Dovegreyreader, whose book blog has a whole community of followers, has read Marjorie Ann Watt’s Are they funny, are they dead? – ‘this remarkable collection of short stories which I have been reading slowly over the last few weeks’:
‘. . . the insensitivities of others laid bare with refreshing candour, those miscommunications, the innocent observations of children so frequently misunderstood by adults, and there's something about revenge being a dish best served cold that is meted out here too . . . Mrs Calder wickedly determined to go out in her own style despite her daughter’s best and more socially acceptable intentions . . . the deliciously and much-deserved retribution awaiting the blase and cynical psychiatrist, or the philandering husband . . . the struggles with conscience . . . the unlikely combinations of characters, the immigrant and the vagrant – all beautifully observed from that unique vantage point of age and experience; ageing seen through the eyes, with respect, of the “aged”, and then that retrospective analysis of childhood that it’s impossible to make when you are younger.’
Meanwhile, today I have been proofreading a Christmas book (I suppose), Answer Me This!, for the esteemed literary house of Faber & Faber. (Sample Q, from a page in front of me as I write: ‘Do snakes have arseholes? And if so, where?’ A: ‘First of all, Neale, you should really stop ogling snakes . . .’) The last sentence of the acknowledgements, page v: ‘Seriously, Faber, what the hell were you thinking?’ A rhetorical question. The co-authors both read English at Oxford.
While in the other half of the living room (no one thinks this is run from an office, do they?), one (of two) of my 19-year-old sons has been replacing the wheels of his second-hand bike with a yellow one and a red one, acquired off eBay.