Books I’m reading or have read recently, some new and some old. First the new:
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell. This is the last of Mankell’s Wallander novels. It is a blend of international intrigue and family relationships, mainly set in the part of southern Sweden familiar to readers of the other books in the series. But as to the conclusion — all I can say is — poor Kurt Wallander!
The School of Night by Louis Bayard. I’ve just started this one. Nice chewy prose — sort of like calamari. Rather self-consciously good, but still a good read, so far.
Now into the past:
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I first read this in the 80s, when it was a new sensation. I remembered it as dark and horrifying and thought it would be a good fictional follow-up to Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, which I read a couple of months ago. What strikes me now about Sophie’s Choice, however, is a truly odd similarity — probably in my mind alone — between it and a novel by Richard Adams, The Girl in a Swing. The latter lacks the background of the mass murders of WWII, but the sexual anxieties of the narrator, the fascination and mystery of the female protagonist, and the final revelations do have something in common.
Rising from the Plains by John McPhee. I was moved to read this after I finished his The Control of Nature. Few besides McPhee could render the subject of Wyoming geology (interwoven with the biography of a notable geologist) so fascinating. I intend to track down his other books on geology soon.
King Jesus by Robert Graves. If I don’t re-start reading this one, I probably never will. I picked it up after reading The Messianic Legacy by the holy blood and holy grail gang, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. I enjoyed their first book so thought this one would be as intriguing, but got bogged down in too much detail about things that didn’t strike me as terribly interesting. The reference to Graves’s novel did sound interesting, but so far I’ve let myself be sidetracked by other things.
Such as L. Sprague de Camp’s biography of H.P. Lovecraft. HPL is, among many other things, the creator of Herbert West, who became the central character of my own trilogy, so I have a lasting interest in him. In addition to this biography, I am about to embark on H.P. Lovecraft: four decades of criticism, edited by that notable expert on HPL, S.T. Joshi.
All this reading and the garden in the full flush of June is why this is a relatively short posting. And there’s bee-watching to do as well.