Welcome to this week’s blog. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.
“Winter getting you down?” asks playitagainstu. “Need an instant dose of cheering-up? Then I can heartily recommend Arnold Bennett’s shortish comic novel The Card.” Let’s hear more:
Through a series of roguish adventures, lucky breaks and crafty schemes, the extraordinary Denry Machin rises from the grime of the Five Towns to the giddy heights of fame and fortune, and even when he lands in the mire he always comes up smelling of roses. At the end of the story, a group of local councillors discuss how Denry has managed to reach such a zenith. “What great cause is he identified with?” asks one, puzzled. “He’s identified,” replies another, “with the great cause of cheering us all up.” And I guarantee that this delightful, hilarious gem WILL cheer you up. If it doesn’t, I’ll personally call round and make you a delicious Omelette Arnold Bennett in compensation.
Sounds like an excellent offer. But not everyone has been so certain about their reading this week – Vesca has struggled with Things by Georges Perec (translated by David Bellos):
I don’t really have an opinion to give. Nothing happens. And somehow, despite only being about 120 pages long, it happens at length. The main characters have no character at all. They have filled that space with hankering over - well, ‘Things’. They are barely alive, and by the time you finish all 120 pages you’ll be so catatonic you’ll wonder if you are either ... I just thought of an opinion: Clever rather than enjoyable.
Ouch! Luckily, Lawrence Durrell’s “very slim volume” Esprit de Corps has also proved a good find for nina1414:
I always thought that Lawrence Durrell would be very serious, but these short stories are very much in the vein of P.G. Wodehouse. Some wonderful pictures are painted. And each story comes with a one-page illustration by V.H. Drummond.
Elsewhere, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers has pleased pubbore:
Character is really Chambers’ strong point: all the regular trappings of space opera are there and very well done - the alien planets and races, the technology - but at the centre of it all is the story of two people - the AI in an illegal body and the ex-slave who takes her in - that you come to really care about. I loved it.
And Oudtshoorn has had the good fortune of reading a first Elizabeth Strout novel, Olive Kitteridge:
Enjoyed it, especially her depiction of Maine towns at ocean’s edge high on the rocks. She does this effortlessly, as part of the story. No lengthy, boring descriptions of scenery. Her knowledge and understanding of human nature leave me breathless. How does she do it? I am 75 and still don’t come close to understanding humans. Lovely writer.
Finally, an unarguable recommendation from Tom Mooney:
Just tucking-in to a couple of John Cheever stories. Very accomplished writing. The Swimmer, in particular, is a masterpiece. Anyone who can provoke almost the emotion of a novel in just 16 pages is a hell of a writer.
The Burt Lancaster film of that story is - whisper it - possibly even better. It doesn’t happen often, but I just think this time the film has even more nuance than the paper version. Perhaps we should think of it as the exception that proves the rule?
If you would like to share a photo of the book you are reading, or film your own book review, please do. Click the blue button on this page to share your video or image. I’ll include some of your posts in next week’s blog.
If you’re on Instagram and a book lover, chances are you’re already sharing beautiful pictures of books you are reading: “shelfies”, or all kinds of still lives with books as protagonists. Now you can share your reads with us on the mobile photography platform – simply tag your pictures there with #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection here. Happy reading!