Again just another ok read, though I will admit that it was less formulaic than the last one I read. I liked that it wasn’t predictable in that there wasn’t really anything to predict. It was just an easy read that was gentle on a tired brain which is just what the tired brain needs sometimes. Like right now my brain needs someone else to type this review because I am so tired guys….
I’m going to admit that my first experience with Bookshots was a little disappointing. I feel kind of bad when I don’t enjoy a book…like I’m being mean. It was kind of a little bit bland though. Kind of like the CSI of crime fiction. Like it’s cool and a little mindless so you don’t have to think too hard and it’s something to keep you busy, but it’s not the height of brilliant entertainment, you know? A bit on the formulaic side but not so terrible that I at all felt like I needed to put it down and give up. It was actually a pretty decent choice for while I was on vacation.
This little book is a sweet soliloquy by a librarian woman as she converses with a man who accidentally spent the night in the library. If nothing else, the idea of the book intrigues me and I have to admit that I currently feel inspired to attempt something similar. I love the style of it. It’s so different. I made a couple of notes for how I would do mine and I do love my idea already. Let’s see if I actually complete it!
A Long Night at Abu Simbel is a sweetish collection of some stories that involve cats. Which I suppose is why there is a cat on the cover? This book is tiny which is kind of what drew me to it I will admit. Like “look how cute and tiny the book I’m reading is”. I might be a silly human. But I do love short stories. And this book had three of them in it so that was lovely.
Have I mentioned that I love Aimee Bender yet? I wonder: If I start experimenting with drugs would I be able to come up with this sort of writing? That would be great. Pity I can’t afford drugs. Silly drugs, I mean, of course. Like mushrooms or whatever it is that makes things look a little brighter and sparklier. I’m giving this book a 5 because I think that being the type of person who writes these sort of weird and confusing-for-most-people stories is kind of important. Year ago when I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake I did not love it as I expected to because I hadn’t been expecting magical realism (I knew little of the genre back then) and I was almost frightened by the darkness of it. I have kind of evolved since then, and am honestly kind of writing in that direction myself now. I have become more open to obscure voices sharing beautiful content. I am so grateful to be meeting these voices. They are growing me. Even when I don’t like them, they are growing me. I have learned to set aside expectations and receive what I am given instead of bemoaning what I have not. I cannot help now but envy Ms. Bender. How free she is in spirit. How unconventionally wise. How odd. How exquisite. How real. I should read Lemon Cake with my fresher eyes now. Soon.
This is the second time I’ve read this book and I think maybe this time I enjoyed it even more. I know when you have a library of 700+ unread books it’s silly to go back to something you’ve already experienced but The Colour Master kind of got me writing again and so it seemed only natural to turn back and revisit the other quirks of Aimee Bender. The richness of the bizarre in these books just soothes my soul. I feel massively influenced by Aimee’s writing, which I suppose is weird. If you read my stuff it’s probably nothing like her writing except for the occasional elements of magical realism. But she is divine. Otherwordly even. And she has certainly done an incredible job of sparking off my creativity for the year.
Can I mark a book five stars purely because my own ideas have been going haywire since I started reading it? That seems fair, doesn’t it? I have such a love for Aimee Bender despite the fact that I’m not nearly quirky enough to understand half of what she is saying. She gives me pause, though. The kind of pause that is hopeful with regards to my own self and my own abilities. I have lead a life of such rules. Always. This is what you have to do to be an acceptable girl. An acceptable scholar. An acceptable human. All the wrong things I have blamed on myself: my unacceptableness, my inability to grasp the rules. The rules of how you should be in order to be acceptable. But all of Aimee is just bonkers a bit. And if Aimee can go around being bonkers and making up her own rules and just writing whatever the hell story she feels like writing even though sometimes they don’t make sense even when they do make sense. Well then maybe I can give up this list of rules and just do what I want to do too, right? I love you, Aimee. Thank you.
Hmmm…. I will admit (as I already have on numerous occasions during the consumption of this book) that I may be a little lacking in the amount of intelligence required to “get” it. I imagine others got it from the beginning but it took me a really long time! That said: I think I finally did “get” it and so by the time I got to the end I was very glad to have persevered even though I considered giving up quite a few times.
Basically Nora and Effie are telling each other stories about their lives. Effie’s story takes up most of the book (and if it feels like nothing happens the entire time) with Nora adding her little bits here and there. All if it a long pre-amble to the point which nicely ties up at the end.
I think, in part, that Kate Atkinson might have been poking a little bit of fun with this novel. Of course I could be entirely wrong and maybe obnoxious, and maybe I should just shush with my assumptions… but someone once credited me for parallels in my own novel that I certainly didn’t put there on purpose and it was kind of lovely because I felt like it made me look clever so maybe other authors also like it when people go “oh maybe this is what she meant”.
The thing is this: I remember reading so many novels in the late 90s and early 2000s that seemed to have very little plot. Like you got to the end and you were like, “ok…but…and?” and it was quite confusing. I specifically remember these sorts of stories because they kind of made me feel hopeful for my own career as a writer. Like gosh, Nadine, you don’t even really have to come up with a plot if you’re not capable, you can just write things and then say it’s a book and no one can say “that’s not a book” because look here this has no plot and it IS a book it has a cover and everything!
So I think KA was playing with the idea of that trend a little. Poking fun at it. Pointing it out. Nora moans that Effie’s story is weird and plotless and that there are too many characters and how must she remember all these people etc and she bemoans the lack of intrigue. All the while KA is threading the story with actual intrigue that you only get to enjoy once you have consumed it as a whole.
So it’s sort of like those weird plotless books that I used to read in my late teens, but at the same time it isn’t because it’s only pretending to be that.
I’m quite impressed really.
And very untalented…
I’m charmed. I’ve been a crime fiction reader pretty much for as long as I’ve been a reader. In Case Histories, Kate Atkinson kind of blends this usually more “easy reading” genre with just the right amount of family drama to make you feel like you’ve read something significant. I won’t say it was a very twisty-turny sort of read, but her style of writing plays well in the mind and her characters are quite memorable. The sort of reading that leads you to kind of smile and feel grateful that this time you got through a work of fiction without too many traumatic wounds. Sadly I don’t have the next book in the Jackson Brodie series (I have the 4th) so I’m certainly going to have to do some searching at my local second hand book stores. I’m weirdly excited about this prospect…