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Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week:

Let’s start with a burst of genius. James Joyce’s Ulysses has impressed originalabsence:

Rereading Ulysses, surely the very pinnacle of literature in English. Take this:

“Galleys of the Lochlanns ran here to beach, in quest of prey, their bloodbeaked prows riding low on a molten pewter surf. Dane vikings, torcs of tomahawks aglitter on their breasts when Malachi wore the collar of gold. A school of turlehide whales stranded in hot noon, spouting, hobbling in the shallows. Then from the starving cagework city a horde of jerkined dwarfs, my people, with flayers’ knives, running, scaling, hacking in green blubbery whalemeat. Famine, plague and slaughters. Their blood is in me, their lusts my waves. I moved among them on the frozen Liffey, that I, a changeling, among the spluttering resin fires. I spoke to no-one: none to me.”

Yes, more Brautigan! More glorious Brautigan!

This is another gem from the deadpan comic genius himself. I just can’t get enough at the moment. Every book feels like a little treat, just for me. This is his ‘gothic western’, a crazy tale which starts out like the Sisters Brothers, passes through Shirley Jackson, hangs around with Scooby Doo and in the end is something all its own.

Read Edward Carey’s Little, based on the life of Madame Tussaud. I won’t say too much as it might come out of the bag as the Reading Group recommendation. It’s brilliant. One of the best books I’ve read this year.

Even if it doesn’t get selected for the Reading Group, rush out and buy it or borrow it from the library. You won’t regret it.

In the small town of Mystic in Georgia the bored locals are preparing for their one claim to fame, the annual Rattlesnake Roundup. However those locals include washed up football players, sexually frustrated former cheerleaders, racists, rapists, and trainers of vicious fighting dogs. There is certainly plenty of the grotesque, bizarre and menace in Crews’s honest examination of dark side of humanity.

Despite its horrors the story is compelling. Sparsely written, fast moving and brutally frank Crews examines the cause of his disfunction in his characters and the consequences their actions have on those around them. It is devastating in its directness and intensity, and a great example of the power of fiction.

I’m half way through Persuasion. Jesus. Walter Elliot. What an arse. I’m wishing the afflictions of Job on him.

An author I had never heard of but who could resist for £1 at a charity shop on recent visit to London. Worth it as I grabbed it on my way to emergency room yesterday fearing a cracked rib after an energetic football game with my grandson who tackled/or tripped me up. Six hours later, no broken bones on x-ray but found the tale of the shady world of stock speculation (leading to South Sea Bubble of 1720) and murder mystery quite a page turner to distract me. I understand now there are other books in the series. Moral of story: never leave home without a book and do not play football with a 5 year old!

The New York Times has an amusingly difficult time understanding the “English” in Nina Sitbbe’s Christmas book. Turns out Slade never really made it to the US.

Enjoy Dwight Garner’s favourite quotations, including the immortal “Oh, fuck, not another elf,” from an auditor of an early draft of the Lord Of The Rings.

“Does it make any sense at all to pursue literary glory? Are the writers we praise really the best anyway?” Tim Parks on Giacomo Leopardi, the poet who tried to answer to some of the oldest questions in the world back in 1824.

Danielle Steele discusses writing 174 books. (Yes: 174.)

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