You don’t have to care about the future of news or the machinations of election-year politics to enjoy “Gathering String’ by Mimi Johnson. But if you...moreYou don’t have to care about the future of news or the machinations of election-year politics to enjoy “Gathering String’ by Mimi Johnson. But if you happen to be a news or politics junkie, you’ll take special delight in this gripping tale of love, adventure and one big secret that, if uncovered, could change the fate of the Presidential election. It’s Republican primary season and popular Iowa Governor “Swede” Erickson is a last-minute entrant into the race. Ace newspaper reporter Sam Waterman—now at the Politifix website—is assigned to cover Erickson and he’s itching to see behind the too-perfect façade: “Nothing’s better than finding the… skeleton… in a candidate’s closet,” he says early on, adding: “News is telling people what they need to know, but don’t.” But heading to Iowa means running into Sam’s ex-love Tess Benedict. Tess is a former news photographer whose earlier passionate relationship with Sam is recounted in an engaging and at times highly dramatic flashback. She’s now married to local newspaper editor and publisher Jack Westphal—a man with a close personal connection to Swede Erickson. Johnson has a lot of fun with the political backdrop—the “Minutemen” Party is a big influence in this fictional election season, as is a Sarah Palin-esque potential VP candidate—and Johnson also weaves in great details about the challenges facing the news business at companies large and small, online and off. But ultimately this is the story of Sam, Tess and Jack—and Swede—and as the stakes are raised and loyalties are challenged, this exciting tale builds to a powerful and satisfying conclusion.(less)
With a surefire premise and a crisp, cool writing style Dwight Okita's THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL makes for enthralling reading. Turning the "why brin...moreWith a surefire premise and a crisp, cool writing style Dwight Okita's THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL makes for enthralling reading. Turning the "why bring a child into this world?" question on its head, Okita asks instead "why in the world would a child want to be born here?" Using new Cyber Savant technology, Prospect is a Pre-Born given the chance to get a glimpse of his future existence by venturing out into the world even while he remains an embryo in the womb. Of course, Prospect is only partially prepared to evaluate the evidence he is allowed to gather, and the quality of experience is defined by the motives and limitations of the people he meets, including scientist Trish Mesmer, corporate execs at Big Farm pharmaceuticals, and "Referrals" such as Prospect's own mother, the troubled teen Lito and the malevolent Trevor Grueling. The science fiction elements and the innocent voice of Prospect make this a book likely to appeal to anyone who enjoyed Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go." In an early scene, Prospect is told he lacks "the wisdom and maturity" to make such the momentous decision he is being challenged to make. But who does possess that wisdom and maturity? Should Prospect accept the advice he's offered or trust his own instincts? Okita's novel is a literary page-turner filled with provocative scientific and philosophical questions that build to a surprising but satisfying conclusion.(less)
I saw IN OFFICE HOURS being heavily advertised on the Tube during a recent trip to London and, being the author of an office-based, relationship-focus...moreI saw IN OFFICE HOURS being heavily advertised on the Tube during a recent trip to London and, being the author of an office-based, relationship-focused novel myself, felt compelled to pick it up. Based on the (British paperback) cover design, I expected it might be something of a chick-lit romp in which the topic--marital infidelity--was dealt with lightly, played for laughs, and/or presented as something easily forgiven either by the characters involved or, at least by the reader who is privy to the "whole story" about why the characters do what they do.
Yes, there's plenty of romping. But it's certainly not lightweight. In fact, it's easy to see why this novel might divide people. Especially those who come to it with the wrong kind of expectations, or simply don't know what to expect.
So what is IN OFFICE HOURS--and should you read it?
From a plot perspective, it's a relatively straightforward telling of two mirror-image affairs between high-level executives and younger employees at the same energy company. In one case the boss-figure is a man, in the other a woman (and vice versa). The tale is told from the perspectives of the two female characters: Bella, a working single mum, and Stella, a fast-track executive playing an increasingly visible role in a highly scrutinized industry.
Yes, you should definitely read it. BUT ONLY if you want to get up a close up view of the way rationalizations give way to madness, and lies turn into mayhem for characters who are blinded by passion and willing to put careers and family lives at stake in the process
FT columnist Lucy Kellaway traces the course of these two illicit, emotional-rollercoaster relationships with reporter-like precision. It's not a novel for those looking for hearts and flowers. But a great read for those who can stomach cruelty and thorns.(less)
Like a needle plunging into a vein, THE CARPET KING OF TEXAS sinks readers immediately into a world of drugs, depravity and desperation. This is not a...moreLike a needle plunging into a vein, THE CARPET KING OF TEXAS sinks readers immediately into a world of drugs, depravity and desperation. This is not a novel for the faint of heart--but it is a compelling tale told by a former tabloid journalist in which four unique and unforgettable characters are brought to life in vivid, eye-opening and sometimes stomach-churning detail.
Paul Kennedy's memorable debut novel reveals a side of UK society many people would prefer not to acknowledge, and asks compelling questions about a society in which the path to addiction and sexual deviancy is sometimes a conscious personal choice, sometimes a direction into which one is unwittingly steered, and, saddest of all, sometimes no choice at all.