It was so stifling in the office the other day that I had to go out and walk for a while during my lunch break. I decided to go to a second-hand book shop; there was enough time to get there and back on the tram. The results were good: "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes, "The Lying Days" by Nadine Gordimer, and "No Night Is Too Long" by Barbara Vine.
The Vine book is one that is especially hard to find, and has not been reprinted like her other, even earlier books, so that was especially lucky. "The Lying Days" is Gordimer's first novel, and I have to confess I have not read more than one or two of her short stories. Am currently reading this and it is lovely and loose, with beautiful language. It's the kind of book I wish I had time to take to the woods and find a clearing and read it all day. I am completely convinced by the voice of the narrator.
"The Sense of an Ending" is brilliant. I read it first, in about 24 hours -- it is short for a novel, but that only makes it better: it is hard in the sense of compact, concise, every word working for the overall effect, and -- a thing that can be all too rare, I want to read it again. In fact I wanted to read it again right away, but I made myself wait and read "The Lying Days" first.
Thank goodness for second-hand shops.