OK, so I’m very, very late to the David Sedaris party (this is from 2007). But right now, after he recently popped up on Radio 4, I can’t get enough of him. Laugh-out-loud funny, beautifully written and read. A definite audiobook must-have.
Here’s a sample of him over at NPR
In a week’s time it will be two years since my mother died of pancreatic cancer. I’m ambivalent about the anniversary. I feel it’s wrong to ignore it; and at the same time, wrong to turn it into some sort of sacred day.
Anyway, on facebook, the other day a friend recommended this book – A monster calls by Patrick Ness. I just downloaded it onto the kindle, and by chance, read it in a day on a couple of train rides [it's quite short].
I didn’t know it was the story of a nine year old boy (Conor) who’s divorced mother is dying of cancer. Nor did I know that although it was written by Patrick Ness, it was based on notes by Siobhan Dowd who died of breast cancer in 2007.
I also didn’t know that it’s officially a ‘children’s book’.
It is deeply moving without ever being sentimental or mawkish. If you have lost a close relative or friend to cancer it will bring a lot back to you – much that you might rather have forgotten (yes, I cried on the 8.23 into Waterloo) .
It manages to combine being very modern with a mythical/ magical plot. So Conor uses Skype to speak to his dad and plays around online at night, but the whole plot hinges around his relationship with a monster who forms from a yew tree in his garden.
As I’m no book reviewer, I’ll steer you in the direction of Frank Cottrell Boyce in the Guardian and Daniel Hahn in the Independent, if you want to know more (they both loved it). But really, all I’m saying, is you should read it.
A Monster Calls: Amazon.co.uk: Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay: Books.
Fabulous piece by David McRaney about ‘the Illusion of Asymetric insight’ – from his book ‘You are not so smart‘ [great title!]
The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong.
…therefore if someone sees things differently than you or disagrees with you in some way it is the result of a bias or an influence or a shortcoming. You feel like the other person must have been tainted in some way, otherwise they would see the world the way you do – the right way. The illusion of asymmetrical insight clouds your ability to see the people you disagree with as nuanced and complex. You tend to see your self and the groups you belong to in shades of gray, but others and their groups as solid and defined primary colors lacking nuance or complexity.
Completely sold on the book – especially with it’s subtitle: ‘Why you have too many friends on Facebook, Why your memory is mostly fiction, and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself’.
via The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight « You Are Not So Smart.
Interesting piece by Sam Leith yesterday in the Guardian which went beyond answering the question in the headline: ‘Is this the end for books?’ and starts to look at how publishing might evolve once it’s freed from the need to delivery fiction that runs to exactly 300 – 35o pages etc.
Experimentalists such as Kate Pullinger – who alongside her straight literary novels has masterminded various experiments in narrative, including the collaborative online novel Flight Paths – are likely to remain marginal, but those margins are getting bigger. The boundaries of the book – as the success of apps for The Waste Land and On the Road, giving access to edits, revisions and encyclopedic paraphernalia – are becoming much more plastic, much less fixed.
Meanwhile a bigger question – as vinyl, CDs and now books start to dwindle – what is going to go on the country’s book shelves? Will houses even have them?
When we lived in North London, every house had obligatory bookshelves in the alcoves around the fireplace in the living room. Now we’re in Surrey, I go into people’s houses and there are no books – except in their children’s rooms…
We’ve hardly got any books out, but boxes and boxes of them in limbo in the shed. We’re not reading them. We don’t have space for them in the house. But throwing them out somehow seems sacrilegious. So they sit there waiting to be eaten by mice, or go mouldy, or maybe be discovered by the children as they grow up and get retro.
My vinyl was all dropped off to Oxfam – apart from a box full of albums that really meant something to me as an object. My CDs are in cases also in the shed – not taking up too much space with their boxes all long since thrown away. But the books…what will become of the books..?
Image from: 10 Outstanding Home Library Design Ideas | DigsDigs.