Friday, 14 January 2011

Book records

I'm going to try out Library Thing and see if that's a better way to keep track of what I've been reading. I chose it over Goodreads because it's designed for librarians and only has social networking added as an afterthought. I think I need to decide whether it's to record things I've read or things I own. In the meantime here's a review I had already written of something I read in 2010.

1. Exercises in Style, Raymond Queneau
This is the sort of thing which was written to be read by creative writing students and academics who work on literature.  It's the short story of a man who accuses another of jostling him on the bus and is then seen again later talking to a friend about his coat, but rewritten ninety-nine times in different styles.  It's also perhaps an exploration of what it is to be clever, and what it is to be bored.  Lots of people rave about it. It's by one of those writers who lived a writerly life to a greater extent than he actually wrote, and it's just not my sort of thing, as you may be gathering.  On the plus side it wouldn't take you long to read it, and then you'll have read it.  I do quite like being in a state of having read it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.


  1. Without wishing to be pretentious, but failing, did you read it in French? It is much better in French, albeit in a slightly 'look at me enjoying reading this book in French' kind of way, which is not an attractive attitude.

  2. I didn't read it in French -- I'd be surprised if my French were good enough, to be honest. I can just about read stories but I think style might be beyond me... I can't remember where I saw it recommended, probably on an America book blog, but the recommendation said that the translation was a good one, admired by Queneau himself. Heigh ho. I was probably being a bit harsh on it, and maybe it was ground-breaking in the forties, but it seemed a lot like the sort of thing an intelligent but unbearable sixth-former would do. And there were styles that weren't that different from each other, and lots of other styles that he didn't use. Also the cover was plastered in quotations from English authors saying that it had long been one of their favourite works and that irritated me too. Actually I think, in retrospect, I was definitely being over tetchy.

  3. No, that sounds like ample grounds for tetchiness. 'Like an unbearable sixth-former' is very fair, and would be a better quote for the cover.