Thursday 6 September 2007

waiting for a bus

You know how it goes: you spend weeks/months not particularly enthused about what you're reading and then suddenly you realise that there's a bumper crop coming up.

I've just ordered a copy of Denis Johnson's new novel Tree of Smoke. His first novel in 9 years, it looks like a hefty tome and I can't wait. Johnson is an intriguing writer. A poet, playwright, journalist and novelist he often writes about those people at the margins, those underneath the surface of American society in particular. His novels aren't all consistent but I would recommend his first Angels, his most recent The Name of The World and his collection of stories Jesus' Son which was made into a good film by Alison Maclean starring Billy Cruddup, Jack Black and Samantha Morton.

Also soon to be published is the latest from Philip Roth. Exit Ghost looks to be the final novel featuring Roth's alter ego Nathan Zuckerman. I have always enjoyed reading Roth's work even if it doesn't all reach the heights of American Pastoral. His writing of late has been very much about the inexorable journey towards death and recent publicity shots have shown him looking, well, miserable as usual so I was cheered to see this interview recently and the picture above in particular.

Last but by no means least is Men In Space the new novel from Tom McCarthy. His first novel Remainder is quite simply the best book I have read this century (I know, it's early days). Brave, challenging and unique I urge you to read it now if you haven't already. This new book sounds very different and I had to stop myself mugging someone who was reading it on the bus yesterday.

Now that would be a headline:

Man mugged on bus for literary fiction


John Self 23 October 2007 at 08:47  

Roth is very clever about his own public image. He has a reputation as a journalist-hating grouch and loves to live up to that. Yet he's constantly being interviewed each time a new book comes out (ie every 18 months), and when you read something like his interview with Hermione Lee from earlier this year, you can see how playful and, well, nice he really is.

And Exit Ghost is terrific.

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