Monday, March 12, 2007

And Then We Came To The KGB

After the Irish reading, we legged it up to the KGB for another reading, because I'd read a lot about Joshua Ferris's new novel, And Then We Came To The End (check out the fancy website here), and I wanted to hear him read from it. Ferris was an engaging guest blogger on The Elegant Variation last week, which I chatted to him about when he found himself inescapably stuck beside me in the tiny, overcrowded venue. He seems like a nice guy - talked about how time-consuming blogging was, and how he only ever did it at night, and how he couldn't imagine trying to do it all the time, while working on his fiction too - and he hung my coat up, so I'll definitely be buying his book. Oh, and it also sounded very good (if a little cinematic) - it's about office dwellers, and narrated in that horrible, cloying "we" voice, the first-person plural, beloved of HR departments everywhere - a nice touch, which knifes straight into the deadening, depersonalising heart of corporate culture. Anyway, they weren't selling the book in the KGB, so I'll have to hunt down a copy, and I'll report back when I have read it. I'm sure it will be a lot better than the novel I read last week, Andre Aciman's Call Me By Your Name; I don't know how Colm Toibin and Nicole Krauss could blurb it with straight faces. He wrote it in four months -clearly after having gorged on To The Lighthouse - and it shows. I like his non-fiction a lot, but

Getting back to the KGB reading - which will eventually be available to hear, along with interviews, here - Ferris was preceded by two other very enjoyable writers, Liam Callanan, whose new novel All Saints I'm reading at the moment (it was on sale on the night) and really enjoying, and Elise Blackwell, who read from her novel The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, which is about the floods which struck Louisiana in 1927. The book was all but finished when Katrina hit last year, and Blackwell felt it had to be completely rewritten, and relocated, in the light of what had happened. So her narrator now tells the story of one flood on the eve of another.


andy H said...

I don't say this lightly:

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman is one of the best book I have read in many seasons.

You did not explain your dissatisfaction. I am very curious.

hesitant hack said...

thanks, andy. I will post a review of the book in a couple of days. You're certainly not alone in your admiration; the reviews have been glowing. But I thought the book was a con, and you're right, I should at least explain why.

No time just now to do that, though, so please come back later... said...

I, too, am curious - not only why you disliked the book but still more why you thought it a con. Like andy h, I thought it to be very good and, more than that, honest to its core and extremely moving. I can't imagine adopting a dismissive attitude toward it.