Pers Petterson – Out Stealing Horses
Petterson can also write beautifully (or at least can be translated beautifully) but also can lapse into clumsy cliches and clunky prose (“I was asleep before my head hit the pillow”). At times his style reminds of Cormac McCarthy – a lack of punctuation, long flowing sentences. But he is not as accomplished as McCarthy. An interesting story which keeps you reading but by the end leaves you feeling a little empty.
Geoff Dyer – Jeff In Venice, Death in Varnasi
First work of fiction for many years by Dyer. Most things that Dyer writes are worth reading and even though the plot isn’t great (Dyer has often said he doesn’t do plot) there is much here to recommend. He writes with wit, fluidity, and a sharp eye. There are some great scenes, a whole series of literary and artistic references (including the obvious nod towards Death In Venice), and some excellent writing. His description of a work by James Turrell, one of my favourite artists, is as fine a description of Turrell as I have read. His fiction may be less essential than his non-fiction (though the boundaries between both are often blurred) but he remains one of the UK’s best authors.
Geoff Dyer – Anglo/English Attitudes
Also re-read this earlier collection of Dyer’s essays and journalism. Covers subjects as diverse as Camus, Capa, Def Leppard, Airfix, parachuting and much else all with Dyer’s normal aplomb.
Jerry White – London in the 19th Century: A Human Awful Wonder of God
Half way through this highly impressive work of history. Well written, fascinating, incredibly detailed and researched. White brings London and its people to life and has made me look at a city I visit everyday for work in a new light. The detail is so dense it can be quite tiring to read so felt the need to take a break.
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein – Nudge
Nudge sets out how it is possible for choice architects (public and private sector) to help everyone make better decisions for themselves, their family and the environment without restricting freedom of choice. There are some interesting ideas in here and it is said to have attracted the interest of Obama and Cameron. But too often this felt like an extended magazine article stretched out to fill a book.
Paris Review Interviews
I’ve also been dipping in and out of this volume of the Paris Review Interviews. An often fascinating insight into the minds of some of the most famous writers of the 20th Century.