Thursday, 24 February 2011

A sunny day at last

At last a sunny day. We visited my sister-in-law in Shoreham today and were grateful not to have to drive through rain, mist, drizzle or fog, which is what we've had as weather for most of the last week. And we had a beautiful sunset on the drive back home.

Preceding this visit, I've finished a few books, such as Susan Hill's Howards End is on the Landing, which I found more a collection of essays on reading and its importance than a totally coherent book, but interesting. Susan Hill starts from the premise of not buying any new books for a year, as when searching for a particular title, she finds several books she had not read, or wished to re-read but had forgotten about. This leads to a meditation on books and reading which for anyone with any interest in the literary is fascinating and enlightening. Her list of 40 titles she would read over and over again is not exactly my choice, although several of the same titles would be on my list.
Another recent read was Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd. A thriller in that a murder takes place, but as we learn quite early on who actually committed the deed, the plot is more of a why dunnit than a who dunnit, and the why leads the reader through some quite strange places, meeting some very odd people. The main character, Adam Kindred comes out of an interview for an academic post in London after spending time researching thunderstorms in the US, and falls into conversation with another man , a Doctor Wang, in a cafe. This simple event has the most awful of consequences for Adam, as he decides to return a file belomging to Dr Wang in person. On reaching the Doctor's flat, he finds him stabbed and dying, and thus starts a new life as a homeless down-and-out. There is a host of interesting characters whom he meets along the way, such as Mhouse, a prostitute and her young son Ly-on, the leader and congregation of The Church of John Christ and eventually Rita, a policewoman who lives on a boat with her disabled father. Although some of the characters verge on the picaresque, the plot is fairly easy to follow, as Adam eventually finds out why Doctor Wang's death occured and who was partly resposible. The theme of identity runs throughout the novel, as Adam changes his front respected academic to down-and-out and again to lowly hospital porter which again slides into undercover researcher into the failure of a drugs trial. A thrilling and engrossing read.

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