Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

The menu at the White Bear, Kennington. If you’re going to be in South London, come say hi!

Several days late. Sorry!

  1. It’s been two weeks since I’ve written anything here, which is mostly because of training for my new job at the gastropub round the corner. We opened to the public on Wednesday, and I’ve been working floor every night since (except for tonight). So far I’ve spilled two and a half pints, but I’ve also acquired a nickname from the chefs (“Dave”, for reasons unknown), so I guess it’s going pretty well. It’s especially interesting to be on the receiving end of the British attitude towards tips. (In a nutshell: almost no one tips, although we’ve had a few very generous tables.)
  2. Tana French is one of those authors I’ve been wanting to read for aaaages, and it all came to a head last week when Ella Risbridger noted on Twitter that her back catalogue was 99p per book on Kindle, as a promotion for her newest release. I bought all five of the Dublin Murder Squad books and have been absolutely ADORING them. The first two (In the Woods and The Vanishing) are, I think, better than the third (Faithful Place) and maybe the fourth, which I’m halfway through now (The Secret Place), but they’re all amazing. French’s prose is stunning—literary, descriptive and elegant—and her plotting is phenomenal. I especially love her analytical approach to characterisation; Ella’s description of her as “like Donna Tartt without the pretentiousness” is spot-on.
  3. My own novel is nearly to 50,000 words. I’m so close to finishing section two that I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll have to go back to sections one and three, after that, but it’ll be amazing to have a whole chunk of the first draft finished.
  4. Speaking of my novel: I’ve created a website for it! There’ll be periodic updates there as well as playlists, blog posts about the writing process, sneak previews, etc. If you’re at all interested in this thing I’ve spent the past few months coyly mentioning, head over there and check it out.
  5. The London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre today hosted a panel on Chinese sci-fi, entitled “Living in Future Times”. The two authors featured were Cixin Liu, whose The Three-Body Problem won this year’s Hugo Award, and Xiaolu Guo, author of Baileys-longlisted I Am China and A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, as well as of the book-turned-film UFO In Her Eyes. Liu is a very big-picture kind of guy, full of thoughtful assertions about the potential of science fiction to bring people together across races, nations and creeds. Guo is fiery and deeply intelligent, a tri-lingual trained filmmaker whose take on sci-fi (and literature in general) is distinctly, though discreetly, feminist. It was a hugely enjoyable talk, and I’m definitely going to buy both Liu’s trilogy (of which The Three-Body Problem is the first volume) and Guo’s books.

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous: go check out the other posts!

23 thoughts on “Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts

  1. I was planning to come to the South Bank, but ended up at Killer Women Festival instead in Shoreditch. In-between 2 business trips – what a great way to unwind and forget about all troubles for a while…

  2. Only two pints spilt is an achievement, I’d have at least dropped a bottle of gin or something.

    Hooray for getting near the end of your novel, that’s very exciting. Then you have the fun of going back over it and editing (I always find it easier to edit something I’ve written than face a blank page. Not that I’ve ever attempted a novel).

    1. Thanks!! (The reading lists are yet to come – I have to drag them off my computer from a few years ago – but I’m excited for them too.)

      1. Ta! (They’re going to be almost directly transcribed from my actual undergraduate reading lists, so at least they’ll have the reek of authenticity.)

  3. I’m so glad you’re also on the Tana French train. I entirely agree about the stronger and weaker entries in the series – though you seem to have missed Broken Harbour, which is a good one. The Likeness (is The Vanishing the US title?) is so haunting.

    I would definitely pick up your novel after reading the blurb. Doesn’t hurt that I’m Oxford-based and I love campus novels. (My own novel is set in Cambridge). Looking forward to seeing how it develops.

    1. I’m quite enjoying The Secret Place now, actually – it’s as though she’s taken the claustrophia of The Vanishing and just twisted it slightly by putting it in a different setting. Broken Harbour is the one after The Secret Place, and it’s next on my list!

      Yayayayayayay! We can read each others’ books 😀

  4. I read a Guo novel when I was a senior in high school. I think it was the Dictionary for Lovers one and I really enjoyed it. I must try to read a newer book of hers. Tana French is an author I’m interested in reading one day too.

    Good luck with your novel!

    1. I just got Dictionary for Lovers in the post today! Very excited. Tana French is fabulous, too; I can’t think of a single reader who wouldn’t like her, to be honest. And thanks!

  5. You’ve only spilled 2 1/2 pints? Sounds like you’re nearly a pro already from my decidedly unexperienced perspective! I’ve read In the Woods and loved it. I really must read more French. I really want to read the Three-Body Problem too. And congrats on the progress of your novel! The new site looks great!

    1. 😀 Spilled them, and then had my leg attacked by a nervous shelter dog – but didn’t drop the hot ceramic dish I was carrying at the time! So I count as a pro in my own estimation now. Definitely read more French, that style is addictive. And I couldn’t find a secondhand copy of The Three-Body Problem at all, so haven’t got it yet – but that suggests to me that people like it and want to hold onto it; a good sign.

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