“Wartime Women: A Mass Observation Anthology 1937-45” edited by Dorothy Sheridan [New Year’s Resolution]
I found this mildly interesting. It consists mainly of diaries but also some survey material. I particularly liked the research on married women and work from January 1944.
On the one hand:
“…going out to work is incompatible with the proper care of children. Even before the war one saw the sad result of mothers working the the factory in in a certain manufacturing village near here. The children ran about the streets wild and uncared-for with no home life.”
But on the other:
“I feel that it should always be possible – things should so be arranged that no woman should feel marriage is going to drive her into domesticity. There should be just as many openings for women as men, and just as many openings in domestic work for men as for women.”
Plus ça change..
“Just My Type” by Simon Garfield [New Year’s Resolution]
A surprisingly entertaining guide to the world of typography but in the end, the string of anecdotes becomes a little dull. On the plus side, I spend my time trying to work out fonts now. My relationship with Garamond has fundamentally changed.
“A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan
This got fantastic reviews. It’s not that good but I did find it mildly entertaining. It’s a series of interlinked stories showing the effect of time on people’s lives. It ends up in the near future which was pointless. It reminded me of a couple of American novels I’ve read recently: “Freedom” and “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”. Though both of those were more novel and less a series of short stories.
“Great Apes” by Will Self [New Year’s Resolution]
I read this book while I was ill which made its faintly hallucinogenic quality all the more disturbing. It’s the story of a man who wakes up one day and finds that the world is populated by chimps rather than humans but at a macro level, it’s all the same. So we have London’s infrastructure largely identical and famous people now famous chimps and so on. It might have worked over 200 pages but, in my view it is unsustainable over 400. In fact, I think that the author got tired of it himself and the book ends quite abruptly. Don’t know that I’d read one of his again. A bit too smart for his readers’ good.