What we’re reading: Andrews, Reid & Dolan
Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.
Bronte Coates is reading Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan (available April)
I recently got my hands on an early copy of this exciting fiction debut from Irish writer Naoise Dolan. Newly arrived in Hong Kong from Dublin, Ava meets Julian. They form – if not a relationship – an attachment of sorts. Then Ava meets Edith. They form an attachment of their own, one that flourishes in Julian’s absence. And then he writes to say he’s coming home. Exciting Times is an excellent pick for a reader who enjoyed Sally Rooney’s novels and is looking to read another story about confused youths trying to navigate the modern world. Dolan’s stylish prose is immediately engaging, littered with witty and sharp observations, and Ava is someone we can all relate to. Keep your eye out for this book in April!
Leanne Hall is reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I read Kiley Reid’s novel over last weekend, and it really was the perfect book for my mood at the time. It’s a debut novel which has had quite a bit of buzz around it, and I can absolutely see why. Mid-twenties Emira babysits for Alix three times a week, forging a particularly strong connection with her toddler Briar. As the novel opens, we see Emira coming to Alix’s aid last-minute and late at night, only to be bailed up in a grocery store by a security guard accusing her of kidnapping Briar. As it turns out, this is only the beginning of how complicated their lives are about to get.
Emira is an African-American college graduate grappling with what direction her career should take; Alix is a white, economically privileged speaker/‘entrepreneur’ trying to write her first book. Reid writes from both women’s perspectives with a great deal of empathy, and she is incredibly skillful at depicting the clashing worlds and lives of Emira and Alex. Such a Fun Age tackles ideas around race and class with such gusto and entertainment value, and if asked to summarise the book, I would say ‘morally ambiguous’. It’s so even-handed in its approach that, after finishing it, I listened immediately to an interview with the author, in an effort to figure out my own feelings a little more.
Chris Gordon is rereading Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
I’ve read trash of late – complete trash with the delicious feeling as having done so for work. I truly relished getting stuck back into this particular novel. I first read it as a young teenager when it went flying around the girl’s college I attended at the speed of lightening. We were entranced by the descriptions of sexual awakening, of terrible parenting, of those goddamn donuts. Rereading Flowers in the Attic as a mature literary lover was a trip down memory lane but it was also completely bewildering. The language in the book is quite dense. It is actually very well written but really, how were we allowed to read such insane rubbish? I also read the follow-up book, Petals on the Wind, and the plot is completely and utterly ridiculous, and yet, like my recent TV habit of Next in Fashion, I could not put it aside.
If you too have memories of the evil grandmother, of wandering eyes over bodies, and of the references to Shakespeare, show no shame and re-read. And then join us for a special event…