Sunday, October 23, 2005


Sunday morning, Van Morrison playing, Frog at the gym leaving me in peace to cope with my hangover. English friends visiting, much wine consumed...

I like this literary meme she's done, so I thought I'd play along:

1. Take the first five novels from your bookshelf.
2. Book 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50.
4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100.
5. Book 4 -- second to last sentence on page 150.
6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph.
9. Name your sources.
10.Post to your blog.

I've also included the source and background to the books, I love the fact I can remember exactly where and when I bought them. They're usually attached to a particular moment and place in my life, easily reminded by the random bookmarks I use and leave in them.

In the paragraph below, I have changed the narrative voice by taking out names and pronouns. I guess all my books must be very character driven - there would have been a cast of many characters within this one paragraph.

Barrabas came to us by sea, she wrote in her delicate calligraphy. You're in my mind now because I'm travelling in a tank, and I feel you in my body because I'm sweating slightly and it reminds me of the times we managed to be together, in spite of the fighting all around. There is malocclusion and diplopia. He plays them through on the stereo, and she tells him it sounds like one of those Scottish bands from the eighties, like Orange Juice or Aztec Camera or Josef K. Ten minutes later, he was out on the street again, walking toward the hospital to see her.

  1. Isabel Allende - The House of the Spirits
    This is a second hand US paperback, I think I must have taken it off my sister when I met her part way through her South American backpacking odyessy in Cuba.

  2. Hanan Al-Shaykh - Beirut Blues
    Bought in a second-hand shop in Spitalfields, London, prior to a trip to Italy for a friend's wedding party in Tuscany. An excursion for a couple of nights, up to Venice, on my own, was a slightly odd experience. Too many couples for my liking, but I got preferential treatment from waiters as a lone female diner. Lots of free dessert, little extra dishes and digestives would appear on my table with a wink.

    The abandoned 'bookmark' is a stamped train ticket from Venice to Florence.

  3. Martin Amis - Time's Arrow
    I bought this in my final year at Warwick University from the campus bookshop. Amis visited us to give a seminar and discussion one evening. The head of our English department was Jeremy Treglown , a renowned academic, literary critic and one of Amis' father's old friends. I think the visit was a favour. I didn't take to Amis, I found him quite the arrogant, cold fish. I've also struggled with his books. But I do recommend Time's Arrow, it tells the story, backwards, of the life of a Nazi war criminal. The only one of his books I've enjoyed reading.

    Abandoned 'bookmark' is a letter from my Mum, (pre-email), with the 'latest' news and gossip from home.

  4. Simon Armitage - All Points North
    I bought this collection of poetry, short stories and thoughts whilst living in London, to read on a solo trip to Thailand. Armitage is a leading British poet, he also broadcasts on the radio a fair amount, he must be in his early forties now. I remember seeing him when I was seventeen, at an evening organised for the local sixth-formers in our county (Dorset). New, young poets read and explained their poetry to a group of spotty teenagers in a lecture theatre in Wimborne. I remember Simon Armitage most vividly, and bought a signed copy of his newly published collection. I think Carol Anne Duffy was the other poet.

    Abandoned bookmark is an entrance ticket to Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok, where I think I had a very painful massage en route to a diving trip on Ko Tao.

  5. Paul Auster - Oracle Night
    The most recent purchase, Paul Auster is an American author, who the French seem to love. I think I bought this in the WHSmiths at Waterloo on the return leg of a working trip to London. A slight magical realism feel to it, I seem to remember, but very pleasurable reading.

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