Hungover today. Mixing red wine and champagne after seeing Steve Coogan who was damn near terrible wasn’t very smart. We had front row seats. Yayy! Imagine getting roped on stage by one of his slutty caricatures who he then pretends to bang behind the curtain. Perish the thought. Trotted off to my fav book shop at lunchtime to lift my mood. Went there with the intention of hoarding some Flannery O’ Connor or Carson McCuller based on this exchange I had with H earlier:
B: What was the last book by a woman that you read?
H: Mary Gaitskill's Veronica or Zadie Smith's On Beauty. I've recently read some more Flannery O'Connor short stories, but I thought she was a man. Actually, I stand corrected, I read Carson Mcculler's the Heart is a Lonely Hunter earlier this year, and loved it. Wrote like a deranged man. After perusing the hundreds of titles in my bookshelf, I can confirm that these are the only 4 female novelists that I own.
I ended up with Thomas Berger’s Feud about quarreling neighbours in 1930s small-town America. I selected four pages at random and every one was a winner – two of them were potentially laugh-out loud given the appropriate context. After getting back to work, I went on Amazon where there are four reviews all raves and thoughtfully constructed. I like this one for mentioning the saintly Charles Portis:
“This book is a cruel masterpiece of cynical and nasty slapstick humor. The protagonists, the Bullards and the Beelers, are both families of barely sentient wit who behave in ways that are competely understandable, completely human, and completely stupid. Berger's writing and plotting, though, are first-rate-- I laughed out loud throughout this thing, and I've read it three times over the last 25 years (time to read it again). You've met people like this before in the works of Flannery O'Connor, Faulkner, Charles Portis, and Erskine Caldwell, but Berger's light touch makes "The Feud" a real find.”
They had a Flannery O Connor book of short stories there A Good Man is Hard to Find, but I put it back and picked up two James Purdy books. I’ve heard good things about him. Gore Vidal calls him a genius. I was tempted to buy both, but I got freaked out by the almost fuchsia-coloured covers and the publisher Gay Modern Classics while at the same time Hercules and Love Affair came on my iPOD, I almost had a crisis of identity.
I’m still on the lookout for books by women writers. One of my goals this year is to read Middlemarch.