I’ve managed to drag back my reading habits in the last week so am maintaining my usual rate now, thank goodness. Not sure what happened there apart from just not getting enough time to read. And going down and up on the coach to spectate the London Marathon at the weekend will give me some nice chunks of reading time. I am still a year behind in my reading, month-wise at very least; I have a few bought in the same session to read now. Of that batch I have now read four and DNF’d one, with three left to read/finish. Of the print TBR shown here, I’ve read or rejected seven, almost finished one more and won’t get all the others done!

After finishing “Quite a Good Time to be Born” last week, would have been rude not to have got to this one relatively quickly, especially as it’s one of the few remaining books in my TBR project. I did prefer the first one but the two together make an interesting read.

David Lodge – “Writer’s Luck: A Memoir 1976-1991”

(08 September 2021, Oxfam Books, Kings Heath)

Although Lodge said in his first volume that he was going to split his memoirs into two covering 40 years each, this one ended up covering only 15, as he explains, because he had a lot more archive material he could use to construct it. Beginning as he is still an academic and writer, we see the writing of the rest of his campus novels plus a couple of others, plus more academic works, his foray into writing for the stage, the development of the academic conference circuit and different strands of literary theory, and his family growing up.

It’s not quite as fun as the first volume, just like the stadium years of a band turn out not to as fun in retrospect as those years stuffed into a van doing pub toilet gigs. He is aware of his luck, naming his book after it and mentioning it throughout, but there is a lot of academic travel and there are lots of personal holidays, the buying of a pied-a-terre flat in London, which are not as engaging perhaps as their earlier struggles. He’s also a bit “of his time” in discussions of some women, including his wife, though not as much as in the earlier one. It’s just a bit disconcerting to read about saunas and research trips to see blue movies and topless bars. But he does set out to be honest, and he is!

I think I liked the info about the writing of his novels best. I hadn’t grasped that “Small World” is based on the Grail legend, for example. For reader Peter, there is not too much on his deafness: a footnote explains it’s covered fully in the novel “Deaf Sentence” and there are only a couple of scenes where his condition features and troubles him. I was less interested in the machinations of getting his plays put on, though the detail on the TV series of “Nice Work” was interesting as this went out just as I was going to Birmingham University and I remember being excited about the campus and Selly Oak locations shown! Unfortunately there’s not very much about department figures I remember, even though he only left the department the year before I arrived. There’s quite a lot about the business of poststructuralism and other critical theories (as there should be) but he also reminds us that

Every reading and re-reading of a novel is unique, produced in the silent theatre of the individual reader’s mind. (p. 264)

which matches nicely my espousal of reception theory, which I’ve undone rather by talking here about how I liked reading about the background to the writing of his novels!

An interesting read, the two books making one good narrative and I would of course read a third volume.

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Quarter 4 Book 20/28 – 8 to go by 5 October! Can I do it? I do have a bit of a let, in that Matthew hasn’t finished the book he’s reading before the Dave Grohl one the challenge is based around and I’ve almost finished “Nervous Conditions”, too …