Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking forward, looking back
I’ve come a long way down the track
Got a long way left to go   ———-with regard to reading——-

These are the first lines of a song by the father of Australian country music, Slim Dusty.   I haven’t been enjoying my reading the last couple of weeks – I can look back on some good reads and looking forward I have a most promising list, but that couple of weeks in between has been a bit dismal.

First it was Ghostwritten by David Mitchell.  After worshipping at the feet of this author all through Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green I suddenly found he had feet of clay. I just couldn’t find any interest in Ghostwritten.  It is a forerunner of Cloud Atlas in that it is broken into several sections, each in a different place with a different character but with links between the various episodes.  Perhaps it was me but a lot of the time I just couldn’t understand what was going on.  Much too subtle for me or perhaps a lack of understanding of Asian culture. That woman up the mountain talking to her tree – is it part of her culture or is she  a bit confused in the  mind to put it politely.  But I did find  some interest in her  storyline which showed the effect of the different waves of rulers in China

And what was going on in Mongolia?  There seemed to be a spirit moving in and out of different people which left me totally confused as to who was who.  I felt I was kept in the dark too much with background information which was too vague for me to wrap the characters up in nice little bundles.  I didn’t have this trouble with Cloud Atlas .

I read a couple of library books  and I can’t even remember what they were about.  And there was Stella Rimington, the MI5 director,  and her spy novel The Geneva Trap.  She is a good story teller and it fitted in well after reading Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth. Both are spy related stories dealing with the British intelligence Service.

But now I am book-happy again.  I have given in at last and am using my iPad in bed at night. It’s much less of a strain on my eyes. I’m re-reading Elizabeth Gaskells’s Wives and Daughters.  Such an easy read.  And then my main daytime  read at the moment – I don;t know  why hadn’t I come across this before – is a slim volume by  Simon Winchester – The Surgeon of Crowthorne. This tells the story of the men behind the herculean task of putting together the  first Oxford English Dictionary. Brilliant minds, murder, insanity and friendship in a well researched true story.


This is to be followed by Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, a 900+ page tome.  This was recommended by my librarian and tells of cracking WWII codes and moves into the storage of computer data in our digital age. The two eras alternate in the story with the descendants of the characters in the war era dealing with the technology of the present. I must admit I  can never resist anything cryptic.

Have you noticed though how I have given up my independence and now am a meek and mild little hanger-on, always reading what other people have talked/written about..  I think I might qualify as stalker-in-chief of the book blogs, the freeloader, the groupie, as that is where I find the inspiration of  so much of my reading these days

And just because ……Imagewith regrets that I don’t know the source of this.

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell


My attitude to life frequently depends on what I am reading. And this week it has been David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green.  I feel good.

As usual  I am way behind everyone else –  I should have read this book years ago. But now that I have finished I find it hard to write about it.   It was so…. good.

The book is full of potential quotes such as “the screws of grammar that hold the sentence together”.   And I was delighted to see Vyvyan Ayrs from Cloud Atlas and his now mature daughter Eva crop up again as Mrs Crommelynck.

I was also intrigued by the final two lines.

”It doesn’t feel  very all right”

“That’s because it’s not the end “

A book published in 2004 expressing the same sentiment as in a 2012 movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  That was a great film which I saw before reading Black Swan Green.    I was most impressed in the movie when an Indian came out with “Everything will be alright.  So if i’ts  not alright it’s not yet the end.“  Here was I thinking that this was an Indian proverb, and what a good attitude to have to life.

Now I’m wondering if there is a prior history to the idea ”not finished so not the end” compared to the idea which is more familiar to me,” it will be alright in the end”..  Not OK therefore not the end, compared to. Is the end therefore is OK

And yes, I did finish Casual Vacancy.  Enough said !Image