Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Booker Sighs

I have been searching for a little decent reading for my two weeks holiday. I'm hoping that I'll be having such an exciting time I won't have time to read - though I know I'll be disappointed if I don't rack up at least a couple of novels during the two weeks.
I have been known to pack previously read books for holiday trips. This could be likened to taking a couple of old friends along rather than gambling that at least some of the people you meet there might not resemble several shades of awfulness and actually enhance the holiday experience. Old friends and previously read books won't let you down by being a dreadful disappointment, but they won't create surprises or set the holiday ablaze either. With them you pretty much know how things will turn out.
A half-way house might be to select new books by familiar authors. They're unlikely to let you down, and might just throw up a new challenge. This happened to me a couple of years ago with a certain (J)ames (G)raham Ballard. I had bought and packed Cocaine Nights, Super Cannes and High Rise having read and enjoyed Empire of the Sun and its sequel, The Kindness of Women. I had no idea that one of Ballard's main themes away from these loosely autobiographical, most famous(to me anyway)of his books is the exploration of how people either cope with or respond to a breakdown in the usual order of things.
Typically this will be through some kind of catastrophe where accepted values are rendered meaningless; or through a collective psychosis prompted by shared feelings of desperation and boredom brought on by the pamperings of technology and consumerism. In Ballard's world the human reaction always seems to be a return to baser instincts when feelings of despair - whatever the cause - are faced, tempting back an unholy trinity, that devilish threesome of darkly scandalous vices: crime, perverted sex, and violence to help provide the true meaning of life.

Hmmm. Probably not the best happy holiday reading. I think I'll go with the newest books by two of my favourite authors: Author Author by David Lodge, and Any Human Heart by William Boyd.

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