I finished Eileen a little while ago and mulled over what to say. Short listed for the Man Booker Prize 2016, it’s a story about a girl trapped in a dreary life, caring for her alcoholic father at night and working as a secretary in a dead end job in a boys’ prison during the day. She dreams of breaking free and after meeting the beautiful and smart, Rebecca, is pulled unwittingly into a crime with unexpected consequences.
Eileen is not a girl you can like nor is she a girl with too many redeeming qualities. But she is a girl, who at certain times in our own lives, reflects a tiny, teeny bit of ourselves. She has the maturity of a child in the body of a woman, full of uncertainty, yet so seemingly self-aware of every one of her flaws, and there are many. The story drags at times and much of her thoughts and inadequacies become repetitive, so much so, that even if I wanted to like her, her character allows no-one to feel pity.
I admire the author’s ability to get deep inside the head of this character. Except for the contrasting Rebecca, grotesque glimpses of other characters are a mere sideshow to Eileen and her obsession with self. We’re left wondering about Rebecca and whether Eileen in her final act was ever truly empathetic for anyone else. I think not.
Overall, a challenging read but I’m glad I persevered. Did I like it? I can’t say I did, but then everything we read shouldn’t be about entertainment. It took me out of my middle class comfort zone that’s for sure. Well done to the author.
The other day someone asked, “How do you take your books?” “With a cup of tea or a gin and tonic depending on the time of the day,” I replied with a grin. But it got me thinking.
With bulging bookcases and little space, some years ago, I began reading my books electronically saving space and weight particularly when on holiday or travelling. Reading on my iPad meant I didn’t have to search for the best lighting – I could just take it with me. Simple and easy. The cost of electronic books was also very affordable which meant I could buy more. With so many advantages to reading on a device, why don’t more people buy and read their books that way?
Perhaps it was a fad but I find myself now reverting back to the good old paperback. I like to hold it and flip the pages back and forwards. To read the blurb on the back cover, inside cover, to look at the artwork. Sure I can do that electronically, but I like the feel of it in my hands. Sometimes I just don’t want to look at another screen.
I like to read in bed – a paperback doesn’t hurt as much as a dropped iPad on the face. Yes, that has happened to me. I bought a new book shelf and I actually love to look at my books – I don’t get that same feeling with the books on my device. Sometimes, I scan the shelf, pick a book I’ve already read, open it anywhere and start reading. I’m also fussy when I buy a paperback not just because it’s more expensive but it has to earn its place on the tight real estate space of my book shelf.
I haven’t totally given up electronic books- I still get them occasionally. Now I’m thinking about audio books. I can listen while I’m out walking or driving and I like that idea.
Thinking about that question again, I’d say, I take my books in a variety of forms but I prefer the paperback.
Twelve months ago I launched my debut novel, ‘Climbing the Coconut Tree.’ Three years ago I commenced my writing journey, made a heap of mistakes and learnt a lot along the way. How time flies.
So how’s it been going?
Here’s my report card on Climbing the Coconut Tree-:
It received 23 reviews across various sites.
It’s available to buy across UK, Europe, USA, Australia and NZ in print format and across more than 70 worldwide digital platforms including Amazon, Kobo and Apple.
E-book sales are 12.6% of my total sales.
It’s available in seven libraries and two independent book stores in Melbourne.
Three book groups have included it on their list.
It’s travelled the length and breadth of Australia, across the Pacific to the US and Europe in the hands of multiple readers, many of whom have embraced the beach lifestyle and drink of choice, gin and tonic.
My collection of short stories, ‘Out of Nowhere’ is completed and once the cover is finalised will be released shortly.
A short story, On the Side of a Hill was recently published in the Monash Writers Anthology. Another called, ‘The Surprise’ was short listed in the Lane Cove Literary Awards in 2016. Both stories will be available in my collection.
I’m also working on another historical novel called, ‘The Perfect Stone’ set during the Greek Civil War in 1948. Hopefully it will be out in 2018.
Introducing Ruggs who enjoys reading, singing, lolling on the couch in front of the heater or sunbathing. She loves a tipple of iced water with a meal of Whiskers after a stroll in the garden. She still retains a sprightly figure at the ripe old age of 17 and knows what she likes. Apparently she likes my book.