Michelle Bailat-Jones

Writer, Translator, Reader

These warm summer days leading up to my maternity leave see me doing much less than usual. I’ve got a few work projects to wrap up before Sept 1, but I am otherwise taking it very easy. This does mean I am reading quite a bit, but I haven’t been able to drum up much energy for long, lengthy reviews. I feel quite guilty about this because I’ve recently read some excellent books.

I finished Graham Swift’s Waterland and Gabriel Josipovici’s Goldberg: Variations – both wonderful, both intricate and complex narratives. For a change of style, I read Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meat which was quite funny in places, but also serious and one of the best representations of Japanese and Japanese-American culture I’ve read in a long time.

For work I’m enjoying a slim volume of essays by Jacques Chessex called Ecrits sur Ramuz as well as a collection of writings about Ramuz by his friends and colleagues called Ramuz vu par ses amis. Both are excellent and giving me much to think about as I work through my translation. Not to mention I’ve been dipping into Ramuz’s journals a little bit every day and becoming increasingly impressed with his extemporaneous writing style. He began his journals when he was seventeen and right away they show what a conscientious thinker and writer he would soon become.

And finally, today, I’m happily starting Part III of Jeannette Winterson’s The Passion and thoroughly entranced with her writing.

9 Responses to “thursday reading notes”

  1. Colleen

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Waterland! It’s a favourite of mine.

    And thanks for the reminder to read Goldberg: Variations which I’ve been meaning to get to for years.

  2. Table Talk

    I think an element in this is that once you get out of the habit of writing a review it’s very difficult to get back into it. I know I’ve found this coming back to the blog after a gap. You forget how best to frame your thoughts. Swift is a writer I keep meaning to read but have never go round to. Is ‘Waterland’ the best place to start?

  3. Stefanie

    Isn’t Goldberg: Variations fantastic? Amazing how so much can be packed into such a short book. I’ve been meaning to read My year of Meats for ages but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I am glad to hear you enjoyed it. It bodes well for me then when I do get the chance to read it 🙂

  4. Lilian Nattel

    I’m adding Variations and My year of Meats to my list. As a vegetarian, I find the title especially provocative. 😉

  5. adevotedreader

    I’ve just finished The Passion which like yourself I found entrancing. Lighthousekeeping is my favourite of Winterson’s books so far, but The Passion is a close second.

  6. verbivore

    Colleen – Waterland was lovely, a nice slow read.

    Table Talk – I agree, it is hard coming back to reviews after a short break. I think my low energy level doesn’t help either. Your question about Swift is a tough one. I’ve read two of his novels and they were VERY different, I enjoyed both but again, for very different reasons. I’ve heard Waterland praised by a lot of people, so perhaps it is the best place to start.

    Stefanie – My Year of Meats was good, I thought, parts were really funny but other parts were really gross. There is a lot of information about the US beef industry and most of it is not nice.

    Lilian – I think you’d enjoy both and I look forward to your thoughts if you get a chance to read them.

    Devoted Reader – Wasn’t The Passion wonderful. I have another Winterson waiting for me, but not Lighthousekeeping, I’ll have to see if I can find that one!

  7. litlove

    What lovely books! But don’t feel guilty – it’s essential to have the last few months of pregnancy lolling around in idle bliss. Just think how happy your baby must be, peacefully listening to all those wonderful stories….

  8. ds

    I loved Waterland! So glad you enjoyed it. And thanks (I think) for reminding me to read Goldberg:Variations…the book that got me hooked on the music.
    Trust your August is proving to be a tad cooler than ours…

  9. verbivore

    Litlove – Thanks, I need lots of gentle reminding to take it easy, since my usual pace is a bit more hectic.

    Ds – Waterland was really beautiful, and also impressive, I thought, how much he put into the story. August is Switzerland isn’t too hot, so I’m fortunate!

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