Dear Dog Eared Readers,
I thought I would write you a letter today, an online letter – I believe there are some more modern names for such things, electronic mail and all that, but no, this is most definitely a letter. Because of it being so tradition demands that I ask, how are you? How has the weather been where you are? The humidity where I am means that my hair is increasing by an alarming amount as each day goes by, birds could happily live in the nest that it is.
Today I am finishing ‘Troubling Love’ by Elena Ferranta (Europa Editions £7.99), ready for book group tonight, and I must say I do find it very troubling indeed. As a HUGE fan of the Neapolitan series I have to confess I am really struggling with this, I am not engaged with the protagonist or any of the characters, the mystery that has been set up has not got me hooked, I find the prose to be stilted to the point I often find I have completely lost the flow of the novel. I have around 50 pages to go and I am intrigued to see if anything can be rescued but it feels unlikely. I did question whether some of the problems came about from the translation, but then it is the same translator who worked on the Neapolitan series and I have not a jot of bother with it there. The book was one of Ferrante’s first pieces of fiction to be published and I can see why it didn’t catapult her into success as her following work went on to do. There are also A LOT of ideas and themes in this novel that are expanded on and put to much better use in the Neapolitan series. I will be interested to see what book group make of it tonight, I do worry that if you have not read Ferrante before then this could put you off looking at any of her later works, which would be a shame, but to be honest I think it would have done just that to me. I shall report back and let you all know!
I have also been working hard on the novel and feel that I have made some real progress. I eventually came to the decision about the tense to be used in the book and honestly, the night the decision was made was quite ridiculous. I found myself so wound up there was a point I felt physically sick with the pressure of the decision. In the end I have gone for what is totally right for me, my style and how I want the book to work and I am ignoring all the other voices around me, sometimes advice is the greatest and at other times I think the greatest thing is to completely forget what you have been told. SO, we are going with first AND third person, what a turn up for the books (the book) eh?! I know some out there won’t be so keen on this style but I beg for trust on this one, I have faith in this part really working.
Schedules have also been put in place so that the serious work has begun now. I have word counts to hit and dates to have chapters produced by. I am approaching it by just going with the flow for the first draft, getting the chapter down on paper without worrying too much about it, just letting the story slip onto the page. I will then do a read through on the computer and edit that chapter again (several times most likely), I will then be printing the chapter out for another edit as somehow I just find the experience of reading the text on paper different and I do spot mistakes missed on the screen that way. Last but not least I will then pass on that chapter for peer review to my darling first reader, who will also be reading this, she is so hideously talented in her book choices and her own writing that I really can’t think of anybody better, I also know that she will be honest with me but in way that doesn’t leave me weeping in the corner and throwing the whole thing into a fire never to be seen again.
So that is where we are at right now, I have a day off work tomorrow which means I can get some serious hours in, once again ignoring all the cleaning type jobs that need doing at home. The next update will most likely be after I’ve had the first chapter reviewed and how that whole process went.
I finish writing this post on the day that the Man Booker Shortlist has been announced. I must tell you, I am VERY unhappy, to me there is no rhyme or reason as to why ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout is not on there, it is one of the finest pieces of fiction I’ve read this year. I have two of the shortlist in my ‘to read’ pile so we’ll see if my views change any time soon but I think it is highly unlikely!
So readers, have you read much Ferrante? And what do you think of the Man Booker Shortlist? As always, drop a line in the comments or over on Twitter! Also – quick question, we have a Dog Eared Reads base on Twitter but would you like a group of some sort on Facebook where I can post links, quick book updates that don’t require a whole post and where commenting might be a little easier? Let me know!
Until next time, happy reading!
Dear Dog Eared Readers,