Catching up with two mini reviews!

This has been the strangest month and I still haven’t managed to get myself organised to review and blog properly at all!

Could I really still have a blogging hangover from all that work in March?
I have been reading as much as ever, but my planning hasn’t been great and I have missed the deadline for the 1965 Club. I had planned to review Stoner by John Williams but I am finding it slow going. I hope that a review will appear next week. While undoubtedly a beautiful book, I am having a difficult time reading it, but will reserve judgement until I’ve finished.

1965-club

So, I am copping out again and writing two mini-reviews of two more books that I have crossed off that epic 746 list. My aim to get into the 400s by the end of the year is going well, so that is something positive at least!

No 531 White Noise by Don DeLillo

white-noise

Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of Don DeLillo, so I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to read White Noise, particularly given that I’ve owned my copy since 1999!

A quintessential postmodern novel, White Noise was published in 1985 and is considered to be the novel that brought DeLillo to much wider critical attention.  It is a dazzling satire of academia and consumerism that tells the story of a college professor and his family whose small Midwestern town is evacuated after an industrial accident.

Jack Gladney, our narrator, is a Professor of Hitler Studies, and he lives with his wife Babette and their four children from various marriages. Babette has developed an irrational and debilitating fear of death, for which she seeks out the most unorthodox of treatments, while Jack becomes convinced that he has been infected by the airborne toxins of the industrial accident and is literally facing the fear that is so consuming his wife. For a novel that explores our lives under the shadow of inevitable extinction, White Noise is extremely funny. It explores how we as humans retreat into consumerism and light entertainment to avoid the realities of our diminishing time on earth. The ‘white noise’ of televisions, advertisements, supermarket aisles and shopping trips is everywhere in life, keeping our attention firmly fixed on the need to buy more, to own more and to think less.

White Noise perfectly balances its sense of humour with an underlying sense of menace to create a sharp, hilarious look at modern day American society.

Read on: Book

Number Read: 216

Number Remaining: 530

No 530 Are You Somebody? By Nuala O’Faolain

Nuala-O-Faolain+Are-you-somebody

Are You Somebody? was another book I read for Reading Ireland Month that I didn’t get round to reading at the time.

Nuala O’Faolain was a household name in Ireland in the 1980s for her work as a journalist and broadcaster, but it was the publication of this candid memoir in 1996 that brought her to wider attention and cemented her reputation as a writer.

Born in Dublin, O’Faolain was the second eldest of nine children. Her father, Tomas O’Faolain, was a novelist, short-story writer and journalist who unfortunately was also a philanderer and largely absent from the family. Her mother, exhausted by bringing up the children on her own with little money, turned increasingly to alcohol and reading to cope. Nuala also turned to books and after boarding school, completed an undergraduate degree in medieval English at Hull University and a postgraduate degree in 19th-century literature at Oxford University (both on scholarships) before returning to the UCD English department as an academic.

She was a key member of heavy drinking Dublin’s literary scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, mixing with writers such as Mary Lavin, John McGahern, Patrick Kavanagh, Leland Bardwell and Louis MacNeice.

During the 70s she worked as a television producer for RTE, making programmes that explored women’s lives in Ireland and in the 80s was a columnist for the Irish Times. Are You Somebody? was initially to be a collection of her columns for the Irish Times, but turned into a starkly honest, illuminating memoir exploring her difficult childhood, her complicated relationship with men and the reality of being an unmarried middle-aged woman.

This is a memoir of great warmth, humour and openness. O’Faolain is a complicated woman – ostensibly a feminist, but aware of her own reliance on men; a daughter who finds it hard to forgive either parent, despite her love for them and a writer who often struggled to find her place.

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and before her untimely death at the age of 68, she gave a radio interview to RTE, with her friend Marian Finucane that is astonishing in its unsentimental bravery in the face of death and is considered a landmark piece of Irish radio broadcasting.

This is an astonishing memoir by an astonishing woman and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Read On: Book

Number Read: 217

Number Remaining: 529


And in the latest instalment of ‘Cathy Meets an Author and Feels the Need to Show Off About it on every available Social Media platform’ – this weekend I was really excited to meet one of my all-time favourite novelists David Mitchell.

I have been a fan for a long time and have read all his books and he was an absolute gent. At his event at HomePlace, he read from his new novel, which is coming out next year, and talked about how he wants each novel he writes to be completely different from the last, meaning he is always nervous as to whether or not it will be any good.

From the sections, we heard on Saturday, I do not think he has anything to worry about and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. He was interviewed by the poet and broadcaster John Kelly and here I am looking like a little kid who has just squeezed in between them for a picture!


So that’s been my reading and working life this week – looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in May when I’ll be reading some Daphne du Maurier for Heaven Ali’s Du Maurier Reading Week and will be finalising my list and announcing the dates for this years 20 Books of Summer!

My Post

Anyone planning to join me?

20 Books of Summer Irish Literature The 746

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Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

20 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Yay! 20 books of summer! I’ll be back!

    So pleased you loved the Nuala O book. I loved it when I read it a few years back. Have you read her novel My Dream of You? That’s also an extraordinary read and one I highly recommend.

    Great picture too … you do get to meet some truly interesting people in your job! 😊

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    • Oh, good to know that Nuala’s novel is worth reading too – I loved Are You Somebody? so much that now I want to read everything she’s written! I can’t not do 20 Books at this stage – it’s great fun and since I finished it last year I really have no excuse this year!

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  2. Ah yes, you have found my heart there with Don DeLillo – I read White Noise a long time ago, twice at least. It was Underworld which captured my heart originally and set me to reading his books. I’ve read that one three times. I’ve read all but a few of his early works. And Mitchell? Omg – I think I’ver read all of his (not so crazy about the last few though.).
    I read Nuala O’Faolain long ago. I read MILKMAN and SAY NOTHING for “Read Ireland” month – Northern Ireland and the Troubles. Loved them.
    Keep it up Cathy!

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    • Underworld is a real favourite of mine too Becky – it’s about time for a reread I think! David was a real gent – it’s always nice when your favourite authors are lovely people. Now, if I could just book Don deLillo 😉

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  3. Sounds like real life has been very busy lately, Cathy….. ! 😀 Don’t worry about deadlines, though I’ll be interested to hear what you think about Stoner. It seems to have gone from universal acclaim to perhaps some slightly dissenting voices. Intriguing… 😉

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  4. I read White Noise a few years ago and was amazed by how *funny* it was—a delightful surprise!

    Omg what is David Mitchell’s new book to be called?! (Or was he even allowed to share that information?) And of course, I’m excited for 20 BoS again…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Someone in my book group loved Stoner and I just wasn’t so taken… I tried Zero K and found it a bit… cold, so I might give White Noise a go. I could do with some funny.

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  6. I am a huge DeLillo fan! White Noise was the first of his I read, and I’ve read it a couple times since. I was lucky enough to get my copy of Zero K signed by Mr. DeLillo here in Toronto a couple of years ago. Sadly no photos were allowed. I did manage to thank him for his books. I did feel a slight pang of jealousy seeing your pic with David Mitchell, another favourite. I’m new to your blog and am enjoying it very much.

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  7. You know, I tried to read White Noise a few years ago, but my timing was clearly off as I just couldn’t get into it at the time. Maybe I should try again with it at some point, especially as it still sounds incredibly relevant to the consumerist society of today.

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  8. White Noise is the only DeLillo I’ve read so far but I thought it was brilliant! The quintessential post-modern novel indeed. And very exciting about David Mitchell! I’ve only read Black Swan Green which I adored, I really need to read more of his work.

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  9. Both of these sound great, it’s been years since I read DeLillo and White Noise sounds right up my street.
    I loved Stoner so I hope you do too, agree it is very sad though.
    I’m so pleased to hear David Mitchell is lovely! I can still read books by authors who seem not very nice but it’s so much better to know they’re decent humans!

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  10. Heheh Yes, I totally believe that you could have a hangover from all the work that you did in March. Event hosting is tiring (fun, still, but nobody ever said that fun things couldn’t also be tiring). And I love that you, too, have that “read for an event but actually read it way later” thing going on too. Also, I love Nuala O’Faolain, so delightfully bookish.

    Like

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