Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Salon 5 October 2008 Repeat posting (test for friend feed)

Anne Sydenham, of the varied and entertaining blog Cat Politics, is offering a truly excellent book for BAFAB week. Please head over there, and have a go at her quiz!

I've had a productive reading week. I finished Nicholas Crane's GREAT BRITISH JOURNEYS on Monday, and enjoyed the book enormously. The third chapter was about a woman called Celia Fiennes, who reacted to the fact that she was unable to go on a Grand Tour of Europe by making a tour of her own country. She, like the rest of the explorers in this book, was seeing this island with new eyes, and noting that there was enough to amuse, entertain, impress and exhilarate in the countryside immediately around us.

The travellers Nicholas Crane has chosen for this book are a eclectic lot - from the author journalist H V Morton who sped around the wilds of Scotland in an early and uncomfortable motor car, to the reverend Gilpin who determinedly searched for the 'picturesque' in the somewhat calmer waters of the Wye. Their motivations and hardships are described in fascinating detail.

However, perhaps the most important feature of this book is that it made me determined to explore my island too. Thomas Pennant set off from Wales via Chester to explore parts of Scotland that had never been mapped before in 1772 . I wondered how long would it take me to follow in his footsteps and a quick search of google maps revealed great tracts of land without roads and tracks just a few hours away. I wouldn't have to fly or even take a boat. I could catch a train to Inverness and after that I could walk northwest and, according to Nicholas Crane's book, see the most dramatic and beautiful landscape in the world. I am persuading Hodmandod Senior to do this, and I think we might.

Since Nicholas Crane is coming to the Chester Literature Festival I asked his agent if he would be willing to be interviewed and to my great delight he agreed. That will follow later.

I have also read three of the stories in THE WHITE ROAD by Tania Hershman, in each one something unexpected has happened, and look forward to reading more of these later. The stories are all very short (well at least they have been so far), and so ideal for dipping into at odd moments.

And finally, and what I think I shall continue reading today, is AFTER DARK by Haruki Murakami, which has some stunning writing describing a city. At first the narrator circles, seeing everything with an alien eye, and then he closes in to a girl sitting at a table. Already, for some reason, I am catching my breath...


Blogger dhamel said...

Your 9/28 post came through on FriendFeed. Maybe it's just slow?

Sun Oct 05, 11:25:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Maybe it's going via snail mail! Kah ching, yes, I'm here all weeks, folks...

Mon Oct 06, 01:31:00 am  
Blogger stu said...

Murakami might have some stunning descriptions of a city, but I bet it's not as good as Tom Holt's immortal description of the architecture of London as 'Early Mordor, with a touch of Dalek thrown in for good measure.' Now that, I think you've got to admit, sums up most of the centre of the place rather nicely.

Mon Oct 06, 04:47:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Ah yes, Stu - clearly unbeatable! Very funny. This Murakami man is amazing, though - have you read his stuff? I am tempted to order the rest of his work, but suspect he might be better kept as a rare treat.

Mon Oct 06, 06:34:00 pm  
Blogger stu said...

I dipped into one of his novels, but got distracted by having to translate more Latin than you can shake a stick at (not that shaking sticks at it seems to help) and by then the library wanted it back.

Tue Oct 07, 08:32:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Aargh, Latin! There's none in this one so far, I am relieved to say. Which one was that?

Wed Oct 08, 08:18:00 am  

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