September 17th, 2020

Matters Arising

It sounded like it was raining last night but it wasn't. What I was hearing was the wind in the trees and the leaves falling down.

Julia has been staying in St Ives (the Cornish one) living among locals not emmets (the locals' not altogether insulting- indeed rather pretty- word for incomers and holiday makers.) The estate where her friend lives has a community garden with fruit trees and a skate park in the process of being built and places to sit out and look at the sea; also a big sort of cupboardy thing, well-roofed (I'm not sure if I'm visualising it correctly) with drawers- where you can deposit items you no longer need- like books and clothes and school uniforms- and help yourself to anything you want- and all without money coming into the equation. If we were the horrible creatures the media says we are this would be abused but we're not so it isn't. I call it a vision of the future.

I sometimes ask myself who my favourite living author is. There are several contenders. Ali Smith? David Mitchell? And I always forget about Susannah Clarke because  she keeps a low profile and has only one enormous novel and a collection of short stories to her name- but now she has a new novel out and it sounds different and  fascinating- and I'm putting in an order with Amazon. My favourite living author? Susannah Clarke. Absolutely. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is the only book by a living author I've read more than once. It may also be the only novel by a living author I unreservedly love.

I thought I loved Nicholas Nickleby too but I'm finding it hard to get through on the re-read. It has a wonderful cast of characters- but they're dependent on a central story that's hard to get worked up about. Nick and Kate and their deliciously scatty mother have been defrauded by their wicked uncle- but Nick is a smart lad, clever, talented, successful with women- so any set-back is only going to be temporary and I can't see why we're making such a fuss about it. Besides which he's not terribly interesting and neither is Ralph and Kate is a frightful drip who spends her time suffering nobly and weeping in corners. I care about Newman Noggs and I care about the Mantalinis and I care about Miss La Creevy and I care about Mr Crummles and his touring company (How Dickens loved the theatre!) but Nick and Kate and Uncle Ralph? Meh!