Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Beyond Gormenghast

Now, hear me out, when I tell you that I gave up on Gormenghast, Part III.  The book had already taken up many weeks of my time, many, many weeks.  I was starting to lose patience with it, because it seemed to be going nowhere and I didn't recognise anyone or anything in it.  Titus had really ceased to be Titus, and had turned into Shasta from The Horse and His Boy.  He was wandering about, with no sense of direction or purpose, and I know that that was just part of the story, part of Titus's journey and all that business.  But I just really started to find it very dull.  Because my favourite characters were all (spoilers) dead, apart from one or two, I couldn't really be bothered to find out about new ones.  The first two books were just ... just ... difficult to find words to describe.  They were incredible, amazing, quite life-changing in a literary sense.  I've never ready anything like it.  I really don't know if I ever will again.  From the very first sentence I was engrossed, captivated.  It was like reading someone's dream right out of their head without them having to think about what they were writing, without them editing bits out that weren't good enough to talk about.  My goodness, I wish I'd written it.

I know that the third book wasn't finished; wasn't even near completion.  I have to make allowances.  I haven't put it away, for that reason: it's sitting on my bedside table, waiting to be finished, possibly in the summer.  I just haven't the patience to sit and read another few weeks' worth of book (it's still got a couple of hundred pages left, and the writing is so small!) when I have so many other books on my list.  So, I'm sorry Gormenghast; sorry Titus.  You will have to repose a good while longer.

So what amazing book did I choose to read over Gormenghast 3?  Erm, well, I hardly dare say, because I'm slightly ashamed at my lack of will power; I read the Twilight Saga, for the fourth time.  Sometimes, one just needs a little Edward Cullen ... erm ... injection?  (Oh dear, entering the realms of fanfic!)  Well, it cheered me up, and got me through four books right quick.  I just needed to read some trash.


Now I am reading Thackeray to make up for my lack of literary morals.  Ah, Thackeray, you feisty old satirist!  How do I love thee?  In a thousand ways, that's how.  Thackeray also makes me happy.  I dare say I don't understand even half of his words, though he speaks plain enough English.  But it's so steeped in jokes, and puns, and historical references, that I really cannot keep up properly.  But Thackeray doesn't alienate anyone - he welcomes us all in, and tells us a nice story, which we can appreciate on many levels.  I read Thackeray as my children read fairy tales: innocently and naively.  I can tell when he's poking fun, and to whom the poking refers generally (ahem ...), but that's the extent of my insight.  I have no real in depth knowledge of the societies and characters he satirises.  But you don't need all of that to appreciate Thackeray.  He's like Dickens, but a bit easier to understand.  Not that Dickens is really all that difficult - just a lot darker.  I love Dickens too, but I think Thackeray is my favourite.  I need to read more though - who are the other famous satirists?  I'm so ignorant.

I have just read Thackeray's Catherine, which shocked me!  Shocked me, I tell you.  I didn't expect that sort of ending, not at all.  Upset me a little actually.  But it was splendid, simply splendid.  Then it was Cox's Diary, and I enjoyed that hugely.  It was very short, but very funny, and a real treat of a short story.  I recommend that one, heartily.  Now I'm onto A Shabby Genteel Story.  I've never read a collection of short stories and 'miscellanies' before, but they're such a pleasant way to read.  Little bitesized bits of funny.  I was slightly nervous when I decided to read these beautiful little Thackeray's that cost me quite a bit of money from Barter Books in Alnwick (read about my purchases here, in my hub, 'The Secondhand Book Shop' - this link will not always work, as I am trying to find a place to send this article to be published).  I had looked at the books (four from a set of about twenty-three or something) several times before making the decision to buy them, because I had absolutely no money; but how could I leave Alnwick knowing that those books were in the shop, and that someone else might buy them before I could come back who knew when?  I couldn't.  So I bought them.  They're paid for now, and it was a good decision to make.  What's a little debt, when there are precious Thackerays to be had?  Nothing at all, gone; the Thackerays are still here though, waiting to be joined, over the years, by their companions that may, at this time, be scattered across the country!

So it's Thackeray for me for a while.  Nothing else will do, except perhaps a quick read of Harry Potter over Christmas?  I might treat myself, if I'm very good and do lots of writing between now and Christmas Day.

Best crack on with my own novel then - it's coming along now.  It'll still be many years before it's in print though.  Don't hold your breath waiting for it.