I didn’t do a lot of reading in March! I had a pretty interesting February in reading but it was the beginning of a bit of a slump which continued through March, helped along by a really stressful deadline. I did manage to listen to two audiobooks and read one physical book though, so I didn’t give up completely.
American Housewife by Helen Ellis*
So, I read this in a couple hours which is unusual for me. I haven’t read a whole book in one day for a while! But this might have something to do with this being big print on 185 pages with 32 being blank or title pages.
Now, I’m not sure I actually enjoyed it no matter how fast I read it. It’s a strange mish-mash of twelve stories within the theme of the American Housewife and while I think if any of these stories was fleshed out into an actual book, I could be convinced to pick them up… In short short story form they felt like the flash fiction that would be written from writing prompts of the titles.
On the other hand, her sister is one of the hosts of the podcast One Bad Mother which I adore! I’d reccomend that any day.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
I listened to the audiobook of this because it’s read by the author and I adore her YouTube about death positivity. She’s taught me a lot about grief over the year or so I’ve been subscribed and has helped me through grieving in my personal life. With the audiobook though, I actually found her voice quite hard to concentrate on, it’s too soothing! But fall asleep to a book about death and expect weird dreams.
As for the actual book, I really liked it. I learnt a lot but it was an enjoyable learning experience filled with personal stories on a topic I don’t think I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. From the obsessive compulsive rituals she developed as a kid after seeing a young child die, to a suicide attempt, this book doesn’t shy away from anything on Doughty’s death journey.
I’m definitely going to buy a physical copy of this, and her newer book when I’m not on my book-buying-ban because I think they’ll be a good physical read.
Note: There is use of the term ‘hermaphrodites’, rather than intersex which is really something writers and editors need to pick up on more. This isn’t the first time I’ve read this outdated term in a contemporary book.
If the American optimist led to the ‘prettying up’ of the corpse… British pessimism led to the removal of the corpse and the death ritual from polite society.
Blandings Castle… And Elsewhere by P. G. Wodehouse
I’m not a big lover of short stories, I don’t know why, maybe because I don’t get the same sense of immersion. So while P.G. Wodehouse is fast becoming a favourite and these stories were good, I didn’t love them as much as I hoped. His mastery of the English language and comedic timing is evident in everything he writes though.
There were six Blandings Castle stories, one concerning Bobbie Wickham who features in two of Wodehouse’s other series as a bit of a side character, and five about the Mulliners of Hollywood- telling tales of old Hollywood from the point of view of a rather unreliable narrator. I prefered the Blandings ones as I’m rather fond of the family by now but they were all fun enough.
A ray of sunshine, which had been advancing jauntily along the carpet, caughts sight of his face and slunk out, abashed.