Monday, 15 January 2007

Dull Days and Doldrums

'Literary Occasions Essays' by VS Naipaul was excellent reading. Well, I'd expect nothing else but excellence from this writer. A writer I only discovered in 2002 or thereabouts, after a lecturer mentioned him in an off-the-cuff remark during a lecture. The remark went something along the lines of - "If anyone hasn't read 'A House for Mr Biswas', they must do so immediately."

Naipaul's descriptions of how he writes, how he began to write and how the whole process ties into his childhood background and upbringing, was useful and fascinating stuff. Another book I didn't want to end. But that's all right - there are plenty of other books Naipaul's written, both fiction and non-fiction, that I have yet to read. And I resolve to do so.

I opened the mailbox lid yesterday to find a book from Amazon. Clare Dudman's 'One Day The Ice Will Reveal All It's Dead'. Last night I ran myself a deep, hot bath and as I happily wallowed, read the introduction. If the introduction is any indication of the rest, I am certainly in for a treat.

This afternoon I met baby H. He's alert and interesting. Tomorrow I start being his nanny from Monday to Thursday. I think we're going to get along just fine.

ABM and myself have been spending time in the wilderness around our house bush-whacking. We are feeling very satisfied at what we've managed to clear, and the sunlight we've managed to let in up the back of our section where the branches of trees were holding hands. So much so that you could stand up there in the rain and not get wet. I say sunlight, but to be honest it is in short supply. The usual January, very low and thick cloud-cover overhead, has Dunedin sitting under it like a schooner in the doldrums. Hearing gulls mourning overhead, just completes the dismal scene. Ah but perfect weather for reading - now where did I put that book?

26 comments:

Avus said...

I liked that:
"Dunedin sitting under it like a schooner in the doldrums."
Just waiting for a wind in a low pressure system. But I agree - that is the time to reduce the book stack.

Carole Alexander said...

I also liked the simile. I haven't read 'A House for Mr Biswas' or anything alse by V S Naipaul. How am I going to fit it in with set reading to get through?

Kamsin said...

I'm not 100% sure what bush-whacking is, but it sounds like fun!
I had to read Naipul as an undergrad, I don't remember which book, and to be honest I found him a little heavy going, but maybe it's time to go back to his work. Anyway, I'm kind of jealous you have so much time for reading!

Kamsin said...

And thanks so much for all your encouragment over the past few weeks, it really means a lot.

Paris Parfait said...

Did you know about the great friendship between Paul Theroux and Naipul, then the very public rift a few years ago in which they openly criticised each other's work? Sounds like an interesting book you've just started reading and perfect weather for it. Enjoy (and have fun being a "nanny").

Tammy said...

I bet Clare's book is good and it's on my list ;) Enjoy being the new nanny!

kj said...

hello chief, not much better than reading a good book on a grey and raw day.

a few days ago i became a grandmother myself--a pipsqueak of a baby boy named ryan. i am in deep love yet again.

:)

chiefbiscuit said...

avus - Thank you - all compliments welcome at anytime. And yes the waiting for the grey to lift continues - altho' maybe there was a little more blue sky today. Maybe. I'm still reading tho'!

carole - Thanks.
I know. Isn't it hard to keep up with all the reading that we would like to do?

kamsin - Bush-whacking is a kiwi expression I'm afraid - it just means cutting through dense thickets, basically - it's what the early settlers of this country did to make paddocks (umm ... I mean fields.)
Glad to lend my support; it must feel kinda isolated in a foreign country when things aren't going well.

pp - I did know there was something but wasn't sure what - thanks for shedding some light. Perhaps I prefer Naipul to Theroux anyway, rift or no rift.;)
I had my first day today with Baby H and ADORED it - he's a little charmer - I'm in my element.

tammy - see comment above re my first day as the nanny... I KNOW Clare's book will be good - she's an awesome writer.

kj Oh BIG congratulations to you! Nothing better than becoming a grandparent!!! :)

Jan said...

Goodluck with Baby H! You are a VERY brave Chief Biscuit!

wendy said...

branches holding hands. You slay me.

Bill said...

I remember reading Mr. Biswas way back in the early nineties when I was a 19 year old student living in a grotty flat in central London. There was an Adonis type character who lived on the floor below, all long blond hair and bad boy attitude from Trinidad. We never seemed to get along until the day he checked out my bookcase and stumbled across the dodgy paperback sitting next to a half empty bottle of Vodka.

Nothing like appreciating the national literary talent over some alcohol to turn someone into a best friend for life.

My Marrakech said...

I enjoy Naipul, too. And how nice to be a nanny. I am so longing to have a third baby...

chiefbiscuit said...

bill - Great wee story! I'm sure even the Naipaul would be impressed ...

maryam - Thanks for dropping by. It's lovely for me to be able to look after a baby when past child-bearing age myself.

ecm said...

I've been needing some good book recommendations! I think I've found a spot:) I'll have to check out V S Naipaul

chiefbiscuit said...

ecm - Hope you enjoy!

apprentice said...

Yes thanks for the heads up on the book.

By way of exchange read Don Paterson's "The Book of Shadows", it's fresh and funny and a very unique book.

Good luck with the new job.

I'll send you some gales to blow those doldroms away, we're due more 80mph winds tomorrow.

Shameless said...

Naipaul is also on my must-do list. And while you have wintry weather over there, we have unsusual spring weather here. It's very strange. We're supposed to go skiing this weekend but there's no snow. Cripes!

chiefbiscuit said...

apprentice - Thanks! (I think!)

shameless- Grass skiing? Global warming has a lot to answer for! ;)

Meander Knot Press said...

I'd like to get back to Naipaul. Read him when I was much younger and reading the reviews I too thought I might enjoy this particular book. Hope you get some sunbreaks to cheer on the clearing out work.

Catherine said...

It would be nice to add this to my reading list, but it is way too long already. Currently reading "The Sound of Butterflies" by Rachel King. Excellent reading.
I'm going to take it away with me, but with daytime classes and lunchtime and evening lectures I might not get much further. And most of my library books will be almost due by the time I get back :(

chiefbiscuit said...

mkp - I'm sure when the time is right you will get back to Naipaul again - he's not going anywhere ;)

catherine - That is a book I've heard of - NZ author too, right?

Becky said...

Enjoy Baby H, Chief.

I know he will love you.

b

Catherine said...

Rachael King is the daughter of Michael King - historian and biographer of Janet Frame - this is her much-acclaimed first novel (if you go to the Listener website and search, I think you will find a review)

chiefbiscuit said...

becky - Thanks for your confidence in me - I am about to write up my first Baby H instalment.

catherine - That's right - I sort of did know that. Must read the book now on your recommendation.

Patry Francis said...

I loved Dudman's book! Can't wait to hear what you think...

chiefbiscuit said...

patry - I have just started it and am loving it too. More on that soon ...

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