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 Eva Stalker, a writer from Glasgow, Scotland who is working on her first collection of short stories.
In November 2014, Eva began a reading project to take a break from buying books by reading 20 she already owns. Lots of readers are taking part online and you can join them by using the #TBR20 hashtag on Twitter. Visit Eva’s blog to learn more about why the project came about.
You can follow her on Twitter @evastalker.
Without further ado, here’s Eva’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
In Saramago’s 1995 novel, everyone in the world goes blind except one person. Forget those solemn literary dystopias that rest on some mythic Bad Thing That Happened Long Ago – Blindness opens as the epidemic begins and energetically depicts a society as it falls apart.
I adore Saramago’s understated humour and agile voice. I love those run-on sentences that pile dialogue, narration and observation on top of one another like coats at a party. Blindness also contains one of my favourite characters in fiction: the doctor’s wife. While those around her cannot see, she perceives precisely what she needs to do. Then, quietly and powerfully, she does it.
This was published in 2004 and changed my reading life. I was 20 years old and working in a bookshop. I would occasionally glance towards the graphic novel section of the shop, remembering I’d enjoyed comics and drawing as a child, but I never quite found my way back to them. Then the special comics issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern came along and changed all that.
The 13th issue of McSweeney’s is a beautiful clothbound hardback with a dust jacket with little extra comics tucked into it that folds out into work by Chris Ware. It’s packed with samples from incredible cartoonists plus essays on the form. It seems strange now to think of myself as a reader who didn’t know Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Joe Sacco and all the rest, but it was the special comics issue of McSweeney’s that introduced them to me. Ten years on, I wouldn’t be without the artists I discovered in its pages. Above all, I wouldn’t be without Lynda Barry’s generous stories about creativity and the bewitched universe of Jim Woodring’s Frank.
I don’t doubt that people have heard of Rhys (although fame came to her late in her own life), but I do worry that readers tick off teacher’s choice Wide Sargasso Sea and move on to other things. Rhys’s other four novels are better – bleaker, fiercer, more desperate. And her short stories are phenomenal. In particular, her bitter, haunting story Let Them Call It Jazz is important to me. I first read it when I was 19. It broke through a numbness I was feeling then and reminded me there were essential things I found in fiction. I reread it at least once a year.
Thanks, Eva, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’ve got Blindness in my TBR, so might have to pull that one of my shelf at some point, and I’m fascinated by the McSweeney’s. I must look into the Jean Rhys collection as she’s one of my favourite authors, and I love her novels, which are often so heartbreaking.
What do you think of Eva’s choices? Have you read any of these books?