1. The Closed Circle- Jonathan Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self- Virginia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case- Agatha Christie
4. 99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden
5. Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman
6. Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywater
7. Exercises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara
Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywater
Man, was this book disappointing. It had a quote from Stephen Fry on the cover saying “marvellous!”. I was expecting a fascinating collection of things people no longer do, hopefully thought-provoking things I’d never heard of . Instead I got a hurrumphing Telegraph reader lettering-to-the-editor into his marmalade about things these days, and how they’re not as good/the same as when he was young. He’s the kind of upper middle class man of a certain age who seems to believe that his experiences of life are the definitive version. Disappointing. Glad it was a library book, and I didn’t buy it.
Exercises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara Wright
I love this one though. I generally love Raymond Queneau. I’ve got the Oulipo compendium too, but I haven’t played all the word games in it yet. Zazie Dans le Metro is one of my favourite films, but I can’t seem to find it on DVD. It’s another story told in 99 different ways, but this was the originator. It’s witty, surprising, and gives you a firework of new ideas. My favourite quote “There were… but what were there, though? Eggs, carpets, radishes? Skeletons? Yes, but with their flesh still round them, and alive. I think that’s how it was.” from the Uncertainty variation of the story. I think that translator must be some kind of insane genius as well, now I want to read it in French too (although I’m not too hot on my 40s french slang) You ought to read this book.
Malle + Queneau = heaven