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.