Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ayrshire Coast to Glasgow Commuter's Novel Reading Habits

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while.

You can't buy The Grauniad without difficulty in Saltcoats, so I read a book on the way to Glasgow, and the paper on the way home. The book is always a novel, because you need to narrative to keep you occupied on a repeated journey.

When I started to do this commute back in August, I was reading Trinities by Nick Tosches. I'd got it from a charity shop in Leeds because I was feeling the need for a gangster story to alleviate my Sopranos withdrawal symptoms. I liked the big idea, too: New York mafia wresting control of the heroin trade back from the triads. Lots of it was great stuff for afficianados of the genre: exploding Nigerians, for example. A lot of it was crap: all of the product placement: novels by blokes for blokes, you don't really need to know what designer gear the Godfather's wearing, do you?

Then it was Billy Bathgate, which I did blog about. Brilliant. It's one of those books, won't ever leave me. A serious literary work AND the peak of the genre.

The next novel can't have been so illuminating, because I've forgotten what it was... Or maybe I just went onto The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst, shifting from the gangster to the spy drama. As autumn was closing-in on the journey to work, World War was closing in on our multi-lingual anti-fascist Italian hero in 1939 Paris. It was never going to contend for any prizes, but it was a good commuter's read.

And now I regret to have to tell you about a nasty habit a picked up in a charity shop in South Shields two or three years ago: Michael Dobbs' Churchill books. I don't seek them out, but if one comes my way, well... This time it was No. 3 in the series, Churchill's Hour. What a bag of shite. Historically and psychologically utterly daft. But I'll forget how bad it was when I see vol. 4 sitting on a charity shop shelf for 99p or wtf.

And yesterday I started on A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka.