I've had a bit of an underwater week: first there was my paper on medieval peasant marriage fines to tune up, and then my short take on the St. William Window in York Minster to fidget over, and then my father's 50th birthday party. And so, even though I also devoured the two Orange long-listers I bought last Thursday - Harbor by Lorraine Adams and Disobedience by Naomi Alderman - I haven't had the energy to do them justice with an entry. Monday perhaps, but not just now... Instead, a confession:
I'm not known for my self-restraint. And I like lists. And I like ticking off things on lists. So, having bought *two* Orange longlisters I found myself heart-set upon some more...hence Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black and Marilynne Robinson's Gilead have both found their way out of Borders and on to my to-read pile since Monday. I tell myself I would have bought them in the end anyway... Both are hot-tipped for the short-list and the latter won last year's Pulitzer Prize.
Then I won two Ebay auctions unexpectedly (I bid on several old SF titles in a moment of essay paralysis, never expecting to win...): God's Fires by Patricia Anthony and Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart, both out of print and hung about with praise. The first came originally from another of those deadly lists, this time the canon of feminist science fiction at Feminist SFF. It hiked its way up into my attentions again when I read an old, favourable review of it by the indomitable John Clute.
By mid-day Wednesday a pristine copy of Gwyneth Jone's small press collection of fairytales, Seven Tales and a Fable, had joined the pile... Not an iota of guilt to that one; its already 10 years in print and these small press productions don't hang about indefinitely (its selling for just short of £75 on Amazon at the moment..I swooped on it for £6!) Plus its all part of supporting women genre writers in the UK, a worthy cause.
Honestly, I didn't think there would be anymore and so I blame fate for bringing a galley copy of Prep by Curtis Sittenfield and a pristine second-hand biography of George Elliot to my attention today. I admit it. I was weak. I'd just handed in my last pieces of coursework, the euphoria was still fresh...I let it carry me into several book shops. The Sittenfield brings my Orange Prize haul up to five and I've been hankering after the Eliot biography since my summer jaunt through Middlemarch.
Such is the excess brought on by bibliophilic desire and I repent it not. ;-)