April was a reading mishmash. From the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 Longlist, Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn was a revelation and delight. Van Llewyn focuses on the oppressive nature and brutality of life under the Ceausescu regimen through a series of vignettes, punctuated with quite matter-of-fact but truly surreal moments. If I was going to compare it to anything it would be as a companion to Kurkov’s Death And The Penguin or maybe The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman.
Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race was challenging and uncomfortable but one of the most enlightening books I’ve read. Covering white privilege, black feminism, intersectionality and structural racism – it may be the first book I have ever read that felt ‘important’ and an essential book for the modern British reader.
I’m struggling with The Iliad. The focus on four days of the siege of Troy means it has less pace and breadth than The Odyssey. And Homer does love a list. I hope I wasn’t meant to memorise all those soldiers and their homelands from chapter three. Anyway, I’m tasking myself with a chapter per day. It makes the whole project seem more manageable but means it will stretch deep into May.
What else? Daisy Jones & The Six and The Dreamers (although stylistically very different, with one written in a faux interview style and the other with a trance-inducing lyricism – they are books you can devour in a sitting), Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson (from the GoodReads reviews, more enjoyable if you’re a Suede fan) and Christina Patterson’s The Art of Not Falling Apart. I tried repeatedly to get on with Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald (@Backlisted podcast recommendation) but nothing clicking at the moment.