Monday, 1 July 2013

Somewhere in Time...

It was struggling to be summer this weekend in the North West, but we got into the car and went looking for sunny days. We finished up with fish and chips in Southport, and looking out at the sea. We parked on the sand at the exact moment Martha and Muffins started playing 'Echo Beach' on the car stereo.

My reading has been all about time travel, in one way or another... I read the novel by Richard Matheson that his movie, 'Somewhere in Time' was based on. 'Bid Time Return' was its original title, and it's interesting to rewatch the film and see how he actually improved the story and shaped it up. Both incarnations are still wonderful. I remember being very caught up in this story when I was in my teens. Maybe that's a time when we most feel that horribly, wonderfully, aching, all-consuming nostalgia that fuels this novel? Or this particular kind of nostalgia, perhaps - the kind that's for a time you never actually lived in?

Rereading and rewatching made me realise that Woody Allen kind-of glossed Matheson's tale with his marvellous 'Midnight in Paris' in recent years...  and that tied in nicely with my next read - which completely took over my imaginative landscape this weekend - Paula McLain's 'The Paris Wife.' This tells the sorry and brilliant story of Hemingway in Paris from the point of view of his first (rather put-upon) wife, Hadley. This is the world Woody Allen's hero feels desperate to get back to - but in McLain's novel there's no such misty-eyed, glowing fondness. Hadley's Paris is all hangovers, freezing flats, vomiting hookers and whooping cough. It is still, though, impossibly glamorous - and it's all a tad more fancy-seeming than it was in Humphrey Carpenter's very funny and de-mythologising 'Geniuses Together', which I read earlier this year.

Definitely recommend 'The Paris Wife' - it's one of those immersive books. Even if you have little or no patience with the idiotic bravado and selfishness of Hemingway - it's still a fantastic world to be in. The in-book joke, of course, is that the narrator, Hadley, makes such a wonderful job of telling her own tale - in lovely, vivid, supple prose and manages it after all the hoo-ha is over and Hemingway has shot himself in the head. There's a lovely irony in that - in that she quietly sets about doing justice to her story, after he's edited her out of his own noisy account.

What's next? I've got so many books stacked up at the moment - I'm not sure how I've managed that. How is your summer reading going..?

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