Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reading news

 I keep forgetting to update you on what I’ve been reading – which any self-respecting blog should do, and I was reminded of this today by a long email from Jocelyn on that very subject (muchas gracias, Jocelyn).  I should report that since my last reading post, I have read ‘In A Strange Room’ by Damon Galgut from the Booker short list (liked it, but wouldn’t rank it a Booker-worthy winner); and in a late catch up of past Booker winners, ‘The Remains of the Day’ (lovely) and ‘The English Patient’ (amazing – but try ‘The Sheltering Sky’ by Paul Bowles if you want a book about the North African desert that will stay with you all your life).

The Booker winner for 2010 will be announced on 10th October. Do I still have time to read the rest of the short list?

And here I should report an interesting phenomenon. In Sydney, my day could hardly begin without my fix of The Sydney Morning Herald. Yesterday in Brussels I pounced upon a copy of The Guardian with equal enthusiasm. How soon our loyalties can change! In my defence, my quick defection from the SMH was considerably assisted by the very poor quality of its on-line version, which always seems to me to read like a bit of tabloid trash. Whichever editor selects which headlines to shove down the cyber-reading public’s throat should be put in a room with real SMH fans, and asked to explain him/her self.

But The Guardian grows on one very quickly. Its columnists, both serious and gossipy, are generally delightful. Consider this snippet, and what it reflects of modern British life:

Tony [Blair] keeps on rockin’. Well he does have a book to sell. And he tells Shortlist magazine that he has been amused by the general reaction to his disclosure that he liked a drink from time to time. “All my friends who are proper drinkers say it’s the most pathetic and sad admission that they have ever come across.” John Reid was particularly unimpressed by his normal alcoholic intake of a gin and tonic and two glasses of wine. “He said that where he’s from in Glasgow, they give more than that to the budgie.”
[‘Diary’, Hugh Muir, 24 Sept 2010]

Oh, and I also finished ‘The Parthenon’ by Mary Beard, an Oxford don, just as the Aegean Air jet landed on the runway in Athens, which was, you’ll agree, excellent timing. Yes, here I am in Greece tonight, and somewhat improbably I can actually see The Parthenon from my hotel window. Although it seems to me that anyone can see The Parthenon from just about anywhere in Athens, provided you are not too low and tall buildings don’t obscure it. My best views of it so far have been from the hotel restaurant, which is on its eighth floor. So exciting! Tomorrow I venture out for a close up look.

My first view of The Parthenon

Relaxing with Ancient Greece

Dusk over Athens

The Parthenon by night

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