Currently Reading: March Round-Up

I have decided that a monthly Round-Up should feature on the blog. Such posts will summarise what I have read every month. The next few months are likely to be very brief Round-Ups, given the inevitable revision and work that I will have to start doing soon in preparation for my A2 examinations in June.

And now, March…

White Noise – Don DeLillo

White Noise is Don DeLillo’s eight novel, coined as his “breakout” work and a prime example of postmodern literature. The novel took me considerably longer to read than I first anticipated – I’m not sure whether this is due to my reaction to the prose style or a lack of enjoyment on my part. It took me a while to get into, especially since I found the first of the part “slow-moving”, with not that much happening in terms of the plot or character development. As I continued to read the book, I grew fonder of it. I rated it 4/5 stars on Goodreads as I particularly enjoyed the ending of the novel and the section near the start about ‘THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA’:

“No one sees the barn,” he [Murray] said finally.
A long silence followed.
“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.

Dear Illusion – Kingsley Amis 

I bought Dear Illusion as part of the Penguin Modern Mini Classics anniversary series. At just 60 small pages, it was a quick read that fitted nicely in my coat pocket.

I suppose it was conceited of me. But it was fun. And I felt like getting a bit of my own back on some of the people who’d conned and flattered me into wasting all those years.

Dear Illusion is a short and honest story about the nullity of artistic criticism, casting a dark and self-critical narrative on the insufferable pretence of the art world, and the sycophants who inhabit it. It’s a humorous read, but a lack of description on the part of one main character made it, in my opinion, difficult to understand the character’s motives. In brief, personally I have found many other short stories far more enjoyable to read.

How to Be Both – Ali Smith

Ali Smith’s How to Be Both was my favourite read of the month. I decided to read the novel after attending Smith’s lecture at UEA. I particularly enjoyed reading about George, a 15 year old girl from Cambridge, following the death of her mother. Her section merges accounts of the past and the present, presenting her mum as both alive and dead.

…George is appalled by history, its only redeeming feature being that it tends to be well and truly over.

I thoroughly recommend this book. It is especially interesting to read other people’s reviews and reactions in regards to what part their version of the book began with (mine began with the painter, Francesco del Cossa). Does the order of the part have an affect on how the reader responds to the text? It is an interesting concept to ponder.

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  1. Great list! Ali Smith’s was one of my favourites of last year. My copy began with George’s story, which eased you into the narrative nicely, but made for a jarring transition to the vivid description of Francesco del Cossa’s world. This calls for a re-read in the opposite direction…

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