An Irish accent A sense of humour A solid memory of world events and politics spanning part way through 2011 and into 2...moreTo read this novel you will need:
An Irish accent A sense of humour A solid memory of world events and politics spanning part way through 2011 and into 2012 A high level of tolerance for football, Irish domestic policy, frequent references to popular culture, sarcasm, dry wit and profanity Approximately 90 minutes of uninterrupted spare time Someone to gift it on to when you're done.(less)
Yes, Yes, Yes! A pop-up book to compete with the best of them. The concept is this: a single red dot on each page, hidden somewhere within the pop up...moreYes, Yes, Yes! A pop-up book to compete with the best of them. The concept is this: a single red dot on each page, hidden somewhere within the pop up which springs out of each page in a burst of colour. Boxes pop, orbs pivot, curly tails hang from seuss-like trees - it's impossible to see the little red dot without getting down on all fours, studying the pages to be the first to find it.
Meant to buy this years ago, being an avid pop-up fan, but couldn't never bring myself to spring for the price plus shipping from the U.S. So imagine my excitement when I found it on sale in Dubai. Happiness is, eh.(less)
What a fabulous, rip-roaringly wonderful read. If only all books could be as pleasurable an experience as this one. Is there any point in recapping th...moreWhat a fabulous, rip-roaringly wonderful read. If only all books could be as pleasurable an experience as this one. Is there any point in recapping the plot? This book's been around for awhile now (kudos to Anna who gave me a copy in 2007 with assuranes of a guaranteed great read - which I ignored for a good half decade). And it's just recently been made into a movie starring some good looking famous people.
There's a love story (isn't there always), a wealthy Sheikh (ditto), lots of political intrigue, scandal and oh, ego of course. Wherever you look, it's just ego, ego, ego. Pure and hilarious. The frightening thing is, having worked within the public service for awhile and being a little bit familiar with the science of "getting stuff done" while managing sensitive diplomatic relations at the same time, much of what is depicted in Salmon Fishing seems to be really very close to reality. It's satirised, to be sure, but I get the sense that Paul Torday's cynicism isn't based on nothing.
Of course, this book was always going to resonate with me more now, living in the Middle East where much of the book is set, than it did back in 2007 when I was living on the other side of the world in Samoa. But still, that's no excuse. This book has broad appeal, I don't care where you live. Deep down there's a thoughtful message too, but my take away is definitely the humour. I'll stop by my bookshelf often just to read and re-read the email exchanges between Alfred and his almost-not-quite-estranged wife. Oh, and the interludes with Peter Maxwell, whose TV show idea was spectacularly ridiculous in the extreme. P. 240. Read it and weep.(less)
"This book was exciting and funny and right now I am dying to read the sequel. It's about a vampire called Nigel who doesn't have any vampire powers,...more"This book was exciting and funny and right now I am dying to read the sequel. It's about a vampire called Nigel who doesn't have any vampire powers, and has a crush on a new girl called Chloe. He desperately tries to win Chloe over but doesn't know if he should tell her he's a vampire or keep it a secret."(less) (less)
I wanted to love this book, because I love Jeanette Winterson. I mean, as a person and a writer, I greatly admire her. Every time I hear her speak I w...moreI wanted to love this book, because I love Jeanette Winterson. I mean, as a person and a writer, I greatly admire her. Every time I hear her speak I want to stand up and applaud, she's witty and irreverent and insightful and inspiring and this - Oranges, is THE quintessential Winterson novel, isn't it, so I just HAD to love it?
But I didn't! Not at all! It was painful and slow and downright bizarre in places. There were loose threads that couldn't be pinned down and unresolved issues and a lot of plodding, plodding, plodding. But then again, there were times of real connection; real sympathy and humour. It got me all in a muddle. I had the same reaction to Written on The Body, which I loved right the way up until Winterson started drawing analogies between a woman's crotch and the smell of a cooking partridge. You know that moment when you're going, "yep, you got me, I'm with you, I'm listening, I hear ya" and then all of a sudden "....ahh, shit, nope. You lost me."
But that's ok. I still reserve my right to keep on loving Jeanette Winterson, even though her novels seem intent on not loving me.(less)
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is the Perfect Novel. Here is a list of the essential components of the Perfect Novel :
1) The Perfect Novel is almost i...moreThe Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is the Perfect Novel. Here is a list of the essential components of the Perfect Novel :
1) The Perfect Novel is almost impossible to review well.
Case in point This review, clearly. For better summaries I recommend Scott's equally glowing but much more coherent review. For a quick synopsis, the back blurb has put into words what I cannot: "Half-Apache and mostly orphaned, the adventures of Edgar Presely Mint begin on an Arizona reservation at the age of seven when the mailman's jeep accidently runs over his head. Shunted from the hospital to a reform school to a Mormon foster family, comedy and trouble accompany Edgar - the irresistible innocent who never truly loses heart, and whose quest for the mailman eventually leads him to an unexpected home."
2) The Perfect Novel has characters so real that you become convinced that THEY live in the real world and you live in a made-up one.
Case in point Edgar Mint is a kid whose dead-pan, reflective voice belies the force with which he explodes on the page. Sometimes, some novels, you're introduced to characters who take awhile to brew with you. You have sit with them awhile, follow them around a bit before you feel like they're real. Edgar Mint, by contrast, is a kid who is so vivid, so authentic from the very first moment you meet him, that it's you who feels like a fake.
3) The exercise of reading the Perfect Novel will, by default, render all other activities pointless, distracting and inconvenient in the extreme. Conversation will be scorned, commitments broken, sleep lost, meals missed and relationships with real-actual-people risked.
Case in point If it's not Edgar's voice that grabs you, it's his story. The opening line is: "If I could tell you only one thing about my life it would be this: when I was 7 years old the mail man ran over my head." If this was a normal novel, you would be able to put this book down after reading a few chapters and continue about your daily tasks like a normal person. But, since this is not a normal novel, but in fact the Perfect Novel, you should know that it will be IMPOSSIBLE to put this book down until every last footnote, dedication and page number has been read, nay, inhaled.
4) The Perfect Novel always elicit some form of extreme emotion accompanied by its associated outward manifestation, i.e.: Happiness = laughter; tears = snot; anger = book tossing. Sometimes all at once.
Case in point Edgar Mint's life involves a series of unfortunate if not downright tragic turns that it's hard to comprehend why it is that you find yourself laughing so heartily so frequently. But then all of a sudden (because it's the Perfect Novel with the Perfect Story Arc), you unearth the mystery of Edgar's near-death experience and find the laughter has all but evaporated, leaving in its place an enormous weight of sadness that can only, inevitably, result in snot.
5) The Perfect Novel may lead to hefty library fines.
Case in point I can neither confirm nor deny whether I have yet returned Edgar Mint to the library after I borrowed it in January.
6) The Perfect Novel is not a book, but a friend.
Case in point I still cruise by the bookshelf every now and again to say Hi to Edgar Mint, (who may or may not be on my bookshelf) and to flip through the dog-eared pages to re-read a few of my favourite passages. Because friendships, like the Perfect Novel, are forever. (less)