A few days ago I asked the author about what she was reading. Jess-Cooke's reply:
Stag’s Leap by Sharon OldsVisit Carolyn Jess-Cooke's website and blog.
This collection of poetry is about the end of a thirty-year marriage and recently received a number of prizes, and no wonder. I can’t stop reading it. Olds’ poems are raw and true – so much so that they can be hard to read. Michael Ondaatje described her work as ‘pure fire in the hands’, and he’s right.
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I was always intrigued by the premise of this book – a teenage shipwreck survivor crosses an ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger – but couldn’t make it through the first chapter on my first reading. A student encouraged me to read the second half, and I’m so glad I did – it is an astonishing book. Martel’s writing is so vivid that it hoisted me off my chair and plonked me on that boat with the sea wind in my hair, fish skins drying on the bow and a panting tiger nearby. Amazing.
A Mother’s Book of Secrets by Linda Eyre and Shawni Eyre Pothier
I tend to roll my eyes when I see parenting books on the shelves, particularly ones directed at mothers. Generally I find them patronizing and full of the same text-book advice. I don’t want advice, thank you – I just want to know I’m not the only mother who sometimes feels like I’m wading through lakes of quicksand. I enjoy dipping in and out of this little book, though I’m finding that the chapter titled ‘The Trenches’ tends to flip open every time I turn to it.
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
I’m just over halfway through this and will be taking it with me on holiday to Cornwall next week. I adore the character, Quoyle, and his self-conscious covering of his chin when he feels vulnerable. Wonderful, exact prose.