For the Love of (New) Books

Last night I finished devouring The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which was excellent and the review for which will come soon, possibly even tonight. I’ll be buying the second in the series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, in trade, to match, if I can manage to wait that long….

And since I have some time before editing again, and since Jessica Grant is coming to Belleville (!) and I’m going to hear her read, I’ve started the next book on my list, Come, Thou Tortoise.

Here’s what I just emailed my friend about CTT:

Dear Kath,

I have just started Come, Thou Tortoise and am on page 6 and though it might take a little getting used to the style [as it did for McCarthy’s The Road, which I totally loved], there is something about it that’s already got me teary. And it has nothing to do with the jam I accidentally smeared on page 5. (I thought of you. I’m glad I’m not borrowing your book. If I were I’d only be allowed to read it in safe places [away from food and tea and dogs, etc.], and I always read books in unsafe places.)

Now I’m off to work, book in hand, clutched to my chest. Work is definitely an unsafe place to read, for several reasons (never mind the food). But a girl’s gotta be true to her nature. And this book is fast proving irresistible! It is endearing. It is excellent to the power of 60.

PS. Thank you, bookseller girl, for giving me two bookmarks with my purchase that exactly match the cover’s colours! A nice touch.

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12 Comments to “For the Love of (New) Books”

  1. It’s still beside me! I have it beside me right now, in fact, with my other books I’m reading. I did start it but the footnote numbers did me in quickly as well as the translation, which I find a bit clunky. I think it’s just my restless, quick mood, and will pick it up when I’m more calm and patient. I do still want to read it, very much!

  2. Marie Clausén

    I don’t think it’s the translation. I read it in English and it read very much the same way as the ancient Icelandic sagas do and Undset was attempting to write in that style, which is very pared down. I actually think that comes across rather well in the English translation.

    Anyway, no rush of course, I just look forward to hearing your view when you have read it. I cried at the end – something I very rarely do with books.

  3. Ah, okay! When I started it I wondered about that, whether it was stylistic, and you would know better than anyone else I know. I do remember taking a bit to get used to KL, but I seem to remember it being smoother than this.

    When you read it, did you keep looking up the endnotes as you went along? I must say that doesn’t excite me, since it becomes work, but at the same time, I like what I learn.

    I’m sure once I settle and get drawn into the story, it will take off from there. I was surprised when you told me you cried, and that makes me all the more intrigued! I LOVE when books make me emotional.

  4. Marie Clausén

    I don’t remember the notes, but I read so much academic material that I don’t necessarily notice whether there are notes or not. I will usually read them if they are the type that provide intriguing snippets of knowledge as opposed to just referring to some other work. If they are the latter kind I just ignore them – the former kind I love!

    Undset wrote this in a completely different style than Kristin, more in keeping with the earlier time in which it’s set. Kristin was set in the 1300s whereas Vigdis Gunnarsdatter lived in the early 1000s, in other words during the pre-Christian Viking age.

  5. “I picked her up and she blinked at me with her upside-down eyelids. I felt instantly calm. Her eyes were soft brown. Her skin felt like an old elbow.”

    Sigh. I love tortoises.

  6. Marie: Ah, that explains it, the different styles. Thank you!

    I don’t mind endnotes, but I find they interrupt my reading because you have to flip pages constantly. On the other hand, I didn’t mind Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’s footnotes! That was a beast of a book, too (in size, I mean).

  7. JK: Me too! We were just walking along the Belleville Waterfront trail and I was pining over all the turtles!

    I can’t find a site for Kelly Hill to see more of her designs. I know she did The Birth House, and that eco one, too, besides Richardson’s. Does she have a site?


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