Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today's guest is Gary, aka Parrish Lantern, who describes himself as "a malt whisky drinking, single-speed bike racing, poetry-loving bookfiend — and if this makes me seem cool, it's all in the edit".
Gary called his blog The Parrish Lantern because it is a colloquialism for the moon (his surname), which was the only light source for rural places back in the mists of time, the only lantern to light a route through the dark paths and byways.
Away from the web, Gary is happily married with an 11-year-old daughter ("I have realised that the coolest thing you can actually be is a father"). He is a Day Centre Officer who works with adults who have learning difficulties.
Without further ado, here are Gary's Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
A favourite book: La Disparition (A Void) by Georges Perec
This is a very hard question, or very easy depending on timescale — at the moment one of my favourites is Georges Perec's La Disparition (A Void). A Void is Gilbert Adair’s translation of the original French novel La Disparition (The Disappearance) written in 1969 as a lipogrammatic novel. This means it is written in its entirety without the letter E, following Oulipo constraints. By choosing this constraint you deprive yourself of one essential article “The” and approximately two-thirds of the English language. In French Perec’s native language the situation is even worse, with only around an eighth of the vocabulary left for use.
This book is a detective tale of sorts and is a fantastic, capricious, incredible, wonderful, hallucinatory, delight. It made me think, it made me laugh, really laugh. It also inspired me to write my post about the book partially as a lipogram.
A book that changed my world: The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
Nearly three years ago, I had a accident on one of my race bikes — I ripped my knee open and was off work for almost six months. This coincided with a reading slump, where all I read was thrillers/detective fiction, just devoured them, didn't need to think, just read one after another. One day in the library I picked up Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives, purely based on the cover.
This novel spans a couple of decades, crosses continents and dives deep below the underbelly of Latin American society. Its cast of poets, some are thieves — all are victims whether by choice or not — explode across the page to die seconds later, some hang by their fingernails for a while longer before being left in some dingy dive wittering to themselves that they have more to offer. But the tale, as with life, has left them and moved on.
I read it, loved it and wanted to find out more. The main source of information seemed to be blogs, hence I discovered blogging, liked what I saw and started The Parrish Lantern.
A book that deserves a wider audience: The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
This should have been easy and yet, where do I start? Then I thought about a writer whose centenary is this year, but who will get lost among the noise surrounding Charles Dickens, making this writer's work an obvious example of writing that deserves wider acclaim. The book is The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. This wonderful tetralogy, as Durrell explains in his preface to Balthazar, “are four novels that are an exploration of relativity and the notions of continuum and subject–object relation, with modern love as the subject". But beyond that it’s a book of words that have a poetic urgency that will make you gasp with the realisation that language can be expressed with such a painful beauty and yet still be human.
Thanks, Gary, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
One of the best things about compiling this series is discovering new-to-me books and Gary has ably selected three I've not read. I have, however, heard of them and the Lawrence Durrell book went on to my wishlist after I read Deborah Lawrenson's Songs of Blue and Gold, which is based on Durrell's life.
What do you think of Gary's choices? Have you read any of these books?