stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
I went into the library for something else entirely, and came away with this. Doesn't it always happen that way?

Something of a curiosity, this - a collection of stories by the great and the good of British literature today, plus a cartoon by Posy Simmonds, all commissioned to celebrate Glyndebourne's 75th anniversary. Each story takes an opera (or, sometimes, more than one) as a starting point and sees where it takes it. Here is Winterson:

"Opera has always needed a story. Some inspirations are direct - like Britten's Turn of the Screw, or Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, and others, like Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, or Verdi's Rigoletto, take a story and shift it. Why not take an opera and shift it?"

And this results in some very striking stories. From the fantastical ("First Lady of Song", riffing on The Makropoulos Affair) to the serious ("Freedom", drawing on ideas of race and identity and the life of John McCormack), the slyly self-referential ("To Die For"), the elegiac ("La Fille de Mélisande") - it's a lovely collection. What they all conveyed, though, was the sheer attraction of narrative, of story, whether translated into music or not.

I like this way of writing; I even thought about writing one myself. Largely, one didn't need to know the opera to 'get' the story, though there a few that I want to seek out now.
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
I liked this book very much. The first image that Winterson evokes is that of sedimentary rock, layers upon layers of history, of stories, laid down on top of each other. And her book is like that. On one level it is simply what it says on the tin: the myth of Atlas and Heracles, of how one of them had to hold up the universe while the other did what he had to do. But there is more to it than that: there is the standard Greek mythology, yes, but there is also something that might be autobiographical (one can never quite tell with Winterson), and there is lovely physics stuff - look:

When the universe exploded like a bomb, it started ticking like a bomb too. We know our sun will die, in another hundred million years or so, then the lights will go out and there will be no light to read by any more.

'Tell me the time' you say. And what you really say is 'Tell me a story.'

Here's one I haven't been able to put down.

What pleased me most came very near the end, so I won't say what it was and spoil you - I will just say that it was very unexpected but yet perfectly logical. I loved the blending of ancient and modern ways of understanding the universe. Recommended.


stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)

June 2013

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