As I had feared, my August output of reading and writing was completely unsustainable. September brought a marked drop in all of the following:
- time for writing
- ability to post anything coherent on this blog
- finishing any books
So here are the six I did manage to read, with links if they have been reviewed in greater detail elsewhere.
1) Claudia Piñeiro: A Crack in the Wall.
Is it possible to write a compelling book about a real crack in a concrete wall? This is exactly what Argentinian writer Claudia Piñeiro sets out to do in this unconventional crime novel, brimming with corruption, life, passion and disappointment. Of course, the cracks will prove to be metaphorical ones too: in business partnerships, marriages, personal life and in Buenos Aires society just before the economic crisis.
2) Zoë Sharp: The Blood Whisperer
Teaching newbie thriller writers a thing or two about plotting and feisty females, this is a new venture for author Zoë Sharp: a standalone thriller about forensics expert Kelly Jacks, who has been wrongly convicted of manslaughter, served her prison sentence and is now working as a crime scene cleaner. Her past threatens to catch up with her, however, when she suspects foul play at the latest crime scene.
3) Bernard Besson: The Greenland Breach
Join me on the 4th of November, when I will be reviewing this book as part of a blog tour, and also offering one reader the chance to win an e-book. An ecological thriller, is all I am going to say at this moment in time!
4) Håkan Nesser: The Mind’s Eye
I had read later novels featuring Van Veeteren, but I had somehow missed this first one, so it was a delight to see how the grumpy cynicism of the Chief Inspector is evident from the start. I have always situated Maardam in the Netherlands (must be that Dutch-sounding Van name, too), but of course the country itself remains nameless and generic. Interesting also to see that arm’s length quality already present even in this early book: there is something deliberately neutral, almost cold about Nesser, very different from the emotionally wrenching novels of Karin Fossum, for instance.
5) Cormac McCarthy: The Road
I’d deliberately avoided reading this book, because it seemed to be such a bleak, uncompromising subject matter. But when I finally succumbed to it, I found it quite different from what I expected. Sure, the ash-strewn landscape of the apocalypse features heavily here and there is very little joy in the book. In fact, nothing much happens at all in the book – it is all about what has happened, what may happen or what is about to happen. Humans are stripped bare of all humanity, there is a patient piling on of horrible detail after horrible detail… and yet, ultimately, I found it uplifting, how the strong bond of love between father and son can keep both of them safe and whole, at least spiritually, if not always physically. It is the triumph of the spirit in the face of calamity.
6) Madeleine L’Engle: A Circle of Quiet
A book to dip into now and then, whenever you find your writerly soul in need of inspiration or gentle understanding. She describes the challenges of combining family life and writing perfectly. One to treasure for a long time.