Zola Budd and Big Books
I am Zola Budd or an aspiring bum. Remember her, when they did get her in spikes you didn’t know if you were watching track and field or a remixed edition of Death Race 2000.
My shoes have about given up the ghost. Wafer thin would be an insult to wafers. Do wafers still exist by the way or have they been bludgeoned out of the market by those sharks at Hagaan and Daaz?
“You can’t eat peppermint bark ice-cream out of a freakin wafer!”
I noticed this most eloquently when my bike back tyre veritably exploded across the highway this morning on my way to work. A quiet fizz actually but I’m trying to induce a sense of buzz.
A two hour walk to the bike shop and back highlighted the limitations of my footwear; a bargain 2 and a half years ago in a department store in KL. They were even in my size!
Hence the Budd allusion. She was a long distance bird. Not so our current climate. Note the god-like status of that Bolt down the back straight.
Long is out. See the article in today’s Guardian. Those long books, shortlisted for this year’s Booker (oh, feel the irony!) are just not popular with the punters.
“The two longest titles by Toltz and Hensher, which both run over 700 pages, have sold the fewest copies, while the shorter books, by Adiga and Grant, have sold best.”
But like Budd I don’t mind long.
(For regular readers of this blog you will actually know I am more Billy Budd that Zola Budd. Billy Budd being Melville’s gay sailor - Melville of Moby Dick fame. I am a fan of that too. ‘Call me up sometime Ishmael’.)
Of the short-listed books I most am looking forward to the Toltz and Hensher once I’ve got a spare month in the country. As an aside Hensher writes in Devon, in a house with no mobile, tv, computer.
(But why, I thought, doesn’t he just book a allocation-on-arrival last-minute-deal with Thomas Cook which offer the same facilities? Perhaps it is the chavs in the next room arguing over the time difference between Spain and Essex - is it one hour ahead or one behind? Or is it an hour and a fucking half? They want to be in the bar downstairs in time for Eastenders.
Actually now I am pandering to popular mores. I wouldn’t know a chav if I slept with one.)
Oh for the trappings of wealth and a room of my own.
It has to be said that big books are daunting. I mean who would you go in a ring with, Slim Shady of Cassius Clay? Cassius Clay, though, is quite the guy.
I am currently reading Our Mutual Friend (700 hundred pages plus) and am hooked fifty pages in. A body is washed up in the Thames, an inheritance is lost and some funny lines in between. I particularly like this description -
“...am immense obtuse drab oblong face, like a face in a tablespoon, and a dyed Long Walk up the top of her head, as a convenient public approach to the bunch of false hair behind.”
And last year I was captivated by Don Quixote, all three hundred million pages of it. I enjoyed them each and every one.
Not that I am going to start writing long books myself. Short books apparently are easier to sell and I’m ready to pluck any advantage going.
I need that new pair of shoes.
Currently reading - Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
Currently listening to - Some People Have Real Problems, Sia