A Week With Words (5)

This week, Noelle Adams finished writing Easier to Run and a day or so later I finished reading it. As per what I would like to be my regular practice, I will not say too much about it here but dedicate a post to the story in a week or two’s time.

I also finished Saul Kelly’s The Hunt for Zerzura. It and Adams’ work have little in common except that I enjoyed both and have no problem in recommending both to you.

Actually, I think I spoke a little too quickly, there: both the fictional Lara Croft and the real life interwar desert explorers and members of the Long Range Desert Group during the Second World War have this in common – a love of adventure. This expresses itself in different ways for them, but one thing is for certain, you would definitely want either people on your side in a tight spot.

***

As I read my way through 2015 I am not aiming to replace every book that I finish.

For this reason, Easier to Run doesn’t have a successor. At least, not yet. There or one or two other fan fiction/internet published stories that I am thinking of reading.

I am not yet over my love for the desert, though, and so Zerzura is being replaced by Wheels Across The Desert: Exploration of the Libyan Desert By Motorcar 1916 – 1942 by Andrew Goudie.

In addition, even though I have not yet finished Mad World, I am also going to start The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh.

***

The reason I am starting The Loved One ahead of time is because I am retiring to the countryside with my family this week and closing in on the end of Mad World. I can’t wait to get back to London before starting The Loved One, so, in anticipation of finishing Paula Byrne’s excellent book while on my hols, I’m taking it with me.

***

What of the other books I am already reading?

Maurice
E M Forster

Maurice got very intense this week with Maurice visiting a doctor to find out if there is a cure for his homosexuality. In case you are not familiar with this book, it is set in the Edwardian period. As you might imagine, therefore, the meeting did not go at all well.

Maurice told the doctor – albeit in a roundabout way (“I’m an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort”) – that he is homosexual. The doctor’s response? “Rubbish”, followed by dismissal and a call for some whisky.

I have no problem with a call for whisky, although that drink is a little strong for my tastes, but the rest of the doctor’s response was woefully lacking to the point of distressing.

Maurice is not the most sympathetic protagonist to ever cross a page but one could only feel for him in this situation. Imagine the mental pain that he was in. And for what?

The doctor’s refusal to take Maurice’s concern seriously is ultimately a denial of his humanity which is terrible thing, all the more so because Maurice and the doctor reflect the society of their day. This story is fiction but I bet my bottom dollar that it reflected the truth. Very grim.

The Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett

I was lent this book about four years ago (!). Last Christmas, I caught up with the man who gave it to me. It was embarrassing saying I still hadn’t read it, so I put it on my list of ‘Books I Really Must Read’. However, it was only the author’s recent death that made me think ‘Now I Absolutely Must Read It’. It seems I also speak with capital letters.

I have to admit, I opened the first page with caution. Fantasy-comedy is not a genre that I am interested it. I expected, therefore, to be bored. However, the book has started in a very lively fashion and I shall miss it while I am away.

About my only criticism of it at the moment is the onrush of strange names, places, people and things. I hope there is a Wiki page to which I can refer whenever I get lost.

As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee
P. D. Murphy

This week, I attended my Book Club and gave Tim Moore’s Spanish Steps a hammering (you can read my more gentle review here). Murphy’s walk across Spain, however, continues to engage.

One of my chief criticisms of Spanish Steps at the Book Club was its shallowness – particularly in respect of religion (as a practising Catholic this matters to me), which I did not feel he takes seriously.

P D Murphy is much better in this regard. He treats religion very seriously, and also very negatively on the grounds that the Church stood with General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. I don’t mind that, though; the important thing is that he is taking a serious institution seriously and speaking from his heart. It’s true, Tim Moore may have been doing the same, but I doubt it; his book was just too blokeish.

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