Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The New Year

Happy New Year to all! The Christmas/ New Year period has not proven to be good for either reading or blogging for me. Too much food, too much alcohol and too much racing around the country to various friends and relatives. While all of these things are wonderful in themselves, they have left little time for anything else.

Anyway, before Christmas I had begun to think, like many other bloggers, about what I would classify as my literary highlights of 2006. I tend to not keep up with current releases, since most of my books are bought second hand (my current read- Sarah Waters' The Night Watch- being a decadent exception) so my highlights wouldn't make any of the newspapers' 'best books' lists.

The absolute discovery of the year for me was Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. I've no idea why I left it so long to read this novel, but I was blown away by it. Nabokov creates a feeling of overwhelming discomfort, luring the reader into a relationship with an abhorrent but charismatic central character. I found myself on some level liking Humbert Humbert at the same time as being repulsed by his motivations and actions. Nabokov's wordplay and joy with language help to balance the confronting material and mean that Lolita is a surprisingly funny novel- certainly not something that I expected.

Other highlights of the past year would include two great female novelists: The Radiant Way by Margaret Drabble, which has made me a great fan of her work, and Kate Grenville's The Secret River. For pure 'eww' value I also have to mention Perfume by Patrick Suskind, probably one of the most disturbing and unforgettable novels I have ever read- ever wondered how to make perfume out of dead people? Patrick Suskind has and is happy to share...

4 comments:

naridu said...

ah I loved Perfume it was beautifully written and disturbingly provoking just the way I like it. There is a film coming out later in January and I can't wait to see how they'll portray that final amazing scene ;)

Dorothy W. said...

Happy New Year! I haven't done much reading either over this break, now that I think about it ...

jess said...

I'm still not sure whether I loved Perfume or not, but it was certainly powerful and original. I just can't imagine a film version. I'll definitely check it out though!

Thanks Dorothy. Happy New Year to you too! I'm slowly getting back into reading but am now moving to another city- also not good for reading...

acquisitionist said...

Hiya. I too love the verbal feast that Lolita offers up. The opening lines are just so gripping, and Nabokov certainly delivers. I also like his novella Pnin .