Every Friday Scot Lit Fest shares what they’ve been reading in the past week.
Fen – Daisy Johnson (Jonathan Cape)
Real people live their lives here. They wrestle with familiar instincts, with sex and desire, with everyday routine. But the wild is always close at hand, ready to erupt. This is a place where animals and people commingle and fuse, where curious metamorphoses take place, where myth and dark magic still linger. So here a teenager may starve herself into the shape of an eel. A house might fall in love with a girl. A woman might give birth to a – well what?
From absorbing personalities of prey, to a house that – as the blurb suggests – might fall in love with a girl, there’s a dark magic that touches Daisy’s stories. Fen is on one hand ordinary. There’s couples, sex, pubs, marriage. But within that, she weaves tales of magic and darkness, of inexplicable things, underpinned with something you understand. A longing, a need, that’s ordinary, but works with the otherworldly.
The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape)
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.
If you don’t like your thoughts meandering and your philosophies pseduo this might not be for you. It’s a troubled yet accepting reflection upon a life semi-well lived, ordinary, with splashes of magnificent that you know Tony wishes he had more of even if he doesn’t explicitly say so. In parts genuinely funny and consistently highly observant this will ring true to those with a few more miles on the clock as it tackles memory, what it means to remember and how deceptive it can truly be.
So, what have you all been reading this week?