On Wednesday I was lucky enough to find myself at the National Theatre, in the stalls, 6 rows from the front (instead of my usual bird’s eye view from the back of the balcony) for the production of one of my favourite books of the last 10 years, My Brilliant Friend. Marvellously performed and brilliantly staged, it did, however, just reaffirm my view that writing a play for stage or screen is a very different art than writing a book. Transference usually means the loss of the interiority inherent in a novel relying as plays and films do on the visual and aural – all bones and no flesh! There are happy exceptions: Clueless; Lord of the Rings (over 10 hours and yet too short); Sense and Sensibility; but generally I treat news of another book adaptation as I would the coronavirus!
But you, dear readers, may feel differently so let me know…
I think February is my worst month and this one seems greyer and more dismal than ever but some good books have saved me:
- Weather, Jenny Offill – Her first book was good but this is even better capturing the sense of climactic and political unease that we are all feeling but also very funny.
- Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Cho Nam-Joo – A powerful best-seller in South Korea, this fictional account of a young woman’s life hampered by society’s endemic misogyny and discrimination.
- Trust Exercise, Susan Choi – A fascinating novel about memory, obsession and the legacy of events of teenage years.
- Rules for Perfect Murders, Peter Swanson – Not published until next week but so far a very enjoyable thriller set around a second-hand bookshop, the murders copied from masters of crime fiction such as Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt.