vessas, Spring Night, The Birds and The Boat in the Evening published by Peter Owen and which I snapped up in the Marketplace. It is a while since I read The Ice Palace but memories of that book etched into my memory so I am looking forward to more by this Norwegian author.
I was also delighted to receive a copy of Old Man Goriot by Balzac from Penguin, in a new translation. Perhaps better known as Pere Goriot to me but mention of Balzac when I was writing about Penelope Fitzgerald this week had prompted me to plan a sidetrack in his direction after that single blaze of glory I experienced with Eugenie Grandet, so a fortuitous arrival.
Just as timely, a copy of Daisy Goodwin's My Last Duchess which has been getting great reviews. I missed it in hardback so my thanks to Headline for a paperback edition because I think this will segue nicely into my reading of Searching for Grace by Carol Henderson. I'm really hoping the allusion to Browning's wonderful poem quoted is setting me on the right track with this one. A Level English, rainy day huddled over books in a classroom and I knew that I would love his poetry for ever when I read this poem, and slowly its haunting meaning dawned...
That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands
Will't please you sit and look at her?...
It will please me to sit and read this book for sure.