It is a beautiful, sunny day. Jennie and son have decided to sleep in. Just as well, for they have a long drive ahead of them: they are heading back to Claremont today, boo.
But, first there will be brunch!
Self keeps herself occupied by reading. Her current book is Ruth Rendell’s The Monster in the Box.
Self’s first Ruth Rendell mystery was Thirteen Steps Down, and it was absolutely fascinating, a novel told from the point of view of a murderer. The main character (the murderer) did not have as spectacular a psyche as, say, Hannibal Lecter or others of his ilk, but was rather a run-of-the-mill sad sack who had no idea that he was capable of murder — that is, until he finally went and did it (more out of pique than, even, of anger). Self would never have thought she would be quite so engaged. Anyhoo, after that book, self added Rendell to her list of favorite crime writers, a list that includes Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Morag Joss, and Arnaldur Indridason (She also recently added a new name to the list: Colin Harrison, whose thriller The Finder self read in Paris, during the few days she spent in a friend’s apartment, in July)
The Monster in the Box is again about a twisted soul, but this time we are in the point of view of a decent man, a recurring character in Rendell’s books, an Inspector Wexford. Self has not yet been able to pinpoint his age, as — despite her best efforts — she is still only on p. 76 (and she began the book about a week ago).
But that’s OK! Because self finished the novel she is reviewing, and she worked hard on her novel-in-progress, and son came two days ago with Jennie, and various other exciting things happened, which will keep on happening, self is sure, until the end of the holidays.
Casting a glance at the blurbs on the back of the book, self finds this by P. D. James: “She has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche.”
And here’s something from Marilyn Stasio, the crime columnist for the New York Times Book Review:
“Ruth Rendell is my dream writer. Her prose style, so intricate in design and supple in execution, has the disquieting intimacy of an alien touch in the dark.”
Again, hear, hear. Turning, now, to one of self’s recent posts, she finds that a lot of people are viewing the post about Naguib Mahfouz, the one in which she quoted from an issue of The Economist (September 2, 2006). It is quite clear, after re-reading that obituary, that Mahfouz was a writer of place. Quoting from The Economist:
. . . he was born, in 1911, in Gamaliya, a 1,000-year-old quarter whose densely packed and labyrinthine lanes were overhung by balconies that blotted out the daylight. By the time he was six his father, a local merchant, had done well enough for himself to join the flight of Cairo’s burgeoning middle class to the airier, more modern parts of town. But Mr. Mahfouz never lost his love of the Old City. Many of his most pungent novels were set there and drew their titles from it: Zuqaq al Midaq (Midaq Alley), Al Sukariya (Sugar Street).
Truly, your earliest memories never fail you.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.