Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Grief (and Other) Works

So what have I been reading?

Not much in the sense of ink-on-paper books, which I regret.
I have bought a few hard copy books this year, but I spend less time sitting down than I used to, and I don't have the skills to exercise and read at the same time.

So I can tell you I have bought Black Wave... but have not got beyond the first chapter.
And Story Genius - unopened.
I swallowed whole a Lucy Dillon novel All I Ever Wanted so promptly bought The Secret of Happy Ever After , but didn't get past the first few pages.

However, I have been "reading"  plenty of audiobooks.  Not at the gym, but certainly on long walks round the fields, on train journeys, while knitting, and in the hours before dawn when sleep evades me.

My most mammoth read to date has been City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg.
At 37 hours and 54 minutes it took me three months to get through and I admit I almost gave up several times when I failed to make the necessary connections between the various characters as the plot unfolded.
If you liked Underworld by Don Delillo I think you might like this.
At some points I felt like I was immersed in one of those interminable "journey through the post-apocalytic city" dreams which used to haunt me.
A couple of the characters will stay with me for a while:  Charlie and Mercer in particular.
But it really was awfully long.

Just now I am listening to Grief Works by Julia Samuel.
This is a book about loss and how different people deal with it.
I would say it is essential reading for anyone in a bereaved state.
Several of the stories have struck a chord with me.
It is incredibly helpful to realise that the waves of insanity I experience are not unique to me.
While tackling a serious issue, it can be quite a funny book because of the author's underlying compassionate humour.
One woman homes in on inappropriate romantic connections "like a heat seeking missile" after the death of her loved one.
I love that description of a truly self-destructive compulsion in the aftermath of loss.
Except there is no "aftermath": it's a constant, always ready to catch you out.
I see FL quite often in the street.
I hear his voice in an entirely different accent.
It unhinges me sometimes.
It helps to know that this is "normal".

I had a backlog of Audible credits after the City on Fire marathon and perhaps rashly downloaded City of Friends, the latest Joanna Trollope novel.
I managed the first two chapters before my irritation with a jangling cavalcade of regional accents got the better of me and I gave up.  I might come back to it one day.

Next up is In The Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant.
I'm really looking forward to that one:  Lucrezia Borgia, Machiavelli - fantastic!

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