Beginning with Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson. If you’ve read Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, you’ll be back in familiar territory as Winterson talks about her troubled formative years with her adopted parents. This book also tells of her search – and discovery – of her birth mother. Beautiful writing, as always, and Winterson is never afraid to take a long, honest look at herself and her actions. That’s brave.
I picked up a collection of Rilke’s Poems (not the book pictured, but close enough to give an example), because he is one of those poets who is spoken of with almost universal respect, if not adoration, and – to my embarrassment – I realised I hadn’t read of his work. So I wanted to turn that situation around, especially his ‘Letters to a Young Poet’.
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris was next and I admit to a weird moment when I sat down to read it. Flicking through, I saw I’d read a number of these essays before, like my favourite ‘Laugh, Kookaburra’, in The New Yorker. And then, in regards to some of the others, thinking of his fictionalised stories, they didn’t feel like satire… more like downright mean. The one thing I’ve always liked about Sedaris, and it is a talent, is his ability to balance humour with incisive commentary. That was missing in some of these pieces. But it is Sedaris, so there are laugh out loud parts too.
Okay, here we are, at the two books I’m particularly excited about. By Blood We Live is Glen Duncan’s latest novel, and the third in his ‘The Last Werewolf’ trilogy. I’m already a third of the way through and I just got it. There are some authors I sit down with – even if it’s not their best work – and you just exhale and go “ahhh… this is going to be a fun ride”. Duncan is smart and funny, a sexy combo.
Last, I present The Weird, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. At over 1,000 pages, it is a monster, and its table of contents reads like a damn canon of speculative writers from over the generations. I’m currently reading George RR Martin’s ‘Sandkings’, which won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Novelette in 1979. Very good.
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Just in time for Mother’s Day!