What I'm Reading

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by hullabaloo22

A quick review of the books currently on my stack.

'The Wine of Solitude': Irène Némirovsky's autobiographical novel, in which she lacerates her father as a cheap, low-class trader unworthy of her feckless, faithless mother (for whom she reserves her true hatred). Unhappy families make good novelists, it appears.

'Wormholes' by John Fowles: Marxist-Leninist after a fashion, introverted recluse, highly intelligent novelist, in love with la France profonde. His thoughts on his life and writings. My kind of guy.

'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test': I have a lot of time for the late, lamented Tom Wolfe ('Radical Chic'). A style to aspire to: laconic, knowing and laced with irony. Also unafraid. But this book is so relentless, so high-octane and unrelentingly in-your-face that I found it un-unputdownable. And dated. The Ken Kesey Wikipedia article is way more digestible.

'Sentimental Education'. On the advice of John Fowles, who venerated Flaubert as a stylist (he's not the only one, cf. Julian Barnes). I also have 'Three Tales' on the list plus a re-read of 'Madame Bovery' (1857) which I engaged with before only for plot. Time to appreciate it in its entirety.


'A Maggot' by John Fowles. Was ever a title so badly chosen, in the sense of putting people off? No matter that, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article, its title is taken from the archaic sense of the word that means "whim", "quirk", "obsession".

Although it's not apparent until the end, the novel is the author's homage to Ann Lee, the founder of the communitarian Shaker movement. Fowles combines the style of his hero, Daniel Defoe, with science-fictional elements to imagine a future civilization styled on Shaker principles sending an agent back in time to facilitate the birth of Ann Lee. The SF elements are never explained as such: the author is content to refract them through his characters, who are half-rationalist and half-mired in a magic scarcely struck from the law books.

The life and times are beautifully realised, it's a real labour of love by the much missed Mr Fowles (1926-2005). And surely amenable to a TV treatment (and don't forget 'The Magus').

Submitted: February 12, 2021

© Copyright 2021 AdamCarlton. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Very interesting selection, Adam. You make them all sound intriguing.

Fri, February 12th, 2021 8:49pm


Just a dump of the stack, really. But I try to learn from the best!

Fri, February 12th, 2021 2:59pm

Craig Davison

Interesting collection. My recent reads are: Journey to the Stone Country, Alex Miller, Australian. The Merrygoround in the Sea, Randolf Stow, Australian. Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood, Canadian. Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Australian. A Partisan's Daughter, Louis de Bernieres, English. Now I'm reading Birds Without Wings, Lois de Bernieres, English. I read what I find to read. I've really enjoyed these novels, although sometimes they have been challenging.

Sat, February 13th, 2021 8:54am


Thanks for this. Always interesting. I believe that if one has some insight into areas of one's own writing which 'need development', one can seek out authors from which one may specifically learn.

In my case I'm in the market for characterisation and literary style.

Sat, February 13th, 2021 7:54am

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