Weekly Fragments ~ Monday February 10th

virgilio-dias-universitc3a1ria-2011-o-s-t-60-x-60I don’t know why I call these posts ‘weekly’ because they’re anything but.  However, Sporadic Fragments doesn’t have quite the right ring to it so Weekly Fragments it is.

Those of you who are truly eagle-eyed will have noticed that I have very definitely not kept up with my promise to read fewer crime novels this year, but there is a reason for that and I want to explain myself before exposing you to at least two new reviews over the following week.

Life, in the form of my health, has gone decidedly pear-shaped in the past few weeks and I’ve found myself stuck at home not knowing from one day to the next whether or not I’m going to be able to do any serious reading and thinking.  I’ve had to give up my teaching and support work for the moment and this, as you can imagine, has been really frustrating.  So, in order to feel that I’m doing something useful, I’ve gone back to reading ARCs through the good offices of NetGalley. This suits me perfectly at present because most of the books aren’t going to be published for some weeks and so I can read and review them on the good days and then store away the accompanying posts until the books become generally available.  However,  it does mean that my reading is limited by what NetGalley makes available and the only books at the moment that I am even remotely interested in are all crime novels.

Of course, on those good days I am also reading other material, but all the really interesting stuff takes a little bit more brain and definitely more continuity than I can offer at present and so is tending to pile up waiting for better times.  I have recently finished Penelope Fitzgerald’s wonderful novel, Offshore, and I even wrote a cracking good post (if I say it as shouldn’t) about it.  Unfortunately, this was last Wednesday afternoon, when the wind and the rain here were doing a passable imitation of Lear’s blasted heath and it wasn’t until I tried to publish it that I discovered my broadband connection was down, that I had been working offline for all but eighty words of a nine hundred word post and consequently it hadn’t been automatically backing up.  When I pressed the publish button the whole thing, with the exception of the first paragraph, was wiped out of existence.  Let me tell you, there was much gnashing of teeth and turning of the air blue. The Bears had to put their paws in their ears and very nearly sent me to wash my mouth out with soap and water.  I will re-write the post at some point but there is little more disheartening than having slaved over a piece of writing only to then find you have got to do it again.  All this is being saved to Pages paragraph by paragraph as I write!

The one book I really regret having not yet got round to is the January pick from Heywood Hill, Javier Marías’ A Heart so White, but I promise that this is the next one up as soon as I’ve finished my current book group read, Stephen Dau’s The Book of Jonas, which I will definitely be writing about because it is a most unusual piece of work.  Fortunately, February’s book hasn’t yet arrived so I’m not feeling too pressured.

And a final note, again, I’m afraid, just for those of you who are local.  I’ve just received notification from the RSC of two sessions that they are running with Hilary Mantel about Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.  The first is on Saturday March 22nd at 11.15 and is just a very short (45mins) discussion between Mantel and Mike Poulton, who adapted the novels for the stage, but the second, which is on the Sunday, is a five hour affair from 11.00, entitled Cromwell’s Court and is a day of talks exploring the context of the novels with Mantel and various Tudor experts.  I think these are open to general bookings and if you’re interested I suggest you get in quickly because tickets are going fast.  Again, do let me know if you are going to be there.  It would be great to meet up.

25 thoughts on “Weekly Fragments ~ Monday February 10th

  1. I do hope your health improves, but I’m glad you can still read!

    I can sympathise with the blog problems – there has been gnashing of teeth here too this weekend as my blog seems to have gone haywire and even my son can’t see what is wrong with it! So, there will be no posts from me until he’s sorted it – I have every confidence he will – it’s just a matter of time. I’ve decided to write my posts in Word and paste them in when the blog is back to normal.

    It’s a pity I can’t get to the RSC easily now!

    1. It is a pity, Margaret. It would have been nice to spend the day together. I hope the blog gets sorted out soon. Yesterday it would have been quicker to write you a letter and hand deliver it than send you an email!

  2. I’m very sorry to hear about your health problems, Alex. I do hope things start to improve for you soon, and damn those computers! Horribly frustrating to finish a satisfying post only for it to be obliterated.

    1. Horribly frustrating was not exactly what I said, Susan, but WordPress would probably censor me if I were to accurately report my response!

  3. Hope you’re feeling better very soon, Alex. Frustrating indeed. I
    do look forward to your review of Offshore–which I read in Oct ’92–
    and have a * by it. I can’t wait to be reminded what it was about!

  4. Oh no! I am sorry to hear about your health troubles. I do hope you feel better soon. And losing a good post like that doesn’t help, how frustrating! How awesome about the RSC events! You will be going? If so you have to report back for the rest of us!

    1. I’ve booked Stefaine and I certainly intend to be there. However, as I write this I am watching the snow that is falling so heavily that I can’t see out of the window and wondering if I may have to dig myself out. So given our current unpredictable weather, I am promising nothing!

  5. So sorry to hear about your health problems, Alex – I hope you feel better soon. And aaargh! re losing the post – nothing more frustrating! I write all my reviews in Word and just copy and paste them into WP, but can still lose all the formatting etc if things go wrong. NetGalley has been very crime-heavy recently – the fiction side seems to be very quiet at the moment. But I’m finding that on pre-orders too – not much new lit-fic that’s really tempting me. Still, gives me time for all the Great American Novels I’m supposed to be reading…

    1. I have learnt my lesson, FF, believe me. You’re right about the paucity of good literary fiction at the moment. I went and had a thorough mooch round Waterstones over the weekend and there was very little that appealed to me.

  6. I hope things improve for you soon, Alex. I think it’s quite understandable that you’ve had to change your reading plans to fit the circumstances. How annoying that you lost a post after putting so much time and effort into it! I’ll look forward to reading the re-written version when you get round to it.

  7. I’m so sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. It is strange, though, how crime novels are especially appealing when we don’t feel well.

    1. I join everyone else in being sorry to hear that serious sustained reading is difficult just now. I am glad that crime fiction means you can read something – at least there are a lot of choices of good intelligent reads out there. I wonder if Orwell’s category of “good bad book” applies to modern crime fiction?

  8. Oh, if it weren’t such a long swim – that session with RSC and Hilary Mantel sounds fantastic. For the first quarter of Wolf Hall I was trying to make that Cromwell into the other Cromwell. (I shouldn’t confess such things publicly – I majored in history!) Feel better.

  9. I am so very sorry to hear about your health! How immensely frustrating for you. And as for losing a whole post… well, I’ve had it happen in the past and the Bears would not have liked to witness it. Still, I am glad that you are getting some good crime coming your way as comfort food, and as a devoted fan of Penelope Fitzgerald, I’ll be very interested indeed in your review, when you regain the strength to post it….

    1. I’m halfway through re-writing it Litlove, but somehow it is never as easy the second time around, is it? Why is that? It ought to be easier given that you’ve already thought it through once.

  10. Oodles of sympathy coming your way, not that they are much practical help but at least you’ll know that we care about you. I was getting excited about the prospect of reading your Offshore review since I didnt take to that book at all and I thought you might be able to show me why I was wrong. As for NetGalley, its very hit and miss I’ve found…

    1. I’m getting there with the rewrite, but of course it has to fit in with things I’d already intended to write. But I’m typing this listening to everything that other people around the country are suffering from and I really should not be complaining.

      1. The weather misery does out things into perspective. I’m on the other side of the Atlantic at the moment trying to deal with temperatures of minus 1 F which I’m told is minus 18C. All I know is that it’s darn cold.

  11. Alex, I’m so sorry about your health problems. It’s been a hard winter here too. Does weather have much to do with triggering yours, do you know? You have had so much rain over there this winter. We have been biting cold for much of it, well below freezing temps for all winter, here.

    There is something so annoying about technology when it doesn’t quite work when it should, isn’t there? Lately I’m having problems leaving any comments on so many blogs, I wonder if blogspot has been black marked in some way! Hoping it will work here, my first comment on your later post about Harry Birmingham disappeared when I went to post it. Grr. I hope you feel better soon.

    1. This and your other post found its way into my spam box, Susan, although I have no idea why. But never mind, if it keeps happening I always check my spam before deleting it. I’m afraid my health problems are not going to go away with the coming of any better weather but it is always easier to cope with when the sun shines. The only compensation for all the rain and fooding we’ve had this year is that it has been nowhere near as cold as the past three years, so at least we haven’t been spending as much on heating. However, I think overall I would rather have the cold. I really don’t do rain!

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