Firstly, I’d just like to say I haven’t actually been reading Joyce’s Ulysses. I do intend to get round to it one day, just not now. No, I usually read books on my Kindle and that’s just not that pretty to photograph. Real books are much more aesthetically pleasing, so I’m sorry if I lured you in with Ulysses.
It’s been a while since I shared my last reads with you so here’s three of my recent reads. First up is Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Boy, did this take me a long time to read and I originally gave up on it but Murakami is one of my favourite authors so I was interested to see where he was going to go with it. 1Q84 is spread over three long novels (personally I think it could do with a bit of editing, but whatever). If you’re new to Murakami I probably wouldn’t advise starting with this book, go with some of his earlier works first then come to this. Anyway, at the core of this book are two characters Tengo and Aomame. The scope of this book is impressive but in some ways it’s also its downfall. It’s a meditation on time with lots of nods to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. It’s also, at it’s heart, a love story. There’s also of course lots about Japanese culture and history that unfortunately bypass me. But that’s one of the joys of reading Murakami, it can be read at different levels so even if you’re not clued up on say Japanese current affairs or Proust you’ll still get a rewarding experience. I’m a big Murakami fan but I did find this hard work at times but I’m glad I stuck it out.
After Murakami’s 1Q84 I read another Japanese author Keigo Higashino. He’s described as the Japanese Stieg Larsson, but I haven’t read any of those books so can’t say if that’s a good comparison or not. Malice is my first book by Higashino and I absolutely loved it. Malice is a wonderfully clever whodunnit. The story revolves around the death of a successful author. The plot device of an unreliable narrator is executed brilliantly here. If you love crime thrillers with twists and turns and red herrings all over the place I highly recommend this.
I then moved away from Japanese authors to the French crime writer Frederic Dard. Bird in a Cage is a short novella at just 120 (ish) pages. This French noir is crafted so perfectly and so full of suspense, in fact in many ways it reminded me of Hitchcock. It’s melancholic, tense and at times almost descending into farce. I don’t really want to say too much about the plot but here’s the synopsis from Amazon:
“She seems alone and defenceless when he speaks to her in the busy brasserie, all decked out for Christmas Eve. When she invites him back to her apartment, he can’t believe his luck. Later, when her husband’s body lies dead at the foot of the Christmas tree he realises his nightmare is only beginning… Take care when unwrapping your presents, they can sometimes contain nasty surprises.”
Another book I can’t recommend highly enough. I’ll definitely be reading more Dard but I couldn’t read one after the other. It genuinely made me a bit anxious (in a good way).
Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?