Friday, 20 July 2012

The Best of the Best

My current plan for this year is to move with my boyfriend to what my Dad resolutely refers to as That There London. Part of the moving process, along with convincing my darling man that picking up his towels post-shower is the good and right thing to do, is reducing the amount of stuff I own. This process has been difficult because it’s the first time I’ve looked at objects that I have had for years and had to consider them through the eyes of somebody else. I have never had to look at my various ornaments, books, CDs and DVDs and had to ask myself “will he like these?”

The most difficult example of this is my Grandmother’s lamp. My Grandma died in 2009 and my Grandfather followed her four months later and as such all of the things in their house needed to be sorted and kept, donated, or thrown away. The lamp in question had been on my Grandma’s bedside table for as long as I can remember and it reminds me of her, which is why I claimed it and placed it on my own bedside table. I miss her very much, and so my judgment is clouded. Through all these layers of affection and nostalgia I have a niggling suspicion that this lamp, my beloved lamp, might actually be hideously ugly. Part of the problem is the size; the thing is bloody huge, and as such, un-ignorable. The other problem is the design itself. It consists of a large cream lampshade supported by a gold metal base on which sits a six inch tall golden dog looking wistfully into the distance. And I still adore it.

I couldn’t get rid of it, and so my boyfriend may have to learn to love it as much as I do, although whenever I look at it I can’t help but think of the wagon-wheel coffee table of When Harry Met Sally fame and see, years in the future, my boyfriend shouting “I will never want that gold greyhound bedside lamp”.

Not all of my possessions have been as lucky as the lamp. I haven’t been able t stand by them all. My books have suffered as I haven’t been able to muster the same affection for history books I was forced to read during my A-levels as I have for inherited lighting fixtures. However, my bookshelves are still full, and these are the ones I would recommend to one and all…

The Crossing – Cormac McCarthy
I did my dissertation on McCarthy and Thomas Hobbes so I’m a little biased about him as an author. If you haven’t read anything by him before I would not recommend starting with this as his style takes a little warming up to. The Road is a better read for deciding whether or not McCarthy is for you. The Crossing is also part of a trilogy (the first book is All the Pretty Horses, the third Cities of the Plain) but it’s actually fine as a stand-alone novel. It’s dense and dark and fairly violent but it’s so beautiful that you’re carried through the more difficult descriptive sections fairly quickly. If you can manage this, have a go with Blood Meridian although I warn you, there’s a lot of scalping.

The Dispossessed – Ursula Le Guin
This is the first Science Fiction book I have ever read, and it was completely unexpected. Instead of focusing on the science aspect to an alternative future reality, Le Guin focuses on the unique social experiments conducted by the characters. It’s about science too, but it’s mostly about people, and because of that I found it unspeakably interesting to read.

One Bloody Thing After Another – Joey Comeau
Written by one of the co-creators of The best zombie story I’ve ever read, as it’s hilarious and utterly devastating…sometimes simultaneously.

What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge
Finally I return to my Grandma. I have a copy of this book that belonged to my Mother, and a copy of What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next in one book that belonged to my Grandmother. Like the lamp, they are things I can never get rid of, not just because of where they came from but because the stories are lovely, if a little old fashioned. Although, in a recent Google search I found a site called that sells pin-up style lingerie. I definitely don’t remember that being in the book.

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