Tuesday, 15 April 2008

On beauty, on pleasure

Reading 'The Poisonwood Bible' (see post below) made me want to read another novel that I would really enjoy. So much reading is not much about enjoyment (the frustration, the irritation, the labour, the drag, the showing off, the lack of clarity...) and it felt great to just plain love a book again, made me feel like a teenager. So...I went for a novel I had read once before and knew that I loved - 'On Beauty' by Zadie Smith.
I don't know what the (horrible) accepted word on this novel is. I know Zadie Smith herself is such a looker that writing a novel called 'On Beauty' must have wound up a lot of people (so gorgeous, so talented, so opinionated, so what the publishing world needs...is that her fault? Does that stop it being a great book?) I know this, her third novel, didn't win the Booker (and I read the one that did...John Banville's 'The Sea' - one big yawn for me I'm afraid). I know it won the Orange Prize (cue eye-rolling from those who don't believe in prizes for women only). I know I liked 'White Teeth' (some lovely passages, a messy end) and quite enjoyed 'The Autograph Man' (difficult second novel, also a bit messy) but I know I loved 'On Beauty' the first time and I'm loving it even more this time round. I'm about two thirds of the way through and it's just joy all the way - the perfectly chosen phrases, the clever comments on modern life and human relations, the understanding of old and new, the love of poetry, the love of life...I could go on but all I really want to do is go and read some more.
Pleasure...a much underrated feeling!

4 comments:

Sorlil said...

it's great when you find a book like that though I've never read any of Zadie Smith's, I'm not a great fiction reader but there really is nothing better than getting lost in a good book.

Rachel Fox said...

If you've not read any of hers I recommend starting with this one (and maybe read 'Howards End' first if you've not read that before too).
It's great on family life (from every angle) and so much else. Some great lines on all different kinds of poetry and poets too.

Dave King said...

I enjoyed White Teeth - and On Beauty even more. Couldn't put either down. White Teeth was a present, which was fortunate, as I do not think I would ever have bought it. Couldn't get into The Autograph Man, though.

Rachel Fox said...

I've just finished 'On Beauty' (about 10 minutes ago). I couldn't get on and do anything else until I had! It's that weird sensation - you want to read it carefully because the details are so good but you want to get to the end as well. I may just read it again..and then 'Howards End' again and then maybe 'The History Man' again (that has its Howard too of course).
It's funny because I didn't really enjoy being at university much but I do like novels set in and around universities. Lots of good material for characters I suppose...