Date Archives March 2011

“The Pesthouse” by Jim Crace

Poor Jim Crace. Almost every review I’ve read of this book compares it to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and I’m going to do the same. I can’t help it. They’re both novels set in post-apocalyptic America with two people struggling to get to the coast, and they both came out at about the same time too. And to me, The Road was better. It was just a brilliant novel, one of the best I’ve read in years. The Pesthouse was good, but suffers from the comparison. Whereas The Road is… Read More

Books vs. nuclear submarines

I paid a visit to the excellent Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green recently. The owners put out an appeal to everyone to buy an extra book from the shop to help them survive and pay off their bank loan. So I went along, and bought a couple of books, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes and Caribou Island by David Vann. It was the first time I’d been there in ages, because I always used to go to Prospero’s Books in Crouch End… 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

“Edgelands” event at the London Review Bookshop

Went to an interesting event this evening at the London Review Bookshop: Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts reading from their new book Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness. Edgelands are those ignored, marginal spaces that are neither city nor countryside, neither completely wild nor completely controlled. Think gravel pits, drainage ditches, abandoned retail parks. Manmade, mostly, but often abandoned or divorced from their original intended meaning. I’d heard mention of the book somewhere and thought it sounded interesting, but didn’t know much about it. In fact, because both writers… Read More

“Brick Lane” by Monica Ali

Not sure what to write about this. I enjoyed the story and it was well-written, but to me nothing special. Hated the ending – don’t worry, I won’t give it away, but the last line just sounded so corny I was quite shocked. The book as a whole is not simplistic, but the ending made it seem that way. I think maybe this is one of those cases where the hype was so massive that the reality is bound to disappoint. It was an interesting depiction of a woman who… Read More

“About Canada: Animal Rights” by John Sorenson

Despite the title, this is not really a book about Canada. It is Canada-focused, but it is more of a general introduction to animal rights. That was good for me, because it’s the animal rights part that I was interested in, and I think I might have missed the “About Canada” part when requesting the book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. Anyway it is a well-written book with plenty of research and examples. It doesn’t pull any punches in describing the full horror of foie gras, factory farming, hunting, seal-clubbing,… Read More