Christmas music ranks high up on my list to crank up the jolly year-end spirits, as much as I find the same old ‘Santa Baby,’ ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘All I want for Christmas’ songs looping on the airwave getting on my nerves.
While listening to these Christmas jingles, I love to have a festive-themed book on hand while sipping on a huge mug of coffee. Right now, I am indulging in Agatha Christie’s ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas,’ which is a pretty grisly and bloody read in contrast to the cheery overall mood.
“Christmastime,” he said. “Peace, goodwill – and all that kind of thing. Goodwill all round.”
Hercule Poirot leaned back in his chair. He joined his fingertips. He studied his host thoughtfully.
He murmured: “It is, then, your opinion that Christmastime is an unlikely season for crime?”
And a murder did happen to the frail old patriarch of a rich family on Christmas Eve after he insisted on gathering his fragmented family together for the merry season. It is upon meeting their relatives, whom they have not met in the past decade, did cracks in their relationships show as old grudges and wounds were brought up.
Hercule Poirot also expressed his skepticism at such festivities:
“There is at Christmastime a great deal of hypocrisy, honourable hypocrisy, hypocrisy undertaken pour le bon motif, c’est entendu, but nonetheless hypocrisy!”
Just to clear the air that I am not trying to be a scrooge in my choice of this novel but I love reading detective/mystery novels, particularly by Agatha Christie, which rarely are bloodless. Moreover, adding a little thrill to the overflowing can of joyfulness add that little interesting kick for me.
I have also been catching up with Zadie Smith’s NW, a novel rated by The New York Times as its top ten books of 2012. I have been reading it on and off for a good half of December because it is such a difficult book to get through. NW is a postmodern novel embodying its distinct characteristics of challenging the traditional narrative and how we usually read with sentences, phrases and punctuation marks that are disjointed and out of place.
– Madam, there’s another pharmacy at the station, are you sure it wasn’t that one?
– Yes I’m sure. Hanwell, Leah. Can you look again?
A queue forms behind her. They are trying to decide if she is crazy. Sectioning is a common procedure in NW and it is not always the people you’d think. The Indian woman in the white coat behind the counter flicks once more through her box of yellow envelopes.
– Ah – Hanwell. It is not H. It’s been put in the wrong place, you see. I’m so sorry, madam.
She is not crazy. Photographs. Easy to forget about real photographs, their gloss and pleasure. But the first is entirely black, and so is the second; the third shows only a red aura, like a torch held beneath a sheet.
As such, the act of reading and processing the information becomes much slower, resulting in much frustration amongst readers, as reflected in the negative reviews on Amazon. But as an ode to a difficult neighbourhood in London, I do appreciate the use of such messy style and form, which in turn complement the purpose of the story.
I will try to press on and polish up the novel by the end of the month to hopefully put together a review next year.
After sharing the books that I am reading this festive season, what are your festive reads? Tell me about your recommendations below in the comment box!