THERE is nothing quite like the anticipation that comes with reading a new book. I’m pretty haphazard in how I come to my next read: book reviews play a part, hype and buzz another, but so do trusted recommendations from bloggers, friends and people in the publishing industry.
I’ve had two books waiting in the wings: the stack – that holding pattern for books: Eyrie by Tim Winton (Penguin, $45) and Autobiography by Morrissey (Penguin, $22.95). I jumped into Eyrie. I was taken with the premise: a middle aged, disenchanted guy named Keely, living in a high rise apartment in Fremantle crosses paths with a woman who loomed large in his teenage years. Gemma, once a beautiful a young girl, is now a battler and looking after her grandson, an insightful young boy who forges a connection with Keely.
I really enjoy Winton’s writing and I admired many moments in Eyrie, but I had trouble getting swept up by Keely, Winton’s middle-aged protagonist. What I did enjoy was Winton’s ability to build tension and how firmly he located me in Keely’s world. You know something is coming, what you don’t know is if Keely will survive it. In the end, I was glad I’d read it, but it’s not a book that will stay with me. That said, I’ll always read Winton – when it comes to capturing the ocean, the curve of a wave, he’s untouchable. That alone keeps me coming back for more. You can find a good interview with Winton by Jason Steger here.
I’m still reading Morrissey’s Autobiography, but it’s so frustrating. I love The Smiths and while I’m really enjoying the parts about his childhood growing up in Manchester (so bleak and brutal) musical influences and his lonely days trying to work out where he fits in (he nearly really does), there’s just so much drivel. His one liners can be brutal and beautifully poetic, but all too often they are followed by a slab of ponderous musings that go nowhere. What do I want? More wit, more humour, more grit. Who knows, maybe it’s all in the last couple of hundred pages. I’ve just read a par about Morrissey spotting his literary hero, James Baldwin in a hotel lobby in Barcelona. He’s deserperate to approach the author, but doesn’t want to risk having his illusions shattered. I think it’s too late for me.