You’re Telling me Lies

January has been a funny old month. For me it didn’t really begin ( in the sense of signalling the boringly familiar detox routine ) until the second week because of some post-Xmas celebrations and the Hullabaloo over the start of City of Culture ( all excellent and enjoyable stuff ) Yet even with a late start there still seemed a lot of month left, as the days plodded slowly onwards towards an ever distant pay day. Not to mention the weird weather which of course is nothing to do with climate change because according to President Fart that doesn’t exist…

My reading matter has mirrored this jumbled time: it’s been, well, eclectic would probably be the posh word to use. Firstly, I read a book by a friend of a friend which to me illustrated many of the positives and negatives that are attached to self-publishing. I’ve nothing against the latter. After all, it’s what many famous writers such as Dickens and Virginia Woolf did and how many writers today make a very good living. But there remains the old chestnut of quality control and it does seem better suited to genre fiction rather than literary fiction, fans of the former playing a big part in critiquing and shaping the work as it’s developed. When a writer has talent and gets professional support in terms of editing etc then the result can be indistinguishable from conventionally published work. This is certainly the case with another book I read at the end of last year, Rob Ashman’s Those That Remain, a crime thriller which is Lee Childesque in its clipped style, twists and turns, and gritty violence. I’ll declare an interest here – Rob is a friend and we had a joint book launch – but facts are facts ( unless you’re President Fart ) and Those That Remain is a good read.

I followed this with two Young Adult novels which I’d been directed towards for research purposes. One of these was Louise Rennison’s  Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. What a great exuberant title!! ( warranting triple exclamation marks really )It was snigger out loud funny, using the diary form like Bridget Jones and Adrian Mole to convey teenage angst.

From there to Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. This very much had the flavour of an issue based YA text: in this case the issue being rape. I guess it might be what has been termed a ‘crossover’ or ‘New Adult’ ( eg 18-25 ) novel ( I found a review in The Guardian’s children’s section though it was shelved amongst adult novels ) The bleak ending, which offers no hope or indeed resolution, works against the assumption of a younger reader while the irony of the title tells you the author’s take on the subject. Although it was on the whole an OK read, I felt the protagonist Emma’s thoughts and thus the narrative became rather repetitive.

Finally, a great book to get your teeth into while waiting for petite and romantic February to tiptoe in: The Muse by Jesse Burton, famous for her debut novel The Miniaturist. I didn’t rave about the latter as many did ( it sold over a million copies ) finding it a bit fussy and, in parts, unconvincing. The Muse, on the other hand, is a more straightforward work alternating between 60s London and Spain in the 1930s. By ‘straightforward’ I don’t mean to imply there’s not some brilliant twists and the narrative, which centres on a piece of artwork and explores the notion of female creativity, is a jigsaw. But I found it to be a jigsaw that once the edge pieces, or plot framework, were in place slotted together effectively and naturally. Highly recommended.

I’ll finish by re-writing the last line of January by the 70s band Pilot. Ahh (wistful sigh )… they don’t write lyrics like that anymore. Thank God.

January, sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me
You make me sad with your eyes
You’re telling me lies
Do go, do go

Leave a comment

Your comment