Ryu Murakami In the Miso Soup, Piercing
The first of these was a brilliant, surreal and darkly involving page-turner. Everyone should read it, unless they are very squeamish. It's a kind of Heart of Darkness for the noughties. I was less impressed with Piercing, which covers some of the same themes but without the same hallucinogenic clarity. I feel the same way about Pulp Fiction compared to Reservoir Dogs - the second work is more polished, less focused and a little too aware of its own brilliance.
Helen Fielding Bridget Jones's Diary
Hang the writer, hang the writer! This-success-for-which-she's-constantly-p
Nicci French Killing Me Softly
This was a gripping psychological thriller about obsessive love and sexual violence, but a gripping psychological blah blah etc for people who like Bridget Jones. Compelling but flimsy.
Barbara Vine The Blood Doctor
Barbara Vine is the name used by Ruth Rendell for her more complex, psychologically satisfying thrillers. I usually really enjoy them but I found this one rather disappointing. It is dull and long-winded and the McGuffin is guff. Far too obvious.
Philip Pulman Northern Lights
I reread this when I was poorly in bed in York, when I should have been mooching about the city with strange_complex. This is my favourite of the Dark Materials trilogy and is an utterly brilliant work of imaginative fiction. If I had a time machine I would sneak it back to my 12 year old self and let her read it. She would have loved it as much as she loved Titus Groan. I envy twelve year olds who will have the ideas and images from this book as part of their own interior landscape.
David Mitchell Cloud Atlas
This was another bedridden reread, except that it isn't comforting because it is apocalyptic. It is brilliant, though, in its scale and emotional range and its sense of humanity. I suppose its that sense of humanity, that warmth that accompanies the cleverness, that does make it strangely comforting. Mitchell's writing reminds me of two of my other favourite writers, Bruce Sterling and William Boyd.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Of Love and other Demons
Beauty, humour, decay and exoticism. Bog standard magical realism, really. Full of fragrances that make me want to go back to South America.
Ian Rankin Knots and Crosses, Hide and Seek, Tooth and Nail
I finally got round to reading some Rankin, having meant to for several years. The hero, Rebus, is a bit of a sad tosser, really, but a sympathetically drawn one. But he's still another maverick cop with a broken marriage and a drink problem. Yawn. One of the reasons I like Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford is that he doesn't conform to this stereotype and she is a clever enough writer to depcit how his solid family life both enhances and limits his abilities as a copper. The Rebus novels are a lot more Sweeneyish than I was expecting them to be, which is a good thing, and the police procedural elements are very convincing. The plots, though, are far-fetched. It's the detail and the engaging depictions of the main and supporting characters that makes the novels work. They are reminiscent of the early episodes of the Bill, when it still looked more like a documentary than a soap opera. The Edinburgh settings are vividly drawn, too. Good invalid reading, and I've another seven to go which should keep me quiet during my convalescence.