Two old friends here as part of my Month of Re-Reading. The Barbara Pym was read for my readalong with the Virago LibraryThing Group, and the Maconie was added at the last minute (so doesn’t appear in the book pile to the left) because I’d been to see him talking about his new book and he’d read bits out of it which reminded me how enjoyable it is. So on it went to the pile, and off it came straight away to be read!
Barbara Pym – “The Sweet Dove Died”
(9 January 1991)
I think this is the most Elizabeth Taylor-y of Pym’s novels (Pym and Taylor readers, do you agree?). We meet cool (cold? calculating?) Leonora, who uses her accidental encounter with Humphrey and his nephew James to entwine them into her life, getting all their useful aspects without having to engage in any of the messier or more uncomfortable side of human relationships. She is unable to see the parallels between her obsession with James and her friend Meg’s difficulties with her own young male friend, even when parallels between the young men’s lives come into sharp focus, and dispatches those who cause problems with ease and aplomb. Yet somehow we do feel sorry for this lady with her empty life and continual polishing in this quietly impressive novel which Pym described as a study in selfishness (picked up at the conference). Originally read this in the early 90s and I’m not sure I’ve got a review written down. I did remember many parts of this although not the plot as such.
Stuart Maconie – “Cider With Roadies”
(08 May 2004)
A jaunt through Maconie’s early life up until his leap from journalism to radio broadcasting. Extremely amusing of course, and I also enjoyed a lot of the points about dealing with interviewing music people which are even more interesting for me now that I transcribe a lot of these (not for Maconie, I hasten to add). His sheer joy in music and bands shines through the humour of course … and also, I have to say, shines through the typos with which the text is littered. But a good, fun read. I can’t find my original review of this at the moment, as I would have read it about a year before I started book blogging online, but will dig it out of my notebooks and add it.