Happy midweek everyone! Wow. We are already halfway through the week. Wow. Today is the last Wednesday of March. April is waving! I hope the first three months of the year have been kind to everyone. I also hope that your week is going the way you want it to. 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?
After some contemplation, I will be closing my March and my two-month venture into British and Irish literature with Booker Prize-winning writer Pat Barker’s The Women of Troy. Published in 2021, it is a sequel to The Silence of the Girls, her first foray into retelling mythology. I haven’t started reading the book yet but I am excited because it incorporates one of my favorites: Greek mythology. This also means it can go either way, that I either love it or hate it. I hope that this one will be better than its prequel. I will share more of my impressions of the book on this week’s First Impression Friday.
What have you finished reading?
I’ve had quite a busy week, it seems, at least where reading is concerned. I guess I really am making strides into British literature which is, by the way, my second most read part of the literary world, second only to American literature. The gap between the two, however, is vast. In the past week, I managed to tick off three more books in the past week, starting with Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on starting to read the book. Had I not forgotten to bring Brighton Rock when I went to work, 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.
By the way, The Sense of an Ending is the third Booker Prize-winning book I read this year; after Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida and J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur. Anyway, at the heart of the 2011 Booker Prize-winning book was Tony Webster, who was already in 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. Overall, it was a thought-provoking book but I find it a little too short. I wanted more.
The second book I was able to complete in the past week was 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 Brighton Rock, even listed as part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die; it is the eighth book from the said list that I read this year. I guess I am making up for lost ground.
While Greene’s name was ubiquitous – he was also considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature a couple of times – it did take me some time before I finally decided to give his prose a chance. The book was set in the years immediately prior to the Second World War in the seaside resort of Brighton. The catalyst for the novel’s main action was Charles “Fred” Hale’s report on the murder of Kite, a gang boss. This seemingly innocuous news piece, however, attracted the interest of evil minds, chief among them Pinkie, the sociopathic seventeen-year-old who took over the gang that Kit once led. The overriding theme in the story, however, was religious values, immorality, and sinfulness; Greene is a writer renowned for exploring these subjects and Brighton Rock was the first in a series that explored them. It was an interesting book, to say the least.
Ah. Once the queen of Hogwarts but has now been freefalling because of her radical views. I once admired J.K. Rowling because the Harry Potter series is a masterpiece, especially the story of how she pushed for it despite facing several rejections. She has lost a fan in me, to say the least. So why am I reading one of her works? I obtained a copy of The Casual Vacancy way back in 2015, when Rowling has not shed her real skin yet; or has not fully manifested yet. I just want to tick off the book from my long list of unread books. Another book ticked off the backlist!
Anyway, The Casual Vacancy is my 10th book from the British writer, making her the 13th writer who I read at least ten books. The Casual Vacancy was also Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter novel. The book is set in a suburban West Country town called Pagford and opened with the sudden demise of Barry Fairbrother, a parish councilor. His death opened up the titular casual vacancy. What ensued was a battle for the right to fill up that casual vacancy. The election exposed the real colors of the members of the community. More importantly, what floated to the surface are the social concerns that have been hounding the denizens of the town. The quality of writing was there but the story was something you have heard of before.
What will you read next?
After spending two months in the company of British and Irish writers, I will now be pivoting back toward Asia, starting with one of my favorite parts of the literary world: Japanese literature. After American and British literature, Japanese literature is my third most-read part of the world of literature. I will be kicking off this journey with two unfamiliar writers in Morio Kita with The House of Nire which I learned was a parody of a book I have look been looking forward to, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain; and Sawako Ariyoshi with her work of historical fiction, The Doctor’s Wife. My plan is actually to focus first on new-to-me Japanese writers before reading the works of the writers I am more familiar with such as Kenzaburō Ōe, Yukio Mishima, Shūsaku Endō, and Banana Yoshimoto.
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!