Irene Nemirovsky: Suite française, novel (2004) (charity shop, for a pound sterling), of which was made a film, a suite of two posthumous novels for the French author, (Jewish-Ukrainian origin) on life in France after June 1940 and in a suburb of Paris in the first months of the German occupation. She died at Auschwitz in 1942. It is a sharp criticism of French society. It is worth reading for the beautiful analysis of moments of crisis revealing the true human nature, a theme has been successfully resumed in the series A French Village. It is sometimes unwisely interrupted by rather boring descriptions of nature, inspired in this (according to The Guardian) by Chekhov and Turgenev. I found the effect missed, but obviously, it only concerns me.
J. R. Prynne: Poems (2015), a reissue, revised, and augmented version of his previous books (ordered from my bookseller for $ 60NZ). At eighty years old, Prynne is considered one of the great poets of his generation in Britain. I usually find it a bit difficult to read poetry in English (because it is so much more governed by prosody). It is the title of one of his books, “Kitchen poems,” which first attracted me. Then I began to read his poetry in a fluid manner, which is strange, for he is often reproached with being hermetic. He has opened up beautiful ways of exploring poetry. It is almost seven hundred pages of poetry, which I see as a Bible rather than as a book to be finished. Many hours of fun in front of me.
Lionel Shriever: The Mandibles (2015). E-book ($ 18.75NZ). The starting point is 2029, while Florence’s family can afford to take one single not really warm shower a week. The president is confiscating the savings bonds and the gold of the citizens. But this is just the beginning. Everything goes from bad to worse from that moment on. I thought the topic was interesting: money and inheritance, the aging of the population, all topical subjects, and I had previously found her criticism of the health system in the US, worth reading. But the characters of this family are not convincing at all and although Shriever understands her subject well and has undoubtedly done research on economics, she has not managed to make it interesting through credible characters. She often regurgitates her discoveries through the voice of a fourteen year old teenager who seems to have understood everything. I started skipping passages after fifty pages. I nonetheless am forced to admit that this has been enough to make me reflect more on the concept of frugality. I pride myself (not aloud, but still) on living frugally, but I realise how relative the concept is. To meditate, therefore, under a hot shower!
Fay Weldon: Auto da Fay (2002). E-book, $ 15NZ (because absent from the library). The autobiography of the author, her childhood in New Zealand during the war, her return to Britain, right after the war, her first two marriages, until she published her first book. She’s had a very interesting and busy life. I love her sense of humour and drama around the many twists of her life, the personality of her family’s characters, the need she does not seem to have to settle her accounts. In fact, her life reads like a novel and throws a new and interesting light on some of her books. I can not wait to read the rest.