I’ll be honest – this hasn’t been a great month for reading. I was so focused on the crowdfunding launch last week – Already over 1/3 of the way there! Please pledge! – that I’ve been left a bit tired.
Okay, so, like the rest of the world I raced through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and, like many I know on the internet, was left disappointed. It’s odd – I was with it until the halfway point, laughing out loud at jokes. But the time travelling causalities ultimately asked too much of the reader without much of a satisfying story to drive it along. It’s ironic, really: time-jump novels are very hard to pull off, but plot is one of Rowling’s strengths, as was demonstrated in her excellent (and the best IMO) of the original series Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which has time jumping too!). But I think people have forgotten that Rowling, while her influence is obvious, didn’t write Cursed Child. Besides Scorpius, I didn’t get a great handle on the new gen characters. (And where the hell was older brother James through it all?!)
Above said, though, here’s why I defend it: go back to before it was announced, when we knew nothing of it the London production. Could you imagine one of the biggest selling books of this year would be a play? I heard mumblings of complaint, but I think that’s marvellous. I can imagine hordes of young writers thinking, hey, I could try my hand at this. And for how many young readers will this be their first play they’ve experienced on the page before seeing it live? (Although I daresay some lucky ducks in the UK might’ve been able to see it first.)
The next book is another I have mixed feelings for – Latest Readings by Clive James. First, I should say I’m glad he’s still around to be reading and writing at all, given his grave condition of health in recent years. Latest Readings is a collection of thoughts about the books he is reading, or re-reading, at this time in his life. These thoughts were morsel-sized (honestly, the only reason I got through it), but some were so brief I was left frustrated and baffled as to why they were even included. But what he has to say about Conrad and Hemingway was worth the read alone: the former because he admires him as much as I do (really, more people should read The Secret Agent) and the latter because he doesn’t worship at the altar of the Hemingway myth as many others often do.
This last book, The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, is a daunting prospect, I’ll be honest, given my energy levels, but as I’m seeing him at the upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival, and I’d like to see how the trilogy ends, I thought I’d better start!
What are you reading this month?