Goldie's Blog

Reading, reading, reading

12 May, 2011 | By Goldie Alexander

I have had the good fortune to have a number of books suggested by friends for me to read. They include:

The Zahir” by Paul Coelho.

“Discovering Dorothea” by Karolyn Shindler, a biography of Dorothea Bates, who was a pioneering fossil hunting woman.

“Blue Ribbons & Bitter Bread” a biography of Joyce Nankivell-Loche by Susannah de Vries

Here are some I found myself:

“The Garden of Bad Dreams” Christopher Hope. A great short-story collection

John Banville “The Sea’. I know Banville is famous and a Booker winner but I find his prose tortuous and plain hard going. Am I a bad reader???? Probably.

I’m presently ploughing through “Freedom” by Jonathon Franzen. It is a mammoth 561 pages and took nine years to write. Seems that this is Franzen’s modern ‘War and Peace’ and his protagonist actually reads it when she is going through her own trauma. Could this novel have been pruned and then become equally successful? I enjoyed “The Connections” lots more, though that was also very long. Perhaps the protagonists were more likeable in the earlier novel, certainly less irritating than Patty.

I’m also halfway through “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo ( this translated from Norwegian) at 450 pages. This is a good thriller, but again I query the length. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy good short stories. So much can be said in so little. In my mind less is more, but this may have to do with being a children’s author. We learn very quickly not to bore our reading audience.

My question for this week and hopefully someone will comment on this: Is length necessary when it comes to the best literary fiction? “Machine” read last week was short and brilliant.

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