It’s been rather quite round here lately. Since I last posted I have spent another seventy minutes in the dentist chair, with the inevitable aftermath, and then had the household disruption of having my old boiler and the associated hot tank ripped out and a new, more ethical boiler, installed. In fact, the father and son team who carried out the installation were superb and caused minimum mess and disruption, nevertheless, having someone else in the house, chatting and singing and generally being there when you’re used to being on your own, isn’t conducive to either reading or writing. The up side of this is that the hot tank (far too big for a one bedroom flat) occupied a cupboard five foot by three. This is now empty – but not for long. The walls aren’t strong enough to take shelves to be loaded down with books but the space is more than big enough for bookcases to go in there. I reckon I am going to get another fifteen foot of shelving. Given that since I moved it has had to be a case of one book in, one book out, this is a cause for celebration. The Bears are taking bets on just how long it is going to take me to fill it. Let them know your predictions and they will quote you odds.
Where books are concerned I’m part way through two novels neither of which I am really sure about. Jill Dawson’s The Language of Birds is clearly a retelling of the Lord Lucan affair and as such there was always going to be a question over the narrative voice. You can’t tell it from his point of view because you would have to take a stand on what happened to his lordship, but telling it from the nanny’s perspective is problematic as well, given that she is presumably going to end up dead. It is Dawson’s solution to this which worries me. At the moment I can’t see how the device she’s chosen fits with the rest of the narrative. Maybe all will become clear if I get to the end of it.
The other novel is for a book group meeting tomorrow, so I must finish it tonight despite the fact that I am not at all convinced by it. Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black has been much lauded and it appeared on the long and short lists for several awards but I just can’t see why. It seems like a ragbag of ideas to me. If I’m meant to take it seriously as a slave narrative I can’t do that because so many elements are randomly unbelievable and I can’t find any other idea that serves as a focal point to hold the story together. I’m hoping that someone tomorrow is going to show me where I have gone wrong with this book because at the moment I am flailing badly. What do other readers think?