In case you were wondering I haven't died in the compost heap or been attacked by a killer turnip. But I have moved and finished the first week of my new job. Its great to be doing a job which doesn't involve till stamps and what's more I enjoy.
Which isn't to say that deserting the turnips was an easy thing. Also having to leave 90% of my books at home has left something of a gap. So now I have to build a new library. Which shouldn't be too hard as I have access to a huge amount of new titles at work because publishers wanting us to have their writers at the festival send us lots of books in the post. Only since I started we only seem to have been sent the truly strange titles. However I did pick up a few from the shelf behind my desk and my latest read is Bernard MacLaverty's new collection of short stories Matters of Life and Death. I first read MacLaverty when I picked up a copy of Grace Notes from the staff bookshop at the book wholesalers I worked for. What I remember of Grace Notes is that it was set in Scotland and Northern Ireland and examined the religious differences and troubles in the latter through a story of music, and told the more domestic but no less significant story of a young woman coming to terms with love and loss.
Having only read two of the short stories in MacLaverty's new collection I can't really comment much, except to say that the stories are short, which is unusual today as short stories seem to be getting longer: I recently read Alice Munro's collection Runaway and encountered some very long stories.
I expect I'll finish Matters of Life and Death this weekend - I have a train journey to the delightful Weston-on-the-Mud (aka Weston-Super-Mare) tomorrow to take my Granny out for lunch which will provide plenty of reading time - and now I have to think about what's next. I could read Helen Simpson's Constitutional and continue with my short story pattern (recently read all of AL Kennedy's short story collections again, her new novel is due in spring 2007 but no news of a new short story collection as yet. However the story printed in the Threepenny Review, Family with Young Children, is up to the usual Kennedy standard, and can be found at the Review's website), or I could read more poetry - I been reading a combination of some wonderful Scottish poets (John Burnside, Robin Robertson, Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie and Carol Ann Duffy) for breakfast - or I could finally tackle Cloud Atlas, which I keep starting but then abandoning ... but then I did see a copy of ... oh dear, the paradox of choice.