Another lean month. July is the end of the spring semester at Japanese unis so I spent a lot of the month reading essays and creative non-fiction (spring is travel writing in my creative writing class) pieces and trying to avoid endlessly boring conversations about ChatGPT and AI (the topics aren’t boring, just the people who most want to talk about them. It’s the new crypto). It also meant an impending deadline for an academic paper on Scottish literature I’d promised a journal and for which I had to do a lot of reading. Sadly none of the reading was the actual literature—I’d already read the books I am writing about—but rather other academic papers. One joy however was this book about Iain M Banks by Paul Kincaid. It’s somewhere between a potted biography and an academic overview of his entire output, and very well written. I really only needed it for one passage, Kincaid’s definition of “the Scottish fantastic”, but I quite happily sat and read it cover to cover one weekend. There were a great deal of biographical details I didn’t know, and a number of thematic connections across Banks’s novels that I hadn’t noticed or hadn’t formalised into coherent thought. The main joy however was just being reminded of the breadth of Banks’s output and the sheer pleasure his stories and storytelling gave me as a teenager. I met his a couple of times at launches and he was the model of a public writer for me: friendly, open, a fellow enthusiast, a writer who never forgot he was also a reader, but one aware that he had a stage and a microphone and used it to say important things and try to make the world a better place. When I get a chance I’m going to go back through and reintroduce myself to his books, some of which I haven’t read since they were first published.
I wasn’t crazy about Greek lessons and I’m also making my way through nights of plague!!
Another tome that I’m making my way through is to Paradise by Yanagihara