The benefits of the post-election lull continue, as we are all now free to turn our attention to more entertaining topics. Like books, f’r’instance!
With the abeyance of political stories, NPR makes for much more pleasant listening in the mornings. Today, I heard that M.T. Anderson, author of the first book reviewed here on the Bookish Dark, has won a National Book Award for his young adult novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. The synopsis alone is fascinating; we may be paying a return visit to Mr. Anderson’s oeuvre soon.
I also learned that Kingsley Amis was a great supporter of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels; he felt both Fleming’s writing and the character of Bond were sorely underrated in literary circles, due to pure snobery. In 1965, he wrote The Book of Bond, a guide to living in Bond style, though he published it under a pseudonym. (There’s helping out a writer you admire, and then there’s risking your own literary reputation to do it, apparently.) Christopher Hitchens, longtime Amis family friend, was interviewed about the book (apropos of nothing I could discern, except perhaps the nth version of Casino Royale being released this week.) I laughed out loud when Hitchens pointed out that Kingsley didn’t think the Bond lifestyle was all that terribly sexy: on his adventures, Bond generally rates just one woman, and that, Kingsley said, was about what a British man of average attraction and income might expect on an average business trip!
In my own book life, I have just been through the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa and its global impacts with capable guide Simon Winchester, and have now happily returned my attention to the redoubtable Mary Russell and her still-sexy-at-sixty husband, Sherlock Holmes, as they return to the scene of one of his greatest cases, the Hound of the Baskervilles, in The Moor. These books are a nearly indescribable delight to me; coming back into their story is a cool, refreshing dip for a mind over-tired from travels in the wider literary world. The friend who recommended the series to me also advised that I read no more than two in a row without breaking them up with other books, just so I wouldn’t run out of them too soon. She’s on the eighth and (so far) last of the series, so I’m taking her advice as from one who knows, but it’s not easy to restrain myself. I’d very much like to shut myself up in my room and not come out ’til I’ve finished the lot.
What books are keeping you company these days?