Thoughts: On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan

This is going to be a short one because I read this book back in summer 2022 and my memory is not what it used to be.

That said, I enjoyed it! It’s a quiet book whose action is a painstaking description of a single night, but a) I enjoy quiet things like that and b) of course it isn’t just that. It’s the story of the lives of Edward and Florence leading up to this their wedding night, and then the story of their lives afterwards. Spoilers follow.

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Thoughts: Dark Chapter, by Winnie M. Li

Momentarily ignoring the backlog that built up while I was visiting family over the holidays, let’s forge ahead to the first 2023 book post!

I dragged my feet a bit on starting Dark Chapter after refreshing myself on its subject matter (I am still working through the books I added to my TBR in 2017!) because it was described as “hard-hitting” and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be hard hit right then. To be fair, it does also have the word ‘dark’ in its title. Warning to anyone who isn’t in the mood for it that the book is about rape, and more specifically is a fictionalised version of the author’s own experience. Also, spoilers follow.

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Thoughts: Extinctions, by Josephine Wilson

A contemporary Australian novel that I positively raced through, after the intensity of Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, though that doesn’t mean it was light or breezy reading.

Pretty detailed spoilers ahead, usual warnings apply.

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Thoughts: Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett

Firstly, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to dive into the work of a mid-century feminist, because the world has changed so much and you never know where they’ll end up having settled. Luckily, the Big Ones are avoided here. It feels weird and disrespectful to talk about someone in this way, but at the same time, you know.

Anyway. Sexual Politics is Kate Millett’s best known work, published in 1970, and it is a beast. I was sort of expecting one of those classic-style works of early feminism, or rather, my impression of them, which are rousing and rallying and quite polemical. But Sexual Politics is ferociously academic. Meticulously sourced, hugely ambitious in scope, and containing some quite difficult to parse sentences that I needed to go over a few times before they sank in (though this could be partly due to the usual baby sleep deprivation and the fact that I often read now to force myself to stay awake in the middle of the night).

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Thoughts: A Bear Called Paddington and More About Paddington, by Michael Bond

I mean, what can you say? It’s Paddington. They were both lovely reads, even if I was really the only one who appreciated them (the baby was sometimes amused by the voices I did though). I’m definitely going to read them to him again when he’s older, and see what he makes of them then.

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Thoughts: American Porn, by Heathcote Williams

I feel like I’ve probably done Heathcote Williams a disservice in choosing from his whole oeuvre to read American Porn, published in January 2017, only six months before Williams died. Like many people who rose to prominence young, especially those who are on the fringes or work outside the establishment, he certainly seems to have outlived his pioneering spark and become cliche. I haven’t read any of his other work, but it seems to have been well-received enough that it can’t possibly be along the same lines as American Porn.

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Thoughts: The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin

It just gets better and better, there’s no other way to say it.

There’s only one other trilogy that’s started out good and got better and better that sticks out in my mind, and that’s Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past. I’m delighted to tentatively add another.

Spoilers are going to necessarily abound, because it’s the second book in a trilogy, but I’ll try not to spoiler if I don’t have to.

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Thoughts: The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, translated by Archibald Colquhoun

First off, let me take a moment to appreciate the names of both author and translator. Those are some good names. And The Leopard is a good book.

I’m annoyed at myself for leaving it so long to review it, because, much like the golden age of the Sicilian nobility, my sharpest memories have receded into the past. Still, let’s give it a go.

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Thoughts: The Tomato Thief, by Ursula Vernon

You can actually just read this one yourself if you want to, here!

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Thoughts: Yvain, le chevalier au lion, by Chrétien de Troyes, translated by Claude-Alan Chevallier

Well, with a name like that how can you not go on to translate arthuriana from Old French into New French? Shame about every search engine’s autocorrect though, which insists that you must be mistaken and looking for a chevalier, rather than poor Chevallier’s translation.

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