1987 notebook: liked the first bit, a writer concerned with detail, colours, description, feelings.. like it, a bit overloaded in places, but fresh and1987 notebook: liked the first bit, a writer concerned with detail, colours, description, feelings.. like it, a bit overloaded in places, but fresh and charming, resonant....more
well I was going to give this 'novel' 2 stars or even one, because it is on the surface a slight book, even a silly one: the protagonist is a Norwegiawell I was going to give this 'novel' 2 stars or even one, because it is on the surface a slight book, even a silly one: the protagonist is a Norwegian theatre man on holiday with his wife in Bavaria ('the cradle of Nazism', as the unimpressed hero says to his over-impressed wife), who has an obsession with Nigella Lawson, and in his constant fantasising about her neglects his wife and child to the extent they split. However it's funny. I started to - if not exactly lol - giggle at his stupidity and blindness but grow quite fond of him, and his long suffering wife. This was written in 2009, and in it he suggests that Charles Saatchi might be violent towards Nigella, and that she is calling out for rescue in her TV programmes and books, what (unintended?) foresight!
So, it's childish, light but fun. You could read in under two hours....more
maybe didn't learn anything new from this book: war is bad, [some] Americans are stupid, or over-patriotic. eg they keep talking to the protagonist (amaybe didn't learn anything new from this book: war is bad, [some] Americans are stupid, or over-patriotic. eg they keep talking to the protagonist (a hero soldier and his squadron being feted by all around*)of how the invasion of Iraq is justice for 'nina leven' without anyone correcting them: Iraq of course had nothing to do with the 9/11 atrocities. Also the hero is 19 and falls in love with a cheerleader (it's mostly set during a game at the Dallas Cowboys stadium), predictably. On a 'victory tour' the Bravo squadron are given the run-around on a film deal about their heroics, and their stardom is destined to be temporary, until people move on to the next thing.
However it is all done with verve, humour, honesty and compassion. Its breathless style does capture a 19 year old's mixed take on life, still impressed by flair and style and yet not quite trusting his luck (eg the half time show where Beyoncé is a foot away from him), even if it does go over the top sometimes: Yes, he answers, love blanketing his heart like a slab of melting cheddar.
*a battle featuring the Bravo troop has been shown on Fox news, and thus ignited the country's interest in them. btw Fox news recently said that the city I live in (Birmingham, UK) is a no go area for non-Muslims, which was news to me. I - and the city of Birmingham - have been laughing ever since (see #foxnewsfacts on twitter). ...more
well I was currently reading, but my wife has borrowed, so I'll get back to it soon.. ..back reading it now.. read.. review coming..
sort of review: a bwell I was currently reading, but my wife has borrowed, so I'll get back to it soon.. ..back reading it now.. read.. review coming..
sort of review: a beautiful book, spoiled slightly by long-windedness and repetition. A generation span novel set in the coastal South of the USA taking in most of the twentieth century. The characters are good: vain, angry, delightful, stupid, clever, love-struck, selfish: everyone seems real. Some a re very quirky (or downright strange when it comes to some of them, eg the funeral director's son and his wife when he grows up). The prose dips and flows wonderfully. The set pieces work well, but - this is my only caveat - the novel endlessly (not quite endlessly obviously, but as my wife said - she also liked it a lot - he does go on a bit) circles key moments, the death of a main character for example, seen from many viewpoints, and this can get slightly tedious. Only slightly though! ...more
well this barged its way up the waiting list. Was available at the library and couldn't resist having a peek, now I'm hooked. Looks like another greatwell this barged its way up the waiting list. Was available at the library and couldn't resist having a peek, now I'm hooked. Looks like another great Warner book.. ..enjoying a lot, as someone has said a kind of 80s literary 'Withnail and I', and I like the characters, early 20s would be writers/shysters, but no, I definitely don't like this: 'Short Stories?' He shrugged. 'You can shoot off names: Delmore Schartz,. He's overrated.. Welshy Rhys Davies's Canute... so forget the bloody short story. It's like a pack of ten fags instead of 20, or a half pint. No point in them.' you want to jump in and say what about Poe, Stevenson, Mansfield, Pritchett etc. For God's sake Carver had his second collection (What we Talk About...) out two or three years before the time of this novel. I remember reading it then.
..excellent, but not quite as good as Deadman's Pedal, or The Stars in the Bright Sky or, of course, his best and first Morvern Callar.
Silence, exile and Cunningham: the name immediately given to the narrator by Llewellyn when they meet in A&E. The book like a dream, literary types in their twenties; Llewellyn has had his front ripped open and sewn back together and is the father of baby Lily, living with the mother, a model, Aoife, in a high rise flat in North London. Cunningham moves in, falls in love with Aoife. But it's not just a menage a trois, for Aoife's friend Abby is also a model, and closely 'intertwined' with them. They make an unlikely foursome living through a grimy, plummeting early-to-mid 80s. The miners' strike runs down and is crushed at the start, and the book ends around the time of the Brighton bomb just failing to kill Margaret Thatcher. Not long then. A drink and drug dream and fug they live in, money - what little there is - spent on booze rather than food, smoky pubs, spirits and Guinness, cannabis, and one memorable, hilarious acid trip, where Llewellyn has a religious conversion under a neon Lucozade sign. They're on their way to Harmondsworth when this happens, to find out why Penguin located there, and why their (non existent) masterpieces are not on the Penguin Classics list. So within a splintering country, suffering severe violence to its social fabric, these four live in a glowing, (hetero)sexual - although there are some hints at other with the two women being close, and the narrator admiring Loo’s scarred torso - ménage, the two men discussing books. Both awed by Aoife's beauty which shines and burns through the pages.
There is indulgence here, a whole scene in which a drunk lonely millionaire shows Aoife and Cunningham his home, and the ugliness of commerce, of money, bodies bought (Aoife is offered £30 to show her boobs) is supposed to contrast with the innocence of their flat-life, but Aoife also earns money from her body too, modelling, so there's ambiguity here.
Anyway despite a few puzzles, and for the marvellous indulgences and set pieces (the registry office marriage, followed by the restaurant meal where they all do a runner in their wedding finery); for all its gorgeousness, I love it. ...more
ordinary and strange at the same time. I love the way it all comes together, but not quite. Withheld information a bit naughty at times, but on the whordinary and strange at the same time. I love the way it all comes together, but not quite. Withheld information a bit naughty at times, but on the whole well done. Still puzzled, in a good way. Poor old Lewis. Billy Graham, D H Lawrence, chemistry experiments, denial, Labradors, 1961, villages at night feature. It was all yellow....more
someone on facebook had this on their feed, and I want to acknowledge but can't now find! Anyway the feed led me to this review by none other than Annsomeone on facebook had this on their feed, and I want to acknowledge but can't now find! Anyway the feed led me to this review by none other than Annie Proulx: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011... I'm already a fan of his short stories (Banished Misfortune). Beautiful, and also enjoyed his novel Sudden Times. So, off to the library...
...70 pages in, another Irish book but so different from the last one - A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. [Now finished] The latter was intense, anguished, difficult, with community second to individual needs and hypocrisy everywhere. This book is laid back, a community that is always helpful to its inhabitants and to passing strangers, where religion is lightly applied, and death although grieved over is accepted. A truly beautiful book, full of odd characters: Joejoe the grumpy old man who may or may not have shot a hole in his window, his companion Bird who sees ghost hens. The narrator is a 16 year old boy, also a companion to Joejoe and birdie (getting them their fags, doing errands, to the point of smearing cream over the naked Joejoe to help with his eczema). His family are pretty everyday, his dad a builder, his mum a nurse. But even they do strange things like drive into town and wander about not acknowledging each other. However they are perfect citizens when it comes to helping others, giving passing Polish hitchhikers a room for the night or feeding Bird's dog through the letterbox when he goes to hospital and won't let them have the key. It's all framed by the sea and the mountains of (west coast?) Ireland. It is a book to love, in which not a lot happens, except life and death. ...more
from my 2002 notebook: read this mainly because it's set partly on the number 11 circular bus route round Birmingham (UK) which passes the bottom of mfrom my 2002 notebook: read this mainly because it's set partly on the number 11 circular bus route round Birmingham (UK) which passes the bottom of my road. I love the number 11 bus (when it finally arrives) but I didn't love this - pretty crap. One or two laughs. ...more
read this back in 2002, I find this note when looking through my 2002 notebook: well observed, eg the cluttered flat, afraid to move in case they distread this back in 2002, I find this note when looking through my 2002 notebook: well observed, eg the cluttered flat, afraid to move in case they disturb clouds of dust. Affecting....more
Jones has a firm but poetic grip on his narrative, which follows the (mis)fortunes of a grieving farmer and a badgwonderful. A Welsh Cormac McCarthy.
Jones has a firm but poetic grip on his narrative, which follows the (mis)fortunes of a grieving farmer and a badger-baiter in an isolated part of Wales. Life and death are unsentimentally portrayed, grass, sheep, dogs, rats, humans all treated the same really; although it is impossible not to empathise with Daniel, the farmer as he struggles to keep up with his chores and thinks of his wife. Even the brutal badger baiter evinces sympathy (from me anyway) in the way he stands outside society, tough on the outside but inwardly panicky as the police move in. The writing is pared down, but occasionally lush (hence the Cormac McCarthy comparison: particularly 'The Road' because the world is sometimes filtered through the perception of a boy). Here’s a sample, from when they've been digging into a badger's sett:
They sent the bitch in and Jip came up. He looked like he was grinning. His mouth was open and flecked with spit. The dog was exhausted and thirsty but gleamed with the event somehow and when they took off the box and collar, steam came into the morning air off his body. The boy was confused that they ignored the thick obvious blood that came out of the Patterdale and spread down its throat.
The boy kept looking at the exhausted bleeding stubborn dog. The fresh blood seemed a synthetic colour against the dun-green slope.
That'll probably convince you one way or the other.
A masterpiece of withheld information, this book keeps the reader turning pages to see if any of the under-the-surface violence erupts, to find out whA masterpiece of withheld information, this book keeps the reader turning pages to see if any of the under-the-surface violence erupts, to find out what or who is killing the protagonist’s sheep, and to discover why she is in exile, running from something that happened in Australia that has sent her to the other side of the world (a British island). What are the welts on her back: who caused them and why? Is it some massive dog or fox killing her sheep or is it the local teenagers who mock her when she comes to town?
The novel is tightly constructed with the ‘present day’ story moving forward as Jake Whyte – the broad shouldered sheep farmer and single woman – attempts to isolate herself without success from the community, while dealing with her attacked sheep and a drifter sleeping off his hangovers in her shed; interleaving chapters tell the story of her life in Australia in reverse: from her stint on an Australian sheep farm back to her schooldays and the reason for her exile. This could have been a mess, but Wyld manages the intertwining narratives perfectly. Some (Karen) have suggested there may be a minor problem with the very end, but I like the ambiguity.
Wyld writes beautifully about the countryside, the titular birds everywhere:The first stars are bright needles, and in the old Moreton Bay fig that hangs over the tractor shed and drops nuts on the roof while I sleep, a currawang and a white galah are having it out; I can hear the blood-thick bleat of them. But there’s also spiders, flies (drinking at the corners of my eyes), a damaged kangaroo, dogs (a couple become major characters), and of course sheep. I could almost shear a sheep myself after reading the precise descriptions. Her human characters are vivid too: sly, violent, greedy, unsure, but also kind and sympathetic (if grudgingly so). A terrific read, alive with detail, prickly with menace, and not without humour. ...more