June has been a funny old month: too busy to engage much in reading, even when I needed it most. So, only 7 books that I read from cover to cover – a record low for me. And, for the first time ever, there were two books I did not finish (in the same month!). But I have made a bit of an inroad into my #20booksofsummer list, although they haven’t been an unalloyed joy so far. So, if you are sitting comfortably, shall we begin?
The DNF stack
Ingrid Desjours: Les Fauves – for its gender stereotypes and mediocre thrillerish treatment of a subject which could have been very interesting
Sandra Newman: The Country of Ice Cream Star – with apologies to Naomi Frisby, who sent me this one and whose opinions I value extremely highly. Call me shallow, call me comfort-zone reader, but it just required too much effort to follow. The made-up language was very clever (as a linguist, I appreciated the fact it had certain basic rules). I really admired the author’s inventiveness, and the energy and diversity of the young people in the story. However, I’m just not all that fond of post-apocalyptic fiction, and a combination of flu and migraine made it even harder for me to go through with it. I may still go back to it later, when I am fitter and my brains are in less of a jamble.
The #20booksofsummer pile
In addition to Les Fauves (see above), I read four more of the 20 books of summer. At the rate of 5 a month, I may not finish the challenge by September 5th.
Ariel Gore: Atlas of the Human Heart – self-absorbed, navel-gazing, travelling to find one’s self instead of get to know other people
Michel Bussi: Black Water Lilies – Monet, gardens, three generations of women, convoluted yawn
Emma Cline: The Girls – teenager looking for meaning and a sense of belonging, MFA writing style with glimmers of real style
Alison Umminger: My Favourite Manson Girl – another lost teenager with a dysfunctional family, strong YA voice
Found on a bookshelf
Claire Messud: The Emperor’s Children – slightly pretentious, but a sharp, sarcastic portrayal of ‘intellectual’ New York life
Jean-Claude Izzo: Vivre fatigue (Living wears you out) – oh, boy, is he depressing, but oh, boy, does he fit my current mood!
Rebecca Bradley: Made to Be Broken – a friend, but also a talented writer who really knows her police procedures and whose work is getting better and better
Unintentionally, this has been a month of women writers – only two men snuck in. It was also, unusually, an Anglo-French month: one third French, two thirds English-speaking. So not the most varied of months.
Before I leave France, however, I want to make more of an effort to find Romain Gary at the library. And I should leave out some poetry books: poetry is always a wonderful source of comfort and inspiration even in the most insane of moments.