Alan Hollinghurst is a gifted English author, whose work I’ve only just discovered. I need your help for recommendations – which of his other books should I read next? The Stranger’s Child, his latest novel, impressed me with its clearly-articulated themes: what it means to be English, the place of literature in our lives, the vagaries of memory, the changes in social attitudes to gay relationships. (The novel begins just before the First World War and ends in the present, in a ‘literary London of queer theory, civil partnerships and book searching on abe.com’ (1).) Hollinghurst’s eye for detail and his skillful use of language also struck me; he has a wonderful knack of summing up a character or a scene with a few perfectly-chosen words.
Freda had three children, the telephone and an upstairs bathroom ; Clara had none of these amenities.
His dry sense of humour appealed to me as well.
I’ve chosen to use this title as eBook of the Month for a particular reason: I’m interested in the experience of reading from an iPad, with its multi -purpose functionality. How easy it is to move from the text to other, closely-related sources of information: book reviews in quality newspapers and journals, author interviews and readings in podcast or on YouTube, literary criticism of Hollinghurst’s other work, similar work by different authors (Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and E M Forster’s Maurice came to mind.)
Perhaps the internet and eBooks won’t mean the end of deep, reflective reading after all… (2) – I’ve never been happy about that particular ‘end of the world as we know it, the barbarians are at the gates’ cry ; it devalues the human spirit and our inherent love of story-telling and the communication of insights and ideas. We still listen to wonderful music with the demise of LP records, we just use a different medium (cassette, CD, iPod, whatever.) Long live reading, print and eBooks!