Sunday, September 12, 2010

Holding-pattern post

By Tracy

I'm conscious of not having posted for ages. I've been very busy with PhD work for one thing.

Recently read or still reading: Gillian Mears, The Mint Lawn, Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water, Mary McCarthy, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (this one I haven't finished yet).

The Gillian Mears novel was very well-written but disturbing in its protagonist/narrator's apparent lack of compassion or generosity toward other people. The Highsmith was ok: not her absolute best, but it had its moments.

The McCarthy is elegantly written but pushing the limits of credibility. She does address this by having after-comments in each section, noting where other people's memories or her own doubts contest what she had written earlier. But the "agonies" of the childhood period seem very overplayed. (Still, I'll eventually finish it.)

I also squeezed in Simenon's The Little Man from Archangel, which was (to my mind) faultless. (John thought it was the best book of existential angst -- better than Sartre's Nausea or Camus's The Fall -- though acknowledging Simenon was not an existentialist in their sense.)

For my part, no Simenon novel has ever disappointed me yet.