Dickens In The Other Room

IMG_0154 So anyway, 2016. Looking back at my manifesto* for 2015, the words ‘abject’ followed by ‘failure’ would seem appropriate, if a little on the pedestrian side. The plan, brimful of good intent, was to take down from my shelves – and open – five lengthy tomes. But 60% of them eluded my grasp despite being only inches away from my fingers at various times. So did I read Moby-Dick? Of course not. The Old Curiosity Shop? Alas, no. Did I manage to open The Famished Road† and see what all the fuss was about? Oh, what do you think. But…that is the debit side of the column and we should not dwell too much on it. Because, come on, I pledged to read The Goldfinch and The Impressionist too, and managed those. They were pretty page-heavy, so it’s not an entirely dismal picture. In addition, cost and indolence usually prevent me from doing so but I picked up several books which had got publishers into a recent tizzy such as H Is For Hawk, A Brief History Of Seven Killings and Elizabeth Is Missing. This was a qualified success but it is probably instructive that, pound for pound, the novels I enjoyed the most last year for their sheer, simple pleasure were two old ones, The War Of The Worlds and Lost Horizon, plus one published a mere 20-odd years ago, A Dead Man In Deptford. And of course Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was madly long and utterly brilliant. Enough rampant self-justification – instead here’s some good news: I was thrilled beyond words to receive a comment accusing me of making a ‘pathetic misjudgment’ about The Bone People. This is the sort of thing that online egotists such as myself live for: readers with constructive, if impertinent, axes to grind. They are still wrong, obviously. Terribly wrong. But the new year has begun, time is pressing and booksellers with physical premises (Amazon’s new one in Seattle doesn’t count) are calling to me. Must dash: another 12 happy months of reading beckons…

* A grand term, yes, but thoroughly merited

I promise faithfully, on my honour, to read these lengthy classics in 2016: but then again, I’ve said that sort of thing before

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2 thoughts on “Dickens In The Other Room

  1. Well played Hilly – I wish I could think of a cutting judgement to add to your axe grinders list, but suffice to say, please keep those crackling literary reviews coming – you are indeed the guiding light through our deeply forested bookshelves.

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