Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. I hope that the week has been kind to everyone. I hope that the rest of the week will flow smoothly. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in body, mind, and spirit.
As it is midweek, it is time for a fresh WWW Wednesday update, my first this year. WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme originally hosted by SAM@TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS. The mechanics for WWW Wednesday are quite simple, you just have to answer three questions:
- What are you currently reading?
- What have you finished reading?
- What will you read next?
What are you currently reading?
And with the third month of the year slowly drawing to a close, I am kicking into high gear. This also means that my foray into the works of British literature is about to end. And I want to end with a bang. Literally. Anyway, I am concurrently reading two books, something that I have rarely done; if my memory serves me right, the last time I did this was back in 2017. I rarely read two books simultaneously because I get lost. This is a reason why I have respect for readers who can do so.
The first of two books I am reading is Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. Brighton Rock is my first book written by Graham Greene, a writer who I first came across through must-read lists. Some of his works are fixtures in said lists, with some, like my current read, even listed as part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The book was set in the years immediately prior to the Second World War in the seaside resort of Brighton. The focus was a murder involving a gang. There are quite a couple of characters and death was everywhere, at least it was repeatedly mentioned. I am somehow reminded of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. It seems that there is more to the story than meets the eye. I can’t wait to see how it pans out.
To be honest, I wasn’t planning on starting to read Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Had I not forgotten to bring Brighton Rock, I wouldn’t have even started with the book although I was contemplating on which of the two books I should read after I read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I would have finished the book this evening had I not had to do some chores. At the heart of the book was Tony Webster, who was already in his middle age when we first meet him. He then dives back into his past when his childhood friends, who he didn’t give much thought to previously resurfaced. The book, somehow, is reminding me of Herman Hesse’s Demian for some reason. I am nearly done with the book!
What have you finished reading?
Like in the case of the first two writers above, it was through must-read lists that I first came across James Gordon Farrell. His name was ubiquitous. This led me to his novel The Siege of Krishnapur. I later on learned that the book won the Booker Prize and was even shortlisted for The Best of Booker (won by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children). I was intending to read the book earlier until I learned that it was part of a trilogy, the Empire Trilogy; I usually complete book series first before I start reading them. This trilogy elevated J.G. Farrell, as he would be referred to, to global prominence; all three books in the trilogy were listed as among the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. The trilogy grapples with the legacy of British colonialism.
Sure enough, British colonialism was the heart of The Siege of Krishnapur, the second book in the trilogy. Just in case you are wondering, the three books can be read independently, the reason why I read the second book despite not having read the first book in the trilogy, Troubles. The book transported me to the Indian subcontinent. The book is a fictional account of the 1857–58 Indian Mutiny which included sieges into the cities of Cawnapore (Kanpur) and Lucknow. While the events that inspired the novel were true, the novel’s setting, Krishnapur, was fictional. It was the home of a healthy chunk of British colonists and was run by a man mainly referred to as the Collector; his name was Mr. Hopkins. Over the horizon, trouble was brewing. The Collector was the first one to recognize it and tried to raise the alarm. His pleas to Calcutta, however, fell on deaf ears. Shortly after returning from Calcutta, a massacre of British forces in the nearby city of Captainganj spurred revolts across the region. The remaining British forces retreated to Krishnapur. It was, overall, a compelling read.
From an unfamiliar writer to a familiar one. Virginia Woolf is a name that one will not miss, whether one is a devout reader or not. After all, Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf? I think it was through this movie title that I first came across the English writer. Back then, I wasn’t really into reading but the title did leave a deep impression on me; it must have because I remembered the name. I would, later on, learn that Woolf was a writer. I easily took it in like it was the most natural thing in the world. But I guess it is. Anyway, the first book by Woolf I read was Mrs. Dalloway, a book I read way back in late 2018. The time is ripe to reconnect with one of the world’s most renowned writers and literary critics; she wasn’t a fan of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
To be honest, I was surprised when I opened the book. The book’s introduction by Peter Ackroyd and Margaret Reynolds gave me information about Woolf that I didn’t know before. It is sad that the book was inspired by the family history of Vita Sackville-West, her lover and close friend. Sackville-West was also a novelist and an established poet. She was also a publisher who published Woolf’s books through Hogarth Press. The novel starts in the Elizabethan age when the eponymous Orlando. Time and gender were relative in the story as it would leapfrog from one seminal historical event to another, with Orlando reincarnated into either a female or a male. It was an interesting read and one that also challenges the boundaries of storytelling and what it can achieve.
What will you read next?
I am hoping to cap the month with three familiar writers, starting with J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. I know. She honestly lost a fan in me with her recent pronouncements. I have also been rethinking my fascination with Harry Potter Series. Still, The Casual Vacancy is a book that has been gathering dust on my bookshelf for a long time; I think I obtained a copy of the book way back in 2014 or 2015. I just want to tick the book off my unread list. After the book, I want to read Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy, the sequel to her The Silence of the Girls. Lastly, I want to read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow.
That’s it for this week’s WWW Wednesday. I hope you are all doing great. Happy reading and always stay safe! Happy Wednesday again!