• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 5, 2009 @ 11:10 am


    Fiona McCann

    Read (past tense): Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. Rarely has a book so sucessfully altered the pace of my reading, and even the pace of my life. This is a beautiful, out-of-time story told with a grace and quiet that gave me a pause I don’t often get these days, but suddenly realise is vital. Have a copy of Housekeeping raring to go now once I finish Barry (see below).

    Saw: Milk, Gus Van Sant’s excellent biopic of an inspiring activist and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US, Harvey Milk. Go see it (but please don’t come back and coo about Sean Penn’s performance, though he is excellent. But more of this anon.)

    Saw: The Old Curiosity Shop at the Gate. Don’t bother.

    Reading: The Secret Scripture, by Sebastian Barry.

    • Sinead says:

      Phew! So glad you liked Gilead, she’s not an author I’d recommend to everyone.
      I have a copy of Home if you want to borrow it.

    • Fiona says:

      I loved it, Sinead. Thanks for making me persevere – I was so impressed. I’m going to hit Housekeeping after Sebastian Barry – or is that the right order? What do you recommend?

    • Sinead says:

      Housekeeping is her first book, from the early 1980s. Home was out in 2008 and is a companion book to Gilead.

      I loved the Barry book – should have won the Booker.

    • Fiona says:

      Ok, might take you up on the Home offer after I’ve finished the Barry book, given that it’s the Gilead companion book. Have a great stash of books for January – have you read Jhumpa Lahiri? What about Junot Diaz?

    • Sinéad says:

      “Companion book” sounds a bit naff, apologies, but it’s the best way to describe it. It’s not a sequel, it just describes many of the same events from a different POV.

      Both Diaz and Lahiri are books from last year that I want to read. I got a bit choosy about what I read in the last 12 months, as I found it was a disappointing year for fiction – so I stuck to stuff I was reviewing. One highlight that was criminally overlooked was Alexsandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project.

    • Fiona says:

      I don’t see it as a year that particularly disappointed me, though much of it was taking up with stuff I was reviewing too, including the delightful A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif, and Andrei Makine’s teasing out of the complexities of Human Love. Anyway, I’ll put Hemon on the list. . . another author I discovered this year (or was compelled to read by a friend, rather than one I happened upon myself) was Joseph Roth. The Legend of the Holy Drinker was probably the best thing I read all year.

Search Pursued by a Bear