Alexander Averin

Saturday, 1 August 2009


Dear Diary,

Vincent Van Gogh

It is the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun fails
Romain Rolland French writer 1866-1944

The weather is foul - where and why is the Sun hiding itself? Derek Brockway, our lovely Welsh TV weather man says it’s all to do with the Jet Stream that is sweeping over us - I’ve never heard of it before but I wish it would sweep somewhere else. I think I will be curling up with a good book later when I have done a little more work on the family tree. Before I do though I promised I would tell you what books I have been reading, so here goes, there are some old, some new.

The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor. I love William Trevor books and always thought I had read this one but surprisingly it turned out I hadn’t. I happen to believe it is his best.

Now another Irish author - I hope I am not too biased.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

This man writes so well, I have read all his books and this one is so lovely. It goes its way slowly, gently but so so smoothly and I am sure you will enjoy it.

The Road Home by Rose Tremain. I am reading this at the moment and I don’t like putting it down. It is not a ‘happy’ read, it’s about an economic migrant and doesn't exactly lift my mood in this grey weather but I will persevere as it is such good writing. I recommend it highly, every sentence is just perfect and a joy to read.

I am just about to read the new Salley Vickers. Did you know why she spells her name Salley by the way - it’s all down to Yeats and his poem Down by the Salley Gardens. Yeats was her father’s favourite poet. Salley means ‘willow’.

Also on my to-read shelf is The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - this has been recommended to me by two people, one is my daughter. I don’t think this will be a cheerful book either but I will read and report on it.

I have really enjoyed David Lodge’s Deaf Sentence - I won’t say any more as the Purplecoo Book Group have chosen it for discussion in a couple of month’s time. I would force it on you though as a must-read. Lodge is another of my favourite authors - he makes me laugh out loud. This book has more than just humour though……….

I am sure to find a laugh or two as well in Lucy Mangan’s
My Family and Other Disasters. I used to enjoy her extremely funny columns in The Guardian.

In a car boot sale recently I found a Diana Cooper book on angels - Angel Answers. If, like me, you believe in angels and have questions to ask, you will enjoy this one.

For my ever-present poetry-hunger I have borrowed from the library’s new additions:

Long-Haul Travellers by Sheenagh Pugh

And more poetry-food has been bought in Hay (as very cheap bargains)

Not in these Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

All Alcoholics are Charmers (great title and written by Martina Evans who grew up in Cork).

Exemplary Damages by Dennis O’Driscoll, another Irish poet (Tipperary born).

Last but so very far from least comes a great favourite of mine, the great Kerry writer Brendan Kennelly and his book of three-liners called Now.

Here is a taste … I will open it at random., I am a great believer in oracling, what will it tell me I wonder?

Looking forward, it seemed like eternity.
Looking back now, it’s a moment.
I’ll settle for now.

When words make love to each other
some beautiful children are born
and the occasional monster.

How much of a man is lost in success?
Quite a lot she thinks, looking at the man
To whom she almost said yes.

Before I go I will give you a song version of the aforementioned poem: I sing this around the house or in the car myself when no-one is around.

My favourite YouTube version of the song could not be embedded - do go over and listen to Maura O’Connell and Karen Mathesa singing it together, it sent shivers down me.

Here are the words.

DOWN by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Well I will sign off now, there are more book titles I could suggest but I will save them for another time.

What are you reading?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


seashell cosmos said...

Good morning or afternoon more like to you across the Pond as I type. I'm just beginning to read my 50th Anniversary edition The Lord of The Rings. Paperback, as at the time my budget did not allow for the hardback, but that is alright. I also dip into The Secret Life of Bees often.
I will send you some sunshine from the Pacific Northwest where we are slowly coming out of a heat wave. Maybe it's headed your way and by the time it gets there it will be just the right amount of heat. Hope so.

I believe in angels too. Yes. Have a wonderful day. :)

Merisi said...

Good afternoon,

I spied your blog's "Book" title over at Willow's blogroll and simply had to click myself over. Thank Willow, I did! ;-)

I love both William Trevor and Colm Toibin! Hard to say which one of Trevor's novels or short story collections is my favorite. I read one of his older books, "Fools of Fortune", recently, and it may well be the one that I would select as my current favorite.

"Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin is waiting by my bedside, to be read next. I can't wait! I have read "The Master" three times in its entirety and go back to it quite often, to reread the one or other passage (I have quoted him several times on my blog - sheer pleasure to remember the one or other line of his).

I have read, with pleasure, only one Salley Vickers novel, "The Other Side of You" - I am looking forward to get to know her better.

Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader" was an interesting read, but I am not too fond of Schlink's writing and have not tried to read more of his books.

I have read several of David Lodge's books, but not his newest one.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Thanks so much for the reading list. I always love hearing what others are reading. I often find favourite books that way. And I share your love of William Trevor. And of Maura O'Connell. And, of course, Yeats.

I'm sorry about your weather! And I agree, books are your best escape plan!!

Oh, and I just finished The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and at present I'm trying to decide between Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels and In A Dark Wood by Amanda Craig.

Faith said...

Interesting about the Angel Answers book, might try and get hold of that. I wanted to say thanks to you putting your 'search this blog' thingie on, I was able to quickly find your version of the What is Dying? poem which I remembered reading on your blog (it was 2007!) and have copied out to read at my mother's funeral on Wednesday. Thanks Cait. xx

Frances said...

Cait, when you of all people announce a post as ... Just Books, I immediately have to click in your direction.

I always love to see what you are reading, and rejoice every so often to see that you've read something I would recommend (David Lodge's Deaf Sentence.)

My library has now got Brooklyn on hold for me. I just might walk across Central Park tomorrow afternoon to grab it. Yet, if I do that, what happens to the two other books I have got underway ... Margaret Drabble's The Garrick Years, and Steve Holtz' A Fraction of the Whole.

Lovely to see that Merisi has been to your place. Her place is definitely a place to visit.

Cait, one of these days, we will have a cup of tea, or a glass of something, and talk and talk. I know that will happen. xo

pinkfairygran said...

Salley Vickers is a favourite writer, and David Lodge also. And a believer in angels, I have several books on the subject... can I be nosy and ask why you believe, have you been given proof or is it just a feeling?

Pondside said...

So many of those writers I don't know, Cait. I'm always happy to be sent to a new shelf in the library, so thank you!
I've just finished Old Filth by Jane Gardam and World Without End by Ken Follet and am now reading Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle - a good summer read.

Fennie said...

I wonder Cait if you have read The Crock of Gold by the Irish writer James Stephens? It has always been one of my favourites, especially when I am feeling low. It is a magical book, always guaranteed to bring a little sunshine into one's life. Thanks for all these suggestions.

gaelikaa said...

Gosh, this brings back memories. Around fifteen to twenty years back, I used to always bump into Brendan Kennelly when I lived in Dublin. He had someone living in an apartment block where a friend of mine lived and we were always bumping into each other on the stairs. One day, my boss told me to call up Brendan and invite him to lunch in the Westbury in Dublin and I was dying to tell him on the phone 'I'm the girl who keeps bumping into you on the stairs in the Irish Life apartments', but of course I didn't. I always found him very nice. I never did get around to reading his works, I must do so!