[BOOKS] ⚦ Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time By Penelope Lively – E-inbusiness.co.uk

I learned Penelope Lively s three favourite novels are What Daisy Knew by Henry James, The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford and The Inheritors by William Golding I d like to say I learned lots of interest from Lively but I m afraid I didn t I was often rather bored by her musings in this book of rather disconnected essays I d describe this as a pastime rather than any kind of inspired performance Overall it came across as a writer writing for I began on a spring morning in the Anglo American Hospital in Zamalek, which was a residential suburb on Gezira, the island in Cairo s Nile 17 March 1933 Elsewhere, things were going on that would lead to turmoil in North Africa in a few years time my parents lives would be affected, and mine, but they were comfortably oblivious that morning, and I was tucked up in a crib, the feet of which stood in tin trays of water, because there had been instances of ants getting at newborn babies.Towards the end of my own stint I find myself thinking less about what has happened to me but interested in this lifetime context, in the times of my life I have the great sustaining ballast of memory we all do, and hope to hang on to it I am interested in the way that memory works, in what we do with it, and what it does with us And when I look around my cluttered cluttered house ballast, material ballast I can see myself oddly identified and defined by what is in it my life charted out on the bookshelves, my concerns illuminated by a range of objects.I have no idea why, but Penelope Lively s book seems to go by various titles Another one seems to be Ammonites and Leaping Fish A Life in Time, which is a bit confusing when you re trying to find t After reading Dancing Fish and Amonites I feel like I ve been on a retreat for a few days with an especially erudite friend talking the days away while taking a ramble on this or that trail, enjoying cups of tea and perhaps a glass of wine or two by the fire as we share our histories and thoughts on life There is an intimacy as well as the intelligence of an ever questing mind that makes this book irresistible to me.Lively has written memoirs before, but this is her view from old age , written when she was eighty She has divided the book into lengthy sections each exploring an aspect of old age Old Age is the first, longest, and I think me favorite but ask me tomorrow and I may say Memory or Life and Times are my favorite I think I ve already read the book at least one and a half timesit is heavily annotated by me after all, I was engaged in a dynamic conversation Naturally as a highly literate historian as well as author, the book abounds in quotes and references She had the long view and reminds us how as recently as 1960 there we The subtitle of this book is A Memoir But it is not a memoir in the traditional sense of covering a person s life chronologically In fact, the author says in this book that she has no interest in writing that kind of memoir.Rather it is a book of musings and reminiscences about her life, largely concerned with getting old she was 80 when she wrote this book in 2013 I will be 63 in March so I have to say it was very encouraging to find out that, despite her age and a few health issues, she still very much enjoys herself.A substantial amount of the book is taken up by her love of reading and the authors that she loved when she was younger and those that she enjoys now Again, I was happy to find out that her passion A Memoir That Addresses Ageing, Memory, Time And A Life In The 20th Century, By One Of Our Greatest Writers, Penelope Lively This Is Not Quite A Memoir Rather, It Is The View From Old Age And A View Of Old Age Itself, This Place At Which We Arrive With A Certain Surprise Ambushed, Or So It Can Seem One Of The Few Advantages Of Age Is That You Can Report On It With A Certain Authority You Are A Native Now, And Know What Goes On Here In This Charming But Powerful Memoir, Penelope Lively Reports From Beyond The Horizon Of Old Age She Describes What Old Age Feels Like For Those Who Have Arrived There And Considers The Implications Of This New Demographic She Looks At The Context Of A Life And Times, The History And Archaeology That Is Actually Being Made As We Live Out Our Lives In Real Time, In Her Case World War II Post War Penny Pinching Britain The Suez Crisis The Cold War And Up To The Present Day She Examines The Tricks And Truths Of Memory She Looks Back Over A Lifetime Of Reading And Writing And Finally She Looks At Her Identifying Cargo Of Possessions Two Ammonites, A Cat, A Pair Of American Ducks And A Leaping Fish Sherd, Amongst Others This Is An Elegant, Moving And Deeply Enjoyable Memoir By One Of Our Most Loved Writers. I wondered if I was a fraud of some sort for wanting to read the memoir of a writer for whom I actually haven t read any of her books I ve hovered around her, intrigued by her novels when I worked with them in the bookstore, but failed until now to actually commit to one.But I m glad to have read her memoir before exploring her backlist Although, as she says, This is not quite a memoir Rather, it is the view from old age Although the structure feels just a bit cobbled together, I mean this in only the most positive way The sections in my ARC provided by Penguin Viking are labeled Old Age, Life and Times, Memory, Reading and Writing, Six Things In each section, she skillfully blends social history with her own history and her involvement in and feelings about the events Old Age, for example, includes her very personal perspectives about both the positive and negative effects of aging, and also the broader context of Britain s and the world s aging populations, and how elderly people have been viewed through time by different cultures I loved her insights into how the elderly are often perceived by the younger generations, saying that while it s easy for an older person to get caught in the loop of commiserating on their own lives and stories, the reality is that they are still here with This was a memoir I had to read for many reasons Lively has long been one of my favorite novelists, a Booker Prize winner although her Booker Prize winner, Moon Tiger, is very good, it is by no means my favorite of her work , the female author I ve read of than any other over a lifetime of reading Indeed, I fondly remember in the 1980 s and early 1990 s buying her earlier works in London bookstores Foyle s remember Foyle s, wowor Blackwell in Oxford or before all of her work became so widely available here in the U.S I always adored her sparse but effective prose, her observant eye, her window into the human experience, her consistency.And now, having passed into her ninth decade, she looks back Granted, this is a very different vehicle than her prior, highly stylized childhood retrospective, Oleander, Jacaranda Was her life so unique that it merited two memoirs Why not First, the two memoirs are very different, indeed.More importantly, what a life Raised in Egypt, displaced and exiled to the UK by WWII, and a relatively circuitous path to being a highly prolific, respected novelist From observing Charles de Gaulle in his dressing gown as a child to becoming Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire which, of course, doesn t even merit mention in this memoir , it s an extraordinary life Granted, in A beautiful memoir of aging, reading, writing, family, history Penelope Lively sat down to write about the things that have been most important to her She was 80 at the time of writing, and although her body is breaking down and often painful, her mind is as sharp as ever, and as she says memory is the mind s triumph over time She has the same wish as me in her time remaining that her eyes continue to serve her, because losing the ability to read would be the worst tragedy she can imagine.I really enjoyed Years ago Penelope Lively surprised me with Moon Tiger, a fine autobiographical exploration of the past by a rather eccentric and unreliable female narrator It seemed to me that Lively had made it her trademark in literature to explore the vigour and reality of the past, because the theme is also dealt with in other books of her This booklet she wrote at the age of 80, in her own modest style, not as a memoir but as a view from old day She muses about the passing of time faster as you get older , the inconveniences and challenges of aging, but also the benefits of becoming slightly invisible , and especially the blessing of memory, as an instrument for travelling through the past But above all she opens a perspective on old age as a kind of liberating phase in life I think there is a sea change, in old age a metamorphosis of the sensibilities With those old consuming vigours now muted, something else comes into its own an almost luxurious appreciation of the world that your are still in Spring was never so vibrant, autumn never so richly gold. Lively recalls personal memories, quite jumpy and random she dwells for a long time on the bliss of reading it frees me from the closet of my own mind Reading fiction, I see through the prism of another person s understanding reading everything else, I am travellingand brings a nice ode to books Maybe Live More musing than memoir, Penelope Lively writes of aging, memory, reading and the role of history in our lives Since these are all topics that fascinate me, and because I ve recently come to enjoy her fiction writing, I was enchanted and charmed by these essays.I cannot claim Lively as a contemporary as I am neither 80 nor English, but I do believe she d be the kind of friend I like I share some of her sensibilities and so I read this all the Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time


About the Author: Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger.Her other books include Going Back Judgement Day Nex


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