Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Road

So, just before Christmas I received my much awaited treasure of a parcel...a first edition of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. In all my moving disorderliness, I hadn't realised until it had been released that this was coming, but snaffled one up. In my hot little hands is a slender hardcover in a shiny black dustjacket with only the name of the book & author on it. A little dull maybe.
Timing wasn't great - we were off on holiday and I didn't want to risk travelling with it, so held on and started when I got back. In the end, I think this was a good call, as this is not a book that you really want to read while on a wacky great adventure. This is a book for curling up in the sanctuary of your home, warm, well fed & protected from the world.
I love McCarthy's work, as previously noted in this blog. However, I do appreciate that at times his prose can be a little ...wordy? Of all the people I have lent his books to, I can think of only one or two who have finished, and I don't think I have made any real converts. This is tough reading. You need to be interested in appreciating each sentence for itself, not necessarily for its contribution to any linear narrative or plot. Having said that, McCarthy is a master at place. Place is a central (or sometimes the central) character, and it is felt more than anything else.
The Road is a little different. For many of his early works, McCarthy gave us epic Western adventures. He has been moving away from this with No Country for Old Men, which has the feel of the Western but set clearly in the present, and now with The Road.
The Road is an apocalyptic novel like no other. This novel has all the ingredients of your good apocalypse story - enough to make you want to become a survivalist actually! - but at base the real story is internal. The narrative line centres around two characters,and McCarthy weaves you into their experience so effortlessly that you are captured in this time (thus the need for cosy safe surrounds) - this is not a pleasant place to inhabit. As with all McCarthy works, there is evil, and it is discussed in the same manner that everything else is. Without any drama, or heightened emotion, bad things happen, just as they tend to do in real life. You can't predict it. And you are squarely faced with it - there is no shying away.
The glory of this work, in my opinion, is again McCarthy's prose. While his earlier works were highly evocative, with broad, looping, wandering sentences, this feels pared back to its essence. It is as though, in needing to tell an 'essential' story - one that is about the very core of us all - he has managed to tell it in the most essential of words. It is beautiful, poetic, and remains evocative in all senses.
This is a must read. Simon has read it already - a miracle in itself! - which confirms to me that this is an accessible McCarthy novel. But be warned - it is unsettling, and (most uncharacteristically for me!) you will need tissues.
As a brief postscript, it appears that this is going to be made into a movie - and that No Country for Old Men is on the way to film production as well. It will be interesting to see - it feels like it could be a great movie, but a difficult one, to watch as well as make.

More reviews are here, from Village Voice, Random House (publisher notes) and a good selection at Powells.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Eye Candy Friday + More!

I can't believe I still haven't posted anything decent! I am a bad bad blogger. Actually, I am kinda busy and driving to work now doesn't help. Also new house requires more attention, and its winter. Enough excuses? Well, I think I need to show off with a pic of our recent weather for ECF....

But also (finally!) pics of my scarf...

pattern: my so called scarf
yarn: Rowan Tapestry in 'Country'
needles: boring old metal ponys.

what i learned.....

  • i love Rowan Tapestry
  • new stitches are fun stitches
  • scarves are much more rewarding when they don't turn themselves into big tubes
  • don't leave your boyfriend home alone when he might decide to wash the brand new completed scarf without blocking it (...but it survived just fine!)
  • Sometimes you should stop when you think it is done, not when you have used all the yarn.

Let me just say - i love this scarf. It goes with everything. It is far too long, but who cares. It is cosy cosy warm, and now it has been washed and put in the freezer for a bit the fluff-everywhere thing has gone. Love it. To death.

Anyway, also made a friend some Fetchings but forgot to take pics prior to the giving (but was beautifully, graciously received with much awe!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Eye Candy Friday!

Spoiled for choice with pics from our wonderful holiday, but chose this one -
serene, other-worldly Salzburg (from here, anyway!). Good for stressed out, wish-I-wasn't-here Fridays. Not that it is Friday yet, just getting ready in case!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Austrian delights

So most of our pics are on our other website ( but there are a few craft related pics that I thought should go on this blog! Firstly, there were wool shops everywhere. Even Bad Gastein had one (yes, I did give in and buy just a few small balls. Not much more would fit in the pack!) I looked longingly in this one - the shops are beautiful, with such an array of yarn. People in this part of the world obviously knit, and knit well. This shop was in the old town in Salzburg.

The Christmas decorations were also beautiful (generally), and quite different to what I am used to, so a pic of those too: these were on the outside windowsills of the main building of our pension.
Also, our lovely hosts bought us little Christmas cookies on Christmas eve - and a bottle of wine! Unfortunately, I didn't get around to taking the picture until some eating had occurred, but you get the idea! Very Very Yummy, and all handmade. These people seriously love their food. I can't believe they aren't all the size of houses.
I did do some knitting, and will take some pics soon, promise. Also reading was completed, with reviews to report - I managed to have a few days sick, which meant less skiing than I would have liked, but more resting (which I probably needed). And in the end, the skiing was plenty! But more on that later...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Triumphant Return (well, unbroken anyway)

So we are back from our glorious, wonderful ski extravaganza. It was great. Really really great. I have photos to prove the greatness, but unfortunately all time since getting back has been spent unpacking boxes and trying to make at least one room of our new house look reasonable. Which has finally been achieved at 4pm on Sunday! Phew! So maybe photos this week sometime.
Highlights -
Skiing from the top of a mountain (around 2100m) to the bottom. One run. 1.5 hours. 1 stop for gluhwine. Yay!
Birthday dinner with Simon & the boys - beautiful, thoughtful food and amazing service.
New Years Eve. Alarmingly fully of explosives. More later, but incredible. Also, several hours of dancing in the snow with many wonderful Austrians
An alm near Angertal that you could ski to, with the best soup in the world, a crazy excellent host who was keen to correct my nonexistent German & free schnaps (for funny Australians!)

Lowlights -
having a sinus infection on day 3. Blah.
Dwindling snow. But still better than almost anything in Australia!

So - I guess you can tell that I enjoyed myself. Lots.
Now back into the swing of things. Have made contact with a local knitting group in Oxford, & will try to hook up with them this week, also a yoga class nearby. Less luck with orchestras so far, but will keep trying. And hopefully the weather will improve next weekend and I can venture into the garden - and with a camera!

Happy New Year!