You’d think with two bank holidays and some empty weekends I would have read a lot in April, but bearing in mind that every other read is a 60-page mini book, I wasn’t especially prolific. However, I did have some lovely days in the Wye Valley with my mum, some good times (and unfortunately a little too much sun) with friends and I did a fair amount of sorting out books for my EU Reading Challenge.
I also watched some great films (I highly recommend Hearts Beat Loud, now on Netflix, and Eagle vs Shark, now on Amazon Prime Video) and great TV (yes, I am up to date with Game of Thrones – thankfully, as overheard conversations at work this week have been spoilerific). It’s a wonder I read any books at all, frankly.
The Last of Chéri by Colette
The sequel to the novella Chéri set shortly after the First World War, this is a melancholic turn that arguably makes the narcissistic main character at least a little bit sympathetic.
Fame by Andy Warhol
Oof, I do not think I would have liked Warhol if I’d met him in person. This set of three essays are super-waffly, self-contradictory treatises on love, beauty and fame. Honestly, I don’t think Warhol contributed an interesting thought on any of these topics.
Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
This is an enjoyable crime thriller with a slightly quirky, indie feel to it (possibly related to its setting in Iceland). It’s the first in a series about lawyer Thóra Guðmundsdóttir and I’m sufficiently interested that I might just pick up book two soon.
The Haunted Boy by Carson McCullers
Unquestionably my favourite Penguin Modern mini-book so far, this is a set of three McCullers short stories: “The haunted boy”, “The sojourner” and “A domestic dilemma”. I love McCullers’ use of language and the slightly twisty gothic atmosphere that she conjures.
The Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai
My first book for the EU Reading Challenge, this is a dark tale about a small Hungarian town where a foreign circus has arrived, along with a ragtag crowd of followers. The newcomers, and the circus’s advertised claim to have a stuffed blue whale in its enormous truck, add a nervous sense of distrust to a town already on edge. It’s gorgeously written, if hard work.
The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges
I think I had only read one Borges short story previously, but his work is revered by many people whose tastes I share and/or respect so I was looking forward to this Penguin Modern mini-book. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it either. I liked the layers of storytelling, with tales within tales, and I liked the variety of characters, but I also got bored sometimes.
The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff
My second book for the EU Reading Challenge, this is an odd tale centring around a manuscript (called The Polyglot Lovers) that may or may not be a masterpiece. It starts brilliantly, with Ellinor recounting her dabbles in Internet dating, which lead her from small-town southern Sweden to Copenhagen to Stockholm. I loved Ellinor and her voice, and frankly the two-thirds of the book written in other voices just weren’t as good.