“The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

But not utterly exaggerated …

Yes I have been absent on more dramatic terms this time. Two hospital interludes: the second one planned, the first an impromptu response to something (virus? bacterium? body attacking itself out of sheer boredom?) that left me so weak I was almost unable to walk.

What fun. Not.

Convalescence is not much fun either. I wish I was the lounging around in elegant pyjamas and looking interestingly languid type, but I’m the grumpy, creased, intolerant and shuffling type instead. And I currently have the attention span of an ill-tempered gnat.

That means that my book pile has been whatever it is when you reject nine out of ten—not decimated which means rejecting (or actually, killing) one out of ten and it drives me mad when people use it to mean more than that—in three days. I’ve just chucked out any novel that didn’t grip me halfway through the first chapter and most didn’t. It would be invidious to name them, I’m sure you all have your own list of ‘writers who have disappointed’. What has made it through the winnowing so far: The Corrections and The Girl Who Played With Fire – nice substantial books with nice substantial themes too. My review pile is looking denuded too: I had to email one publisher and say that, kind as it was of them to send me a novel to review, I wasn’t going to be able to recommend it to my readers. No reply. Still on the pile are two books that interest me but that I haven’t got around to reading yet: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger and Hashish, Wine, Opium by Baudelaire and Gautier.

The latter is attractive to me for an odd reason. When I first moved to France, as a non-French speaker, I found exactly two books on the shelves of the place we were staying: Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger in French translation and Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. I tried both, French dictionary in hand, and found the Baudelaire more palatable than the Fleming … so my first foray into French literature in its native tongue was hand in hand with one of France’s more disreputable sons. Thus are associations formed and it is a fact that I have never been able to finish a James Bond novel in either language …

Hospital bed courtesy of A. www.viajar24h.com at Flickr under a creative commons licence

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