April 2015

Read:

The Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill – 3.5 

Not sure what to say about this. I did quite enjoy reading it and the diversionary style sometimes reminded me of the fantastic Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, but ultimately felt like something was missing. Interesting, and well-written, but didn’t quite hit the spot and therefore a little disappointing.  On the other hand, definitely not put off the author, and her previous novel, Last Things, sounds very much like my kind of thing.

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt – 5 

An artist who feels her work has been marginalised/overlooked sets out to prove a point to the art world by using 3 different male artists as ‘masks’ to present her work.  The results are not necessarily as anticipated.  Told posthumously through Harriet’s notebooks combined with interviews and statements from gallery owners, art critics, and the people who knew the artists involved, a far more complex story emerges.

I was slightly worried that there would be too feminist a perspective on this story for my taste, but in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it, from beginning to end (to the point at which I was initially determined to read slowly and savour the reading experience, followed by giving this up and reading the latter half in sizeable chunks to finish within a couple of days).  There are probably some more academic points that went over my head, but I loved the way the characters were drawn, and the stories slotted together, yet some questions are asked but never answered, and some ‘truths’ will remain elusive or at least open to interpretation.  Yes, like a work of art.

On a par with two of my other favourite reads, The Bone People by Keri Hulme and The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt.  Must now dig out my long-overlooked copy of What I Loved, which is suddenly a lot more appealing.

 

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