Having thoroughly enjoyed Starter for Ten and One Day, I was slightly surprised at how disappointing this novel was but we all have our bad days, I suHaving thoroughly enjoyed Starter for Ten and One Day, I was slightly surprised at how disappointing this novel was but we all have our bad days, I suppose. The self-deprecation and delusion that is ordinarily charming in many of Nicholls' characters is rather pathetic in Stephen. Nicholls should be congratulated in succeeding in creating some truly cringeworthy moments, but again I often felt more like rolling my eyes and shaking Stephen than patting his shoulder and assuring him we all have moments like that. Although this is relatively lacklustre compared to his other efforts, I remain a fan of Nicholls' work and still number him amongst my favourite contemporary British comic writers....more
Craig Mullaney's memoir reveals such a personable and erudite young man. His experiences are told with humour and great humility, despite his rather eCraig Mullaney's memoir reveals such a personable and erudite young man. His experiences are told with humour and great humility, despite his rather extraordinary achievements. There is also a lot of pain in this book, from the loss of his men in battle to the loss of his father through estrangement; only one of these feels fairly resolved by the end, and understandably so. Also of interest is the way in which Mullaney immerses himself in Hindu culture out of both intellectual interest and love for his wife, and seems to mesh this well with his unshaken Catholic faith.
As when reading the work of his contemporary Nathaniel Fick, I could not help but think that if not the world but at least most of the military in the world were staffed by fellows like them, I would feel a lot better....more
The premise of this book could have run the risk of being gimmicky but in David Nicholls' hands it simply works. These snapshots of the characters livThe premise of this book could have run the risk of being gimmicky but in David Nicholls' hands it simply works. These snapshots of the characters lives support the claim Emma later makes when asked about her relationship with Dexter, "We grew up together." The changes wrought in the characters are more subtle as we miss those key moments that would ordinarily be used to drive a story along, such as the death of Dex's mother or the beginning of Emma's affair. Nicholls is emerging as one of my favourite contemporary British writers - and a damn good screenwriter too, so it will be interesting to see how this pans out in the upcoming film (I can't help but wonder whether Nicholls half-writes the screenplay as he writes the novels now...)....more
Initially, I had difficulty getting into this book. The style, at the very beginning, was bare reportage. It felt like I was being hit with a barrageInitially, I had difficulty getting into this book. The style, at the very beginning, was bare reportage. It felt like I was being hit with a barrage of names and events, with no analysis and narrative (as I would expect from this kind of non-fiction). But I was pulled into the lives of these people, and LeBlanc actually teases out the nuances of their lives more and more as the book progresses, and she lapses into greater poetry and analysis as the mounting experiences of the characters force an acknowledgement and investigation of the complexity of the social milieu in which they exist.
Although I was drawn into this world, I was also frustrated by it. Even knowing how to look at these lives from a sociological perspective, I wanted to do nothing more than grab each of the characters (I use this term meaning no disrespect to the real individuals, nor am I suggesting that they are caricatured) and tell them to use a condom, to go to school, to act in ways that would stop the vicious cycle in which they seemed trapped. My frustration was also directed at the bureaucratic and political system, which tries to help on the one hand but completely fails at it on the other. Ultimately, however, I did find there was some hope, even as my heart sank at the pronouncement of Serena's teen pregnancy. Or perhaps I need there to be hope....more
As someone who knows little to nothing about American football, I finished this book with maybe a modicum more knowledge about the game itself but thaAs someone who knows little to nothing about American football, I finished this book with maybe a modicum more knowledge about the game itself but that certainly was not the point. This is an incredibly captivating and compelling portrait of how a small Texan town's obsession with the sport filters through its social, political and economic relations. Perhaps most fascinating about this book were the resonances the experiences of these people has with the experiences of many today with relation to the economic crisis; it was all too familiar. While Bissinger's affection for his subjects is clear, he does not flinch from presenting a warts and all portrait, which, his epilogue notes, did not please many of his Odessan friends. I found the stories of the town and its individual citizens utterly engrossing, and was anxiously chewing my nails towards the climax, hoping as hard as anyone at Permian that they would make state...even though I had no idea what was going on in the game....more
I have two complaints about this book. The first is that I didn't bloody well think of doing this myself. The second is that Deck and Herson misrepresI have two complaints about this book. The first is that I didn't bloody well think of doing this myself. The second is that Deck and Herson misrepresent the work of Lynne Truss, seeming to rely upon Talk To The Hand rather than her actual grammar-stickler tome, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. As writers with a clear sense of humour themselves, I would have thought they would recognise it elsewhere. With that off my chest, I very much enjoyed this. I was highly amused by their exploits and sympathetic with their overall mission, but perhaps the best part of the book was the way in which these adventures enabled an exploration of American society and the importance of communication, whether that be how a typo changes the meaning of a message (or the image you are trying to convey) to the importance of actually engaging in a civilised conversation with someone before pointing out all the errors in their signage....more
Willig delivers yet again with the fourth book in her enjoyable Pink Carnation series. This one is particularly interesting because the characters areWillig delivers yet again with the fourth book in her enjoyable Pink Carnation series. This one is particularly interesting because the characters are, in a way, not her most overtly likeable but being an old grump myself, I quite like their darkness and cynicism. The sections featuring Eloise and Colin are, however, useful for lightening the tone - but the plot certainly thickens in twenty-first century London. This series is an always welcome diversion and I look forward to settling in with the next one soon....more
While in many ways a quite readable novel, it is also incredibly frustrating and disappointing. The style is fairly lucid and conversational, and theWhile in many ways a quite readable novel, it is also incredibly frustrating and disappointing. The style is fairly lucid and conversational, and the novel's basic premise has merit but all is lost when it turns more tragic than comic. The coyness of the literary jokes is tiresome rather than clever (or a challenge to the reader). Sam is an unapologetically nothing of character, and his family's collective alcoholism is entirely disturbing, as is his in-laws' unhingedness. I read this book quickly and easily, driven by the hope of a clever denouement only to be disappointed....more