Date Archives October 2013

Ebook vs print sales

Interesting snippet in the latest issue of The Author magazine, saying that the growth of ebook sales in the UK was slower in the first half of 2013, and the decline of printed books was not quite so precipitous, although it still fell by 4.5% in value, 4.2% in volume. It didn’t give figures for ebooks. The article is not available online, so no link I’m afraid. The piece added: There are signs that the ebook market may be slowing, and Nielsen BookScan has warned that it will be a… Read More

Literature and War Readalong: Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman

I’m reviewing this book as part of the Literature and War Readalong hosted by Caroline of the excellent book blog Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. The first thing to say about this book is that it is unfinished. The second thing to say about it is that it’s brilliant. Which leads me, of course, to the third thing: How good would this book have been if Grossman had finished it? Let’s start with the good things. Vasily Grossman brilliantly depicts the horror of Stalinist Russia side by side with the… Read More

Choices and consequences: Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall

This beautiful tale of love and survival in the Holocaust had me hooked from the very first line: She buys shoelaces for a pair of men’s shoes – such a trivial purchase. The last four words suggest, of course, that it will prove to be anything but trivial, and this proves to be the case as Izolda meets her husband Shayek while stopping at her friend’s house to thread the new laces. It starts a pattern which continues throughout the book, of apparently trivial decisions having major consequences. The trouble is,… Read More

Untangling Untangling the Web by Aleks Krotoski

Untangling the Web is a timely and detailed account of how the internet is changing us, and what we can do about it. The book makes very good points about the different identities we have online, and also about the way things are changing as the anonymity of the early days of the web gets eroded, and past identities become harder to erase. It’s great on the privacy implications of the web, how much people share online and how much other information can easily be discovered. And there’s also a good… Read More

Reviewer and reviewed

I’ve got a bit behind with my  reviewing on this site, but had a book review published today in online literary magazine Review 31. I wrote about a new book on urban explorers called Explore Everything: Place Hacking the City by Bradley L. Garrett (Verso Books). Here’s a quick extract from my article: At first glance, ‘place hacking’ may seem like just another form of escapist thrill-seeking. Sneak into a construction site, poke around inside Battersea Power Station, run along train tracks to discover abandoned Underground stations. Dodge the security guards… Read More

Tyranny and liberation: Birgit Vanderbeke’s The Mussel Feast

There’s a reason why oppressive societies have images of their leader on every wall and statues in every town square. For the tyrant to maintain power, he must be everywhere, or at least give that appearance. In this gripping portrait of a dysfunctional family, it’s only when the father returns home late from work one night that his absolute rule over his wife and children begins to slip. Freed of the need to perform and appease, the three of them begin to make startling admissions: the children both fantasise about… Read More