As I’m currently: only 88 pages into my current 470 page read, going out twice this week, and busy at work too, so it could be a few days before I have a book to review… so I thought I’d have a quick delve into my archives. To make it more fun, I’ve chosen a linking subject for the books selected, like Simon T does in his occasional ‘Five from the Archive’ posts.
This could become an irregular feature for those between review times for me too when I haven’t anything else to blog about. Some may say it’s lazy blogging, but why not? I believe there is some value in bringing attention again to books read some time before, and it can influence your current reading directions – just compiling this post has made me want to promote books by each of these authors up my TBR piles.
My first selection is inspired by my recent discovery of the wonderful books Mrs Bridge and Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell. The book title links will take you to my original reviews. So without further ado, here are:
Five Old Posts About: SUBURBAN LIFE
1. The Ballad Of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
I only wrote a short paragraph about this delightfully wicked and funny short novel back in 2008. I think I unconsciously wanted to emulate Spark in not wasting a word. (Said with tongue firmly in cheek!)
Peckham Rye is a road bounding a large park about three miles south of London Bridge, and it is connected to the centre of the City by a local railway. A typical suburban location that Spark injected some life into with her 1960 novel. One I often recommend, and one I will definitely re-read.
2. In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor
When I wrote this post back in 2009, I intended to read a lot more of Elizabeth Taylor. I adored this razor-sharp dissection of middle-class life, yet haven’t managed to read another of her books quite yet. (I know, I really should!)
Published in 1961, the setting is the Thames Valley, prime commuter belt where “every day the men go off to work on the train to their jobs in the city”. The book examines the impact on family life when a forty-something widow remarries a younger man. It’s all about sex – mostly repressed, of course, and it gripping.
3. The Maintenance of Headway by Magnus Mills
Mills’s USP is that he writes dead-pan funny books about men and their jobs.
This isn’t his best, (for me that’s All Quiet on the Orient Express), but it is his most suburban book, taking place on the streets of an unnamed town.
This slim novel is all about the lengths that bus inspectors believe they have to go to to maintain the timetable, and what the drivers believe will give them an easy life. All this to stop those three buses coming along at once.
4. Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin
The neighbourhoods of NYC are each like little burbs of their own, so I’m including this quirky novel about a man who likes to sit in his car reading his newspaper, taking up a desirable parking space.
Tepper later becomes a local celebrity when he offers some good advice to a passer by and word spreads. Then the Mayor who is obsessed with parking control gets in on the act, but Tepper stands his ground against bureaucracy. This is a gentle satire with a charming protagonist that you can’t help but admire, and chuckle along with.
5.The Champion by Tim Binding
Tim Binding was another new to me novelist that I (still) hope to read lots more of, especially as I have several of his books waiting in my TBR piles.
This book from 2011 is about class war in the suburbs, greed and ambition. The Champion is exactly the sort of novel that I wished JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy could have been. It’s a black comedy with some ‘moments of sadness and tragedy that widen the dramatic depth’, and has two chalk and cheese lead characters that you want to find out what happens to.