Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Pleasure Of Reading

One of the delights of being on holiday is that you can gorge yourself on reading without feeling guilty about neglected chores. And that's exactly what I've been doing. I don't normally review books in this blog because I've got a Goodreads page where I do all that, but every now and then I read something that strikes me as so special I really must mention it. In this case it's The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It's such an enormous pleasure to read, so solidly and carefully made, so emotionally involving that I feel quite reassured about the state of the contemporary British novel.

Perhaps that sounds silly but you read so much pompous twaddle like - well perhaps I'd better not say - and you think, 'God, is this the best we can do nowadays?' But then along comes Sarah Waters and you find yourself thinking, 'Bloody hell, this is like some hitherto undiscovered masterpiece by a classic nineteenth century author, except it's modern at the same time.'

Only a couple of days ago I said in a post that, as an author of whatever genre it's all too easy to be intimidated by master writers whether alive or dead. But Sarah Waters doesn't intimidate; there's nothing pretentious or showy about the writing. It's just an incredibly good piece of work. I know that when I get to the end I will be distraught that it's over but I still can't bear to put it down.

I remember having that feeling as a child, taking books home from the library and losing myself in them for days, getting to the end and feeling like I had lived part of somebody else's life. It's so good to recapture that.

3 comments:

Sue Hyams said...

Oh, yes, I do remember that feeling! It's probably the main reason I write. I remember being utterly transported when I read the Narnia books as a child, and it was so magical. I would love to write something that gives someone else that experience, but boy is it hard to do!

Brian Keaney said...

You and me both, Sue.

Back-to-School said...

yes! I do confirm that feeling. Every time I look look on my old notes, magazines and books, I do remember my college and high school life and it is very pleasurable to go on that way. I been missing those memories.