Sunday, 30 June 2013

Reading lists

02:48:00 Posted by Shaun Brookes , , , 1 comment
"Which book should I read next" she said, as if I was half expecting this kind of talk one Wednesday after work.
I had no idea what to say, I'll be honest with you. I took one look at my side of the newly crammed bookshelf- eyes frantically scanning the spines for some kind of offer and worried. "McEwan" I told her.
I always say McEwan, ever since I was forced to read Enduring Love at A Level I've been a bit of a sucker for it. You know what you're getting and I like that. The book I wanted to thrust at her wasn't there though- so I couldn't recommend Amsterdam as something to pass an afternoon.
I scanned again, "Uhm...". The pressure was on- she has read everything. I can't pick a classic without the bluffer's guide to hand, and I'm forced to delve again into a supply of books I read ten years ago. "Ballard. You haven't read Concrete Island. We did a comparison with The Tempest when I studied it- you'll like that."
I was flapping here. Maybe she'd realise that my bookshelf is full of books I've never actually finished reading. The last thing I needed was to pluck out a seemingly innocent sounding title- A Clockwork Orange for example- and it turn out to be a half sadistic account of crime and debauchery. No, I should stay safe and for a couple of days I could blag from memory how the similarities are there- she wouldn't ask me about the ending, I was pretty sure of that.
The eyes that looked back at me were set to glaze over. She'd heard these before perhaps, last time she asked this. My lips began to move and all the things I had decided were a bad idea started to churn from my mouth. "Less Than Zero," I said. "Nick Cave too- that's a cracker". What was I doing. She thinks I like poetry- like I'm some sort of deep creature- how can I be recommending these books to her. She'll see me for who I am. It was done though, and from that point there was no going back. The facade that shrouded my books was gone, smashed, and the thousands of glistening smithereens glared back at me from the floor, daring me to cut my feet.
I confessed there and then. "It is hard to recommend something for you really," I paused, "a lot of those books on there I haven't got round to reading yet".
The burden was lifted. It was only a white lie. So what if we'd bought new bookcases to accommodate the load and I was more of a collector than a reader- did it matter. She could never know I've only read about a dozen or so 'decent books'- and I wasn't going to tell her.
That moment actually came a long time ago in this relationship. Back then I thought I had got away with it. Women always know more than we credit them with though, in the nicest possible way, and somehow she found out I read poetry because I have the attention span of a gnat. She understood that I liked it to be neat, finish-able without a major effort and, for a long time didn't even buy me poetry books if too many poems crossed one page.
Then it was Wednesday again. All of a sudden, like the last three years hadn't happened and she didn't know that I knew that she knew I'd been bluffing and I'd never touched the Dickens, it was Wednesday and she turned and asked which book she should read next. Did she know it was the very theme we were writing to this week? I flapped. "McEwan," I said and her eyes rolled.
"Just leave me a little pile of books- I'm off on Sunday".
Here goes then.

Glen Duncan- I, Lucifer.
Brett Easton Ellis- Less Than Zero
JG Ballard - Concrete Island
Norman Mailer - The Fight
Nick Cave- The Death of Bunny Munro

Cheers for reading, S.



Ashley R Lister said...

I had no idea that Nick Cave was also an author as well as a singer/songwriter.

Thanks for educating me.