Posts tagged review

The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

How do you tell the story of a remote injustice to a jaded world? You could make a documentary, or interview the survivors and write a 15,000-word magazine exposé. You could petition the authorities to commission an official enquiry, and wait a decade or two for the results. Hamid Ismailov chose to write a lyrical literary fairytale about a boy who swam in a forbidden lake and never grew up. The injustice in question is the detonation of 468 nuclear bombs in four decades of testing at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear… Read More

The Rag

I like literary magazines. I read a lot of them, although I don’t review them on here too often. I just read a new one called The Rag (well it’s new to me, but this is Issue 5 so I assume it’s been around for at least a year or two). I like reading literary magazines because of the variety of stories and styles you tend to get, especially with newer ones. Sometimes with the more established magazines you can start to recognize a certain type of story that they… Read More

First unsolicited review

With the official launch of A Virtual Love still a couple of weeks away, it was nice to go on Amazon the other day and see the first ‘surprise’ review, by which I mean one written by someone who just bought the book and decided to write about it, rather than being sent a review copy. The ebook was released a month early, with the idea of garnering a few advance reviews like this one before the paperback comes out on 1st April and I start doing publicity events, etc…. Read More

The Sense of an Ending, explained

First, some background: last year I wrote a review of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I had a lot of comments from people who didn’t understand the ending, and since then I’ve been inundated with people searching for things like “Sense of an Ending explained”. I felt bad, because my original review didn’t really answer that question. So this post directly addresses the ending of the book and attempts to clear up any confusion. If you haven’t read the book and don’t want to know the end,… Read More

German Literature Month readalong, Effi Briest – part 3

So it’s week 3 of German Literature Month, organised by Lizzie and Caroline. We’re reading Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane. Why do you think Effi kept Crampas’s letters? I found it a little implausible at the time, because it was such a huge risk for her to take, and she must have known what the consequences would be if Innstetten found them. But I can see that the affair meant a lot to Effi, even though I don’t think she had very deep feelings for Crampas himself. Innstetten is emotionally… Read More

“Social Ecology and Communalism” by Murray Bookchin

This book is a good, short introduction to the ideas of Murray Bookchin. He draws on anarchist and socialist thought to come up with a model of social organisation that will be more fair not only to humans but also to the planet. Bookchin’s thesis is that capitalism has reached crisis point, both socially and ecologically, and new modes of thought are needed to create a better society in which to live. He derides environmentalists who focus only on conservation or protecting nature in isolation, without addressing social issues. To… Read More

New review for On the Holloway Road

On the Holloway Road picked up a good review from Emma over at Book Around the Corner yesterday. I don’t normally tell you about every review, but I wanted to highlight this one particularly because of a beautiful description of my main characters, Jack and Neil. Emma compares them to Sal and Dean in Kerouac’s On the Road, who she calls “day butterflies, the colorful ones who fly playfully from one flower to another under a sunny sky.” On the other hand: I saw Jack and Neil as night butterflies…. Read More

“Book of Clouds” by Chloe Aridjis

A very quiet, meditative book about a Mexican woman adrift in Berlin. Tatiana is alienated from her family and her friends, cut off from the rest of the city, uninterested in forming a relationship with anyone. She gets a part-time job doing transcription work for a historian, goes on a few lacklustre dates with a fairly nondescript meteorologist, becomes slightly obsessed with a mentally ill woman, avoids her neighbours, develops insomnia. The book meanders along like this for most of the 200 pages, as aimless as the passage of a… Read More

“Long Time, No See” by Dermot Healy

Have you ever read a book all the way through and felt that you missed something really big? You get that unsettling feeling that perhaps the whole thing is one big allegory that you failed to get. Or maybe you were daydreaming through the crucial paragraph that knits the whole book together. That’s the feeling I had after reading Long Time, No See. The quality of the writing was excellent throughout, and Dermot Healy spent 11 years writing this book, so I’m sure he had something important to say. But… Read More