Since the dim and distant days of my youth I have been a voracious reader. From the early days of my Enid Blyton addiction; to the ‘Just William’ series by Richmal Crompton; by way of Roald Dahl, I have devoured books.
Adolescence saw my advance to proper, grown up books by the likes of Aggie Christie; Stephen King and Judith Krantz – among countless hundreds of other writers and thousands of books. During my grim teenage years I was averaging about two full books per week. Intravenously.
It was an easy escape into other worlds and realms. Where the reality of being a bespectacled, pubescent, suburban homosexual was utterly irrelevant. Magical lands existed between the covers of these tomes.
My passion for books has always been quite promiscuous – I would read pretty much anything – from nineteenth century classics to chick lit (Marian Keyes by the way does not write chick-lit – her genre is comedy, and she’s one of the best comedy writers there is; thank you very much – despite the book covers that look like marsh-mellows). To horror; to suspense; to modern fiction; to biography – I particularly enjoyed biographies of 1930s black and white film stars ; to historical fiction and non-fiction. The only genres I disliked were sports books; science fiction and war fiction.
Full time work quelled my ability to read such high volumes. Real life is demanding in terms of precious time that could be spent in other universes. But I continued at a slightly more subdued pace. Being asked what my favourite book is, is an impossible question. How on earth could I ever hope to answer that? I have forgotten so many books that I’ve read. Others affected me deeply, but when I re-read them years later I was shocked at how juvenile they seemed.
Others required a level of maturity that I perhaps lacked. Reading ‘Catcher in the rye’ at aged twelve was distinctly underwhelming – I was probably too young. By the time I re-read it at aged twenty six I was probably too old.
Since I have been back in Ireland, I have been very disappointed to see that my book consumption has declined drastically. I can’t explain the reasons for this. It’s not like I am not purchasing books – I most certainly am. The pile of unread books in the corner grows more ominous.- seeming to hiss in judgement at me every time I enter the living room.
Having rehoused; gifted to charity shops, or binned my fifteen year Amsterdam book collection, my Dublin library remains pretty paltry. But it’s growing at a rate far faster than the books are being consumed.
Worryingly I have started to read some books, but then abandon then about quarter of the way through. Not because I am not enjoying them. It is happening all the same. This has never previously been a character flaw of mine . If I started a book I would finish it. It was my duty as a reader to complete what I started.
Well that era of moral turpitude is now at an end. I will get through that pile of books by the end of the year, by hook or by crook.
I have started promisingly.
Yesterday evening I finished the debut novel of Australian writer Alison Theresa called ‘A perilous margin’. It is the story of Andie – a twenty seven year old mature student – who during the course of her research on whether there is a glass ceiling imposed on female artists by Australian society – or whether this glass ceiling is self inflicted – she meets Caroline . Now almost sixty, Caroline abandoned her once promising career as a sculptor to support her husband Lawrence who is now one of the country’s great artists, and a bit of a sleaze to boot.
The women develop a tense friendship of sorts, that is undercut by a mutual distrust, suspicion and jealousy.
It’s an interesting book – painting a vivid picture of life in Newtown in Sydney -a very funky, alternative part of that town – well at least it was when I visited – before the lockdown was imposed by the mafia government on the city nightlife over the past year.
The relationship between the two women is convincingly portrayed and the ogre of Lawrence in the corner is a foreboding presence.
An unexplored thread in the book – and one which I was curious about was the disappearance of Celine – Andie’s mother – when Andie was a child – to pursue her dream of being an actress. I’d have enjoyed reading about her motivations, from her point of view. Perhaps in the sequel?
It’s an impressive b0ok. I’d recommend it.
If fancy buying it then you can get it online HERE