In need of some light-hearted fare lately, I re-read Elinor Lipman’s mainstream comic novel Isabel’s Bed (1998), which I’ve enjoyed the best of the eight works of hers I’ve downed to date, despite an ending that jarred a bit: I was expecting the protagonist to work up her inadvertently funny autobiographical fragment into a short story as well as (spoiler alert!) open a bagel shop. I missed Lipman’s The Pursuit of Alice Thrift (2003) and My Latest Grievance (2007) and don’t know if I’ll order them. Next on my reading list is her 2013 novel The View from Penthouse B; I’m almost through her collection I Can’t Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays (also 2013).
What spurred me in search of lighter fare was that I’ve been finding Iain M. Banks’ Culture SF series to be much less “rollicking” than some poor fool had praised them as, and was especially disturbed by the amount of casual animal cruelty I was encountering. (Anarchist societies run by sentient machines care nothing for the rights and suffering of lesser beings, it seems.) However, I’ve bought all 10 volumes in the series and expect to continue them when my mood allows. So far, I’ve consumed Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons and The State of the Art (a collection which contains an important novella that concerns Earth’s place in the galaxy-wide Culture civilization).