recent reads #3

Since my last book-related post I have read some ace books and some dire books. I shall share both. I do sometimes find it difficult to force myself to sit down and read and thus I am not progressing through this years book-bucket-list as quick as I would like. Last weekend, in the beating sun, I spent 3 solid days reading and it was bliss–note to self, do it more often.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof–Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams is a genius. After studying Streetcar for A-level (which I think is a piece of absolute artistry) I wanted to read more of his work. The way he presents broken characters and flawed society through the ambiguous motifs of his own biographical past is insane and its only once you begin to learn about him and his world-view that you truly appreciate his talent. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was just as morbid and depressing and showed the worst aspects of society. It covers themes of sexuality (something Williams' always explores really well), deception, masculinity, family and intertwines it with beautifully complicated and tragic characters. It is destructively cruel, in a way that makes you want to cry. Williams understands society so skilfully and something about his writing and characters makes my heart break. The version I have has 2 alternate endings which in some ways ruined the play because it made the characters lives seem less real, but it was also an interesting technique of Williams to encourage interpretation. I do think this is maybe more appreciated/understood if you've previously studied Williams' work/as a playwright but maybe not.
some quotes i like:
"we're all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins"
"personal lyricism is the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life" (as you can see, he's a really happy guy)

Call me by your name–Andre Aciman
I shall keep the review of this brief as it has been reviewed and discussed relentlessly. All for good reason, of course, but I'll just mention the bits I find especially significant. I undoubtedly adored it and couldn't stop thinking about it. I cried and wanted to talk about it endlessly. The sensuous language, cultural references and internal narrative created such an intimacy and the use of (a form of) continuous prose accentuates this closeness. A review on the back reads "as much a story of paradise found as it is of paradise lost" and I think this captures the novel perfectly. The inevitability of the ending fuels the pathos that runs throughout. It has immense parallels with The Go-Between (which I also re-read this month, check out a review here). They similarly explore destructive desire, naivety and illicit sexual awakening in the confines of a sultry and almost claustrophobic heat.
Fuck, I just looked over some highlighted bits in the last chapter ("You never did forgive me, did you?" "Forgive? There was nothing to forgive") and remembered how heartbreaking this novel was, especially the last scene which wasn't in the film.
some quotes i like:
"We had found the stars, you and I. And this is given only once"
"...crossed to the bank, where time stops and heaven reaches down to earth and gives us that ration of what is from birth divinely ours"

Larchfield–Polly Clark
This book was purchased on a whim and it was pretty shit in my mind. Utterly depressing and frustrating and repetitive and seemed to drag. It has a split narrative (one of W.H Auden set in 1930's (which I didn't realise and I have very little interest in him) and one of Ruth in present day) and I greatly preferred one over the other. The plot seemed to peak after a couple of chapters and the moment when the characters transcended the time barriers made me want to give up. I appreciate that a novel does not have to conform to reality but it just didnt work. Alas, it explored interesting themes of loneliness and sexuality and religion but just didn't do much for me. The ending was also sickeningly (and unrealistically) upbeat.

Humans–Matt Haig
I read Humans in a weekend under the uncharacteristically hot May sun. It was glorious. I read How to stop time (also Matt Haig) and they are definitely very similar. As the title suggests, this novel totally explores what it means to be human, with a clever use of narrative.  It presents family relationships and mental health and being different and acceptance and love, with a humorous undertone. It made me think a lot about the transitory and pointless nature of being alive and how meaningless humanity is, in many ways. I actually found this very reassuring, it helped to rationalise the angst. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing humanity through a different 'lens' and it made you think "fuck" about so many common aspects of society. The novel pares back humanity and being alive and beautifully presents the most essential components (essentially love). Haig, as always, writes with such wisdom and awareness and his literature feels like a kind of therapy. I usually hate both fantasy and forced humour in a novel but found neither overbearing and actually it added to the text in many ways. My only criticism was its similarity to How to stop time, but I suppose this just emphasises Haig's underlying message.
Some quotes i like:
"I realised the pathos of being human. Of being a mortal create who was essentially alone but needed the myth of togetherness with others" (how true?!)
"He eats around three bowls of cereal a day" (this is me.)
"The single biggest act of bravery or madness anyone can do is the act of change"
"Loneliness...is in fact as universal as hydrogen"
"You can't find happiness looking for the meaning of life. Meaning is only the third most important thing. It comes after loving and being"
"Dark matter is needed to hold galaxies together. Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile"
"...the melancholy beauty of the setting sun"


I also read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine but its been reviewed and documented so widely, I figured my thoughts wouldn't add much. I found it an enjoyable read but a bit strange–the narrative had an ambiguous mix of light-heartedness and morbidity and I found aspects frustrating. I wouldn't rave about it but it was fun to read.

Now I am reading a Gentleman in Moscow which fuels my passion for Soviet History and is very ambiguous, I have no idea how its going to develop–which I love.
So yes. Lots of good literature has been consumed. I also binged the whole of Queer Eye which I adored and have been listening to Getting Curious on my runs which is entertaining. After a shit tonne of hassle with my camera (all self induced), I now need to tidy my room (oh lord) and have a disco nap before going out again tonight and working tomorrow. WOo for gap years, yeh!

9 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, definitely added a few of these to my goodreads account! :)

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    1. I'd totally recommend everyone (except Larchfield haha)!

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  2. So much good reading material, my screenshots are mostly just pictures of the books you've read hahaa. I definitely think I need to read a few of Williams' works - so gutted that we're not studying Streetcar though! Also a Gentleman in Moscow sounds so intriguing so I may have to divulge in reading it <3

    eleanorclaudie.com

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    1. Hahah, glad I offer inspiration ;) You sure do, theyre so amazing Eleanor (but make sure you do a bit of analysis to get the full power lol) x

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  3. I'm so excited to finally read 'The Go Between' and I completely forgot I wanted to read 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof', once payday rolls round I'm going to buy it I think because I loved Streetcar- may give it another read. I'm excited to read 'How To Stop Time' but I hope it doesn't ruin the beauty of Humans for me. Also, the quotes you include of CMBYN made me sad all over again, god, what a heartbreaker. x
    constantlylibby.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Yes! I'm so glad you loved streetcar, I hope Go-between lives up to expectation hahah. I know!! Exactly what felt reading them again, gonna re-read it when I'm not feeling so emotionally vulnerable lmao

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  4. Haha, still havent read or seen Call Me By Your Name! Also Cat On A Hot Tin Roof sounds like a beautiful book - I'll check out more of Tennessee Williams' stuff! Thanks for sharing! <3

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    1. its beautifully heartbreaking, in a williams' kind of way. Also ZOE you need to read cmbyn–its..ah <3

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  5. I've never read a work from Tennessee Williams but he seems brilliant so I definitely want to read one of his books whenever I have time!
    http://sputniksweetheartn.blogspot.com.au/

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Katie