Monday, February 04, 2008

Currently reading…

At the moment I am half way through The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia, an unusual fantasy set in Moscow or rather in an alternative Moscow. I am finding it an engrossing story, ideal commuting literature. At the same time I am rereading Edward Whittemore, on the hunt for quotations to include in a prospective 2009 Whittemore Calendar. Despite the fact that I have read Whittemore’s books many times, I find it as ever a pleasure to read them again. There’s something addictive about his prose style and it is a joy to reacquaint myself with his fascinating characters. Reading the books in the light of sussing out quotes, only enhances my appreciation of Whittemore's style.

Prior to picking up The Secret History of Moscow, I read a couple of books I borrowed from my brother at Christmas. One was DBC Pierre’s Ludmila’s Broken English and the other was The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. The former is a crazy story involving conjoined twins and Russian brides with a totally outrageous, sometimes shocking plot. I really enjoyed DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little which won the Booker prize some years ago, and though Ludmila is a completely different kettle of fish, it is distinctly the work of DBC Pierre nonetheless. I once saw an interview with the man and he came across as a very interesting individual.

The Chabon book is excellent; I was immensely impressed with it. It is an alternate history of sorts, the novel being set in an imaginary Jewish settlement in Alaska. It is a noirish hardboiled detective mystery novel, but is much more than that. It is melancholy and haunting and not in the least a conventional detective novel. I highly recommend you read it.

Whilst on the subject of books, the publication of the
25th Anniversary Edition of Little, Big is surely imminent and I can hardly wait to receive my copy and see it in all its glory. Meanwhile, there is a very good essay by Michael Dirda on John Crowley's Aegypt Sequence in The American Scholar – read it online here. As was my opinion, Dirda concurs that it is a masterpiece. All the books in the Aegypt quartet will be back in print by the end of the year, courtesy of Overlook Press.

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