Back in March, I mentioned a list of ten books that someone in the magazine, Books and Culture, had suggested everyone should read. You know how people - and newspapers, and magazines - do this all the time. On this occasion I decided to note down the titles, with the intention of reading my way through them. In the end I only read the first three books on the list. It wasn't that I got bored with the idea, but as always, other books came along demanding attention, and the list went by the by.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, A House for Mr Biswas, and Things Fall Apart, were the three I read. I don't remember much about the first, except that it was pretty strange. Strange, convoluted, and yet surprisingly readable. I really enjoyed Mr Biswas, though most curiously, when I read it again a couple of years ago, I found it disturbing, irritating, and very dark. Odd how a period of years can make a difference to the same words on a page.
Things Fall Apart is pretty dark too, but it was a marvellous book, and, most intriguingly, gave an insight into how it must have been for those Biblical patriarchs who had several wives - and how the wives themselves must have fared. It always seemed odd to me that three or four women (or more) could possibly get along with one husband. The answer is, of course, that they don't. The situation is fraught with tension at all points, with jealousies, anger, frustration and much more. How the husband manages all this is beyond me. He would have to have a fairly high opinion of himself, I suspect.
Anyway, while clearing up stuff round the house today, I found the original list in the back of a notebook. Here are the rest of the titles:
The Adventures of Augie Marsh - Saul Bellow
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - I read this when I was young, when Solzhenitsyn was the In-writer (his books suddenly became available after being circulated in hand-written copies for some years) but I don't remember much about it.
Rabbit Angstrom - Updike. This is officially a trilogy, so that adds another couple of books to the list!