22 September 2009

The Book Song

Looking on YouTube for a song about books: how could I even need to look, when there is such a perfect candidate as this? Beautiful. Only a pity that the "video" is just a still of the album cover ...

So, a few reasons for writing about books today. Alexander McCall Smith's new online novel, The Dog Who Came In From The Cold, for one. I'd forgotten the previous one - though we have the bound hardback edition on the shelf now. I am however getting just a bit irritated by the way the chapters are put together, which seems to be a bit formulaic - viz the second para of today's instalment. Amusing, and beautifully written, but by the time we get to chapter 80 these inner monologues are going to be tiresome.

From there, I followed a link to the 20 worst sentences from Dan Brown's oeuvre only to find that they weren't half as bad as I had expected. Many of the selections weren't sentences, either, and most of them failed to illustrate the bad writing of which Mr Brown s accused. I have no wish to read his books, but that's because of the subject matter more than the writing style - ditto Harry Potter, but not Philip Pullman. I just finished reading a The Olive Tree by Carol Drinkwater (see my post about the Oxford Literary Festival back in March) which I enjoyed despite the fact that it was the most over-written book I have read since - well, since the other one of her books that I have read. I would dispute the meanings she appears to intend for some of the more obscure words she uses, too. But I still liked it. The fact that one has met an author gives the books a different dimension, perhaps. If one has been to parties at the author's house, so much the better ... (Pullman, that is, not Drinkwater.)

Alexander McCall Smith writes so elegantly, selecting and using words so beautifully, that it could be a knitting pattern - well, perhaps I exaggerate ... a book on medical ethics? Might be worth trying - it could inspire me in my legal book-writing, as his fictional writings inspire my slow-moving efforts in that area.

Having returned Carol Drinkwater to the bookshelf, I turned to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a work that has rather a lot in common with A McCall
Smith's, although he doesn't write epistolary novels. It is an absolute delight, though there are darker aspects to it as well, superbly written and evoking the post-war period very clearly (at least, in accordance with what I imagine it must have been like).

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