Welcome to another of my best bookshop finds! My eyes almost skated completely over the muted cover and if it hadn’t been for the “signed by the author” sticker I may well not have noticed it at all.
I’m now very excited though because I thought “HHhH” was extremely clever, providing a very different and thought-provoking take on the historical novel. If you haven’t read it, it takes the true story of the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich during the Second World War as its subject, but uses the telling of the story to ask the reader some pertinent questions about honesty, memory and writers’ integrity. Several times during the book, the author breaks the fourth wall to turn to his readers and ask, how do you know whether my retelling of events is true? How do you know when someone, who seems to speak with absolute confidence and authority, is actually inventing things? It made me look not just at historical novels but “factual” history in a new way – so many written accounts of or commentaries on events from the past are based on the author’s interpretation of facts rather than indisputable facts, and are subject to his or her own subconscious or even conscious prejudices.
“The 7th Function of Language” sounds like another ingenious use of history for fictional ends. It purports that the death of Roland Barthes after he is hit by a van (which really happened) was not in fact an accident but an assassination. According to the reviews, it then becomes something of a political spy thriller featuring real figures from the French establishment – but perhaps not quite as we know them.
Another day, another bookshop spot then – but the trouble is, so many of the books I want to buy at the moment are hardbacks! To be fair, I have more than enough paperbacks to be going on with so I should try and curb my book-buying enthusiasm as at this rate I fear my bank balance isn’t going to keep pace with the amount of great hardbacks being released. In fact, I KNOW it isn’t, so restraint is going to have to be called for and waiting for the paperback looks like the order of the day…