Saturday, 23 April 2011

Kate's Reading Challenge 2011: Books 8 - 11

8. ? by ? (?, 2011)

Book eight demands a rather enigmatic blog as I am not yet able to reveal exactly what it is, so instead, here's a few teasers...

~ It is a psychological novella revolving around a group of four male friends.
~ The writing is astute, descriptive and analytical.
~ I thought it was excellent and I read the whole thing in a day.

9. "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene (Vintage, 2004)

One of Graham Greene's "Catholic novels" - but so much more than just a novel about religion. Greene's plots are so fantastically clever - this novel is told (predominantly) from the perspective of Maurice Bendrix, a writer who has had a love affair with married woman Sarah, which she ends suddenly and without explanation. Baffled and heartbroken Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, whilst at the same time forming a fragile and uncomfortable friendship with her completely oblivious husband.

The twists and turns in the plot are at times comparable to those of a Shakespearean tragedy and Maurice's occupation allows for some thought-provoking prose about the role of the writer.

This was my second experience of Graham Greene and whilst in all honesty I have to say that I preferred "Brighton Rock" to "The End of the Affair" this novel is another excellent example of Greene's master craftsmanship and sensitive, psychological style.

10. "Eating with the Pilgrims" by Calvin Trillin (Penguin, 2011)
A bit of a cheat for my non-fiction book this time, this little book (a glorious 99 pages) of food essays is part of Penguin's new "Great Food" series. From the author of "Tepper isn't going out", (The final book in my 2010 reading challenge) "Eating with the Pilgrims" is a hilarious collection of writings about New York bagels, spaghetti carbonara, Buffalo chicken wings and an incredible Chinese chef, whose refusal to stay in one restaurant results in an ongoing man-hunt by his hoards of hungry, determined fans.

The two essays revolving around a pair unsightly sea creatures; the catfish and the monkfish, stood out as being particularly funny. Trillin's valliant attempt to get his fussy, salad-hating daughter to sample some catfish is followed by a discussion of butchering a monkfish, an animal that is so horribly unattractive that "it makes the catfish look like Robert Redford!"

Throughout the tone is both warm and sarcastic and the descriptions of some of the New York eateries made me want to hop straight on a plane. In fact, this is perhaps the only level on which this book failed me - as I was desperately trying to avoid reading anything that made me want to go on holiday! Oops!


Susanne said...

Well - that's very tantalising! When can you let the cat out of the bag for real?

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights said...

Very soon Susanne!