Sunday, October 24, 2004

Looking for V.S. Pritchett

I started reading Iain Bank's Dead Air this week after the Accidental Woman debacle and have put it down for a while. It didn't take. Its not awful or undreadable or anything like that. When I start a new book I need to get 50 pages into it before I can tell if it will take or not. And I just wasn't feeling it with Dead Air (though I very much like how the book looks, so its a shame).

I flittered over a few books to see what would take. A friend mentioned Carl Hiaasen and I thought it might be fun to start reading him again. I read all of his early books (and have signed first editions of most of them) but for some reason stopped reading him. I started Lucky You and read enough to know that I will soon read it, Sick Puppy, and Basket Case. (I didn't stop buying Hiaasen when I stopped reading him.) And I am on the lookout for a copy of his latest, Skinny Dip. My timing in returning to Hiaasen coincided with this nice piece about him in the Guardian.,12084,1332707,00.html

I also picked off the shelf a biography of Henry Green, Romancing, written by Jeremy Treglown. I've skimmed through it before and felt like skimming through it again because it is very well written (the biography - I've never actually read anything by Henry Green) and because Treglown has just published a biography of V.S. Pritchett. The reviews of the Pritchett book have been very good, especially the one in the Guardian.,12084,1327417,00.html
I read some of the Green book and then looked up Graham Greene in the index and read all the related entries.

In the early to mid 1990s I bought a copy of the complete collected stories of V.S. Pritchett. Its a massive book - maybe the thickest thing I've ever owned. I read and enjoyed several stories in it and hatched this plan to read one a night until I finished it. Of course, this never happened. And now I can't find the book. I looked all over for it tonight. Its a big thing so it should be hard to miss. I think it may be in Chicago. I can't think where else it could be. And its driving me mad because now more than anything I want to read some V.S. Pritchett. (BREAKING NEWS: I JUST FOUND IT. OBSCURED BY A DUSTY, UNUSED TREADMILL.)

On Friday I lost out, at the last minute, on an eBay auction for a copy of William Trevor's latest book, A Bit on the Side. I'll keep looking but I'm kind of pissed about it. I was the sole bidder until shortly before the auction ended. And I wasn't home to up my bid. My longing for the book intensified tonight when I was checking next week's programming schedule for the BBC World Service. I noticed that the program Off The Shelf is to feature four stories from the book next week (at inconvenient times). Which means I'll have difficulty hearing some of the stories from the book I'm having difficulty obtaining. Not fair. I think I can listen online at my convenience but I'd much rather listen to them on the radio. (Side Note: The programming notes indicate four stories are to be read over several days. The stories are Solitude, Traditions, Sacred Statues, and something called Greyness's Legacy. I did some research and the BBC goofed on the last one. The story's title is Grallis's Legacy.)

I have almost all of Trevor's books but have yet to read all of the stories. I've got most of the later ones covered but his edition of collected stories is massive (the size of the Prichett) and is full of stuff he wrote before I started reading him. How will I ever catch up?

I finally settled on Achmat Dangor's Bitter Fruit. And I am pleased to report that it is very good. It concerns the traumas a coloured family endures in pre- and post-Apartheid South Africa. It starts with a lawyer working in Mandela's government runs into the security officer who raped his wife 20 years ago. I'm far enough into that I am certain to finish it.

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