Have you heard about Muriel Spark Reading Week? Co-hosted by Simon and Harriet, it begins Monday, and promises to be a fun week commemorating this prolific author, who died in 2006 at the age of 88. Thomas designed this very nice badge, too:
I’ve read only one book by Spark, her classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This seems as good a time as any to remedy that situation. I chose her novel, Loitering with Intent, which sounded like a fun read. Here’s the blurb:
“How wonderful to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century,” Fleur Talbot rejoices. Happily loitering about London, c. 1949, with intent to gather material for her writing, Fleur finds a job “on the grubby edge of the literary world,” as secretary to the peculiar Autobiographical Association. Mad egomaniacs, hilariously writing their memoirs in advance—or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? Rich material, in any case. But when its pompous director, Sir Quentin Oliver, steals the manuscript of Fleur’s new novel, fiction begins to appropriate life. The association’s members begin to act out scenes exactly as Fleur herself has already written them in her missing manuscript. And as they meet darkly funny, pre-visioned fates, where does art start or reality end? “A delicious conundrum,” The New Statesman called Loitering with Intent.
This book also made the Booker Prize shortlist in 1981, so it will count towards this year’s Complete Booker reading as well (I just love checking things off lists, don’t you?)
I started Loitering with Intent on Friday, a bit early because I had just reached a good stopping point in my other read, Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement. This is a collection of three novellas (there are twelve in the complete series). I’ve read the first novella, and will dive right back into it after finishing Spark. I’ve so enjoyed Dance; I’ll be sad to leave its rich cast of characters behind. But more on that later …
Are you reading Muriel Spark this week?