If a friend had not lent this book to me, I doubt I would have persevered. In recent years, I had been on a bit of a 'book diet', ie only reading thin...moreIf a friend had not lent this book to me, I doubt I would have persevered. In recent years, I had been on a bit of a 'book diet', ie only reading thin books, and it is after reading tomes like this that I think that might not be such a bad idea. The blurb declares that one of the protagonist's teachers is found dead. Yes, but I had to plough through at least 300 pages to get there. The story did get more gripping toward the end, but I felt the denouement was a little too hasty and it reminded me of a bad Agatha Christie. Too much dross at the start of the book made the pace slow to say the least. Got fed-up reading all the references and despite being so clever, Blue uses phrases repetitively such as 'cakewalk'.
Shan't be looking out for any more of this author's work. I know it was her debut, but have read better first novels.
Have heard that Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History' is similar to this. Tartt has been on my 'To be read' list for a while. Should I bother?
Unfortunately my reading of this book was interrupted by 'Our Tragic Universe' which had been requested from the library. I zapped through the first f...moreUnfortunately my reading of this book was interrupted by 'Our Tragic Universe' which had been requested from the library. I zapped through the first forty or so pages of 'White Castle', but when I returned to it after a hiatus, I found it much more of a slog. The premise is that a Venetian scholar is taken as a slave by Turks and ends up being the companion of Hoja, his master, who entreats our scholar to teach him all he knows. The story is set in seventeenth century Constantinople. The scholar and master have an uncanny likeness to one another, and they become so entwined in their various exploits over a twenty-five year span, that their identities appear to merge.
I didn't particularly enjoy this book. It is the second Pamuk I've read, the other being 'Snow', which I similarly didn't really enjoy at the time. However, since reading it back in the winter, I have recalled 'Snow' fondly and so this was the main reason for giving this Nobel Laureate another go. The scrapes and japes that the scholar and Hoja get into reminded me of a tame version of Voltaire's 'Candide'. Without the laughs(less)
This was a particularly odd but moreish book. Normally I really hate books where 'nothing seems to happen', and this could well be described in such a...moreThis was a particularly odd but moreish book. Normally I really hate books where 'nothing seems to happen', and this could well be described in such a way. Its subtleties were clever and followed a theme in a particular direction, and there was character and plot development, so it wasn't as bad as say, 'Something Might Happen' by Julie Myerson where nothing did much happen. However, it wasn't as rollicking a read as her earlier book 'The End if Mr Y'. Still, I am happy to read 'Popco' at somepoint, so it can't be all bad.
The protagonist is a young(ish) writer, a reviewer of strange science books (similar to 'Mr Y' then), who explores various elements of 'New Age' thinking and whose life is altered as a result. I particularly enjoyed the Rosa and Beast subplots and was pleased with the way Thomas ended the book. The supporting characters of Vi, Libby, Christopher and Rowan were really well-drawn and reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book made me realise that Vi wasn't a real academic! (Yes it's fiction, but I suspended disbelief and it got the better of me. )(less)
What a difficult book to get into. It is written from the point of view of a 13 year old exchange student from a totalitarian state (undisclosed), and...moreWhat a difficult book to get into. It is written from the point of view of a 13 year old exchange student from a totalitarian state (undisclosed), and the grammar is mangled. Throughout. But, with a little perseverence, (and had it been written by anyone else, I might not have continued), one gets into the swing of the story and before you know it, there is only another hundred pages to go.
I was quite disappointed with the ending. I was expecting some more shocks. However, considering the awful 'childhood' of the protagonist, I suppose America had to win through in the end.
I was quite confused at Pygmy's gullability in some respects, like believing the toilets are spa rooms, whilst being very knowledgeable in ways to maim and detecting by smell the presence of ritalin in his foster brother. Later it becomes apparent that his schooling was limited to say the least. Reminded me in some ways of Tender in 'Survivor'.(less)
Today I finished this book. Last week I had gone out of my way to grab a copy after stumbling across a review of the author and his blog. I was intrig...moreToday I finished this book. Last week I had gone out of my way to grab a copy after stumbling across a review of the author and his blog. I was intrigued to know where in Dorset Ali Shaw came from, and a bit of digging led me to discover he was from Dorchester. Not that this impacts on his book at all.
So, the book. Two main characters: Ida and Midas. Midas Crook is the son of Midas Crook who was a hands-off father and husband who seemed to have brought much unhappiness to his family before finally committing suicide.
Ida is the daughter of a free spirit who was wooed by an academic who worked with Midas Crook senior. There is a lot of emphasis on the relationships between parents and children and the love affairs of said parents, which I did find a bit confusing now and again. A good premise for character development, but it got a bit laboured.
Loved the setting. Kept thinking it was somewhere in Scotland, and thought it was brave of Shaw to keep the geographical clues to a minimum. Loved Henry Fuwa and his landscape.
Shaw did pack a lot of story-weaving into this tale, with a few loose ends to foster the imagination. Don't know whether the book is better or worse for leaving these strands flying. Perhaps if every loose end had been tied-up, it would have been a contrite piece of work. Specifically, I wanted to know more about Fuwa and the Millionnaire/ hunting recluse; I wanted to know more about the condition itself, and the link to the environment, and why and how other people had been affected by it.
I loved the ending and Midas' development to overcome his past. Wished he hadn 't got rid of all his photos of her.
On reflection, I would look out for his second novel. (less)
Read this as part of a Stylistics course at university back in the late 1990s. Quite funny and endearing as I recall. Can't recall the Stylistic virtu...moreRead this as part of a Stylistics course at university back in the late 1990s. Quite funny and endearing as I recall. Can't recall the Stylistic virtue of it. Ho hum. (less)
I found this a slow read to start off with. It was an impulse choice from the library, and despite many reservations at the start of the reading exper...moreI found this a slow read to start off with. It was an impulse choice from the library, and despite many reservations at the start of the reading experience, I ended-up really loving the story and becoming very involved in what happened. Thinking about it last night I realised it is a modern version of 'Great Expectations'. Pleased I read it.(less)
I'd read a wee article in a newspaper about Scarlett Thomas and thought she was worth a try. The library only had 'The End of Mr Y', and I have to adm...moreI'd read a wee article in a newspaper about Scarlett Thomas and thought she was worth a try. The library only had 'The End of Mr Y', and I have to admit I devoured it. Many other reviewers seem very disappointed with the ending in particular, and the second half of the book in general. I can't say that I agree. I loved it from beginning to end.
I enjoyed the intellectual ideas, the foibles and background of the heroine, her pure relationship with Adam and the creation of the MindSpace.
Apollo Smintheus was a surprise and added a vibrant, playful element to the story. I felt so sorry for the labmice when Ariel was hopping through their consciousnesses - especially the mice who were being juggled.
A well-crafted, complex story, with interesting characters and a no-nonsense tone. Reminiscent of Pullman, in some ways, although I think End of Mr Y is more like a grown-up version of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. (Although that might just be because I was listening to a radio progamme about Neanderthals recently!) (less)
Reminiscent of Hardy and Lawrence, but without the hearfelt empathy that these writers exhibit in their work. At least something happened in the book,...moreReminiscent of Hardy and Lawrence, but without the hearfelt empathy that these writers exhibit in their work. At least something happened in the book, and it was rather well-written. For a more fulfilling read about a public works scheme, I thoroughly recommend 'Sweet Thames' by Matthew Kneale. I have to say I did not shed a tear, as the back of the book promised. And let it me said that I am not known for my heart of stone and dry eyes. Took me too long to read. Two full months. Other reviews claim Sarah Hall's other books are better and perhaps one day I might try them.
In the meantime I'll be trying a new author (to me) Scarlett Thomas.(less)