Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Weekend of Books

The weekend in dear, dear Ipswich necessitated the expected amount of train travel which , in turn, necessitated a lot of reading. In the last few years I've fallen into the habit of only reading at bedtime (for no more noble reason than I tend to spend my bus journey to and from work in the world of iPod and my evenings either working or socialising) but this weekend I spent a good 10 hours, all told, immersed in Bit of a Blur - Alex James' dense account of his years as part of Blur - and On Chesil Beach - the Ian McEwan Booker Prize nominated novella.

Bit of a Blur was a fun read - an unexpectedly well written romp through britpop from the inside. I was surprised about at how little nostalgia it stirred in me - although too young and too provincial to have really been a part of britpop, I watched avidly from the sidelines and was there in my own small way. I do remember being furious at not being allowed to go to Mile End but I made several pilgrimages to The Good Mixer, the Camden pub where Graham Coxon famously held court. Essentially, though, as James (who I never met) reminds me, the spirit of louche cleverness of the people involved and their inimitable sense of cool was never going to be mastered by a 13 year old private school girl from Ipswich, no matter how hard she tried.

Anyway, I love Ian McEwan.

I always feel he's at his best with partnerships - the kinship-resentment of long term friendship played out in Amsterdam makes it easily one of my favourite books and On Chesil Beach bests even that. Maybe it owes a little to my joy at rediscovering the pleasure of unencumbered reading but this soaring, tragic love story lifted and broke me in a way I wasn't expecting. If you haven't already (and, admittedly, I'm a good 18 months late on this one), go read.


minifig said...

I went to Mile End! I guess that hardly makes me unique, since I think capacity was about 18,000, but I was there! (With my big sister :o)

Voices From The Below said...

I'm still jealous, 15 years later, how pathetic!

I once snogged someone who said he was the drummer from These Animal Men, but that claim was somewhat dubious, even at the time. Although who falsely claims to be a drummer?!

minifig said...

Yeah, you'd choose something better than a drummer. Although I guess it could just mean that he had the good sense to choose a band member you'd have no chance of recognising. I mean, I am a drummer, and I still wouldn't be able to recognise the drummers from even some of my favourite bands.