Sunday, October 21, 2007

Not Writing But Reading

In my recent blogstipated silence, I have been enduring a long reading of Crash. My breath has been taken away by it many times, let alone for Ballard's vision and daring considering when the book was written - it revolves around characters' intense juxtapositions of sexuality and car crashes, but for a slim novel it takes some reading.

It is forming part of a self-imposed and quite satisfying reading list with On Chesil Beach being the last book I completed - although I positively inhaled McEwan's Booker-nominated novella rather than the wrestle I'm having with Crash. Full of wafts of unease and desire, meals uneaten and oranges peeled, On Chesil Beach is a documentary of a time of stifled sensuous pleasures, the main characters' passion only expressed through music and and the occasional pub fight - the noisy drama of both belying their animal natures contained by their history, time and circumstance. It is a book of fading cotton cardigans.

In contrast, when reading Crash, there are times when the taste of salt blood metal in my mouth is too unbearable for more than a few pages. Some of that is fear of who's reading over my shoulder on the Northern Line, I haven't been as conscious of being identified as a sexual pervert since American Psycho on the Circle Line.

On theme, I'm now teasing myself by casually stroking the soft smooth skin of the hardback cover of Exit Ghost as the next in the list. I can never wait 'til paperback time to buy the latest Roth novel but his age now means the reading of each novel has the tinge of a tender goodbye (see title) that I want to draw out as long as possible.

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