I feel a little like a stuck record saying this, but I’m just feeling pretty slumpy when it comes to reading at the minute. If you can recommend any books that have sucked you in, please let me know in the comments! I really miss being really sucked into the books I’m reading, so please do share anything you’ve enjoyed reading lately.
A Sport & A Pastime by James Salter (1967, Picador)
I’ve heard James Salter completely raved about on Book Riot, and especially this novel which is widely considered something of a masterpiece. It’s the story of a young American Philip Dean and his relationship with a young French woman Anne-Marie; narrated by an unnamed male narrator who is also living in France.
I did just adore the sense of place in this novel, France itself just leaps from the pages and Salter just creates this very real world and the characters that inhabit also feel very vivid too. I just couldn’t escape the fact that I just felt like I was missing something; I didn’t find it particular new or revelatory and I also wasn’t crazy about the way the sex scenes were written (despite numerous reviews calling them ‘erotic’…so it might just be me).
Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith (2014, Faber & Faber)
This thriller has one of the most interesting premises that I’ve really heard of. Martin Gray is a young civil rights lawyer, who beats the high-profile and hugely famous Damon Darrell in a case and is invited by the latter into his inner circle of powerful black men. Taken away on a weekend with them without wives or communication, Martin discovers that they share the desire to reinstate slavery-with white people performing the tasks their ancestors had to as a kind of retribution.
This is a really fascinating premise, and the sections of the book that deal with black American history and the real anger present in the characters were great. However, a lot of the characters weren’t particularly nuanced and the writing wasn’t…great, the flaws of having read thrillers by people like Gillian Flynn, means that perhaps my expectations in that respect are a bit high. However, Smith is a screenwriter by trade and I could definitely see Forty Acres making a very successful transfer to the screen.
Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran (2016, Ebury)
Caitlin is one of my all-time favourite writers, I don’t necessarily always agree with her, but I think she’s a fabulous person to have writing right now. Moranifesto is a collection of her columns from The Times and new writing under the umbrella of fighting for some kind of political change. She’s frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but this collection is also really touching; her writing about the welfare state is massively important, as is her talking about abortion, her letter to girls during the Bad Days and her brilliant posthumous letter to her daughter. It’s a tad repetitive, just due to the fact that a lot of pieces are directly lifted from the paper, but I would really recommend this.