Am I behind writing about what I’ve been reading? I guess I am. I’ve been zigging-zagging from book to book all week and keeping to my plan of only deciding what’s next when I get to the gap between volumes…
This time last week I spent the whole day with Denis O’Donnell’s lovely cat memoir, ‘Paw Tracks in Moonlight’, which is mostly about the first year in the life of a cat the author rescued in the mid-60s. The action all takes place in the wilds of Northumberland, where a single young teacher goes to live in what sound like idyllic surroundings. In the depths of winter he finds a female Maine Coon caught in a cruel mantrap. Though he’s too late to save her life, he manages to keep on of her kittens alive – and this turns out to be Toby Jug, the hero of the book. It’s a really lovely against-all-odds story about friendship and survival.
Then I spent much of the week inside a wonderful novel that I happened upon by chance. Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Fangirl’ is (I think) her fourth and it’s a delight from start to finish. It’s long but not long enough. I just wanted more. I read it on my kronky old Kindle and I was pressing that button so hard when I got to 100%, hoping there’d be more pages. That’s how much I loved it.
It reminded me so much of being in college. Of writing stories for workshops and writing Fan Fiction at the same time, and the whole lot vying for time with real life and all my other work. The friendships and the characters and the dramas that Cath encounters were so familiar and real. It’s been a long time since I read anything that really caught that excitement of writing fiction, and living inside the stories you’re writing. Rainbow Rowell has a wonderfully readable voice. Her prose has that addictive quality. Everyone is likable, too – even the flaky mother and the slightly skanky room mate.
What else? Well, then I was straight into the very funny and touching ‘Adventures With the Wife in Space’ by Neil Perryman, in which a Dr Who fan exactly my age spends over two years playing every single episode of the Show for his wife to watch and notes down all of her responses – which are incisive and sometimes hilarious. She should be script-editing today’s Dr Who. The whole thing is wonderfully excruciating – especially in the anecdotal stuff about going to Dr Who conventions. (John Levene comes out of the thing particularly brilliantly.) I can see this book as a quirky Brit movie already – a road trip movie about sitting mostly still. It’s a love story, really, and all the starships and rubber monsters are just a pretext, as they always were.
And my week has finished with two days hooked on Liane Moriaty’s ‘The Husband’s Secret’ – which is fabulously scandalous and, again, addictive. It’s like moving into a new street and everyone coming round to tell you all the neighbours’ most shocking, long-held secrets. Another big recommendation from me.
The year’s going well so far. I haven’t opened a duff book yet…! Let’s see if my lucky reading streak continues…