Swamped by the piles of new books, and so many good ones this season [must reads: Elizabeth Gilbert and Alice McDermott] I fled for a break back to the grand dame, Iris Murdoch. Lady Iris wrote 24 novels and lots of philosophy, and I've read much but many more to go. Finally got to "Under the Net" a Booker winner and what a winner it is.
Murdoch writes literary page-turners with eccentric and eclectic characters and simple plots that often go a bit wild and often hilariously funny. However, within her deceptively simple narratives, short sentences and easy dialogue, there is buried treasure - deep sometimes dark explorations of human connections and Net is a great example.
I found myself often stopping to re-read a few pages, in fact I had to go back several times, because I was swept on the current of a fairly linear plot when I realized that between the lines was a fascinating depiction of the power of language and communication, the losses of love and friendship and trust when people make presumptions based on circumstance, and the self-deception game we all play.
Read Iris Murdoch for the fun of it and then enjoy the pondering that will surely follow.
I especially recommend "The Sea, The Sea" and "The Bell" my favorite, and the more well known, "The Black Knight." I also recommend watching the decade old film, Iris, where Judy Dench and Kate Winslet play Lady Iris old and young, a truly touching film.
Now and then, there is nothing like going back to the greats.