Neil’s review of Night Boat to Tangier > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Oooh 5 stars - I'm 65% of the way through and it is 3/4 so far for me in part as it feels more like the play it originally was than a novel (although I see generally in an ungenerous mood at present with books). Think the fairie folk will need to play a greater part in the final third to round it up. Will save your review till I've finished.


message 2: by Neil (last edited Apr 29, 2019 06:27AM) (new)

Neil It got at least 1-1.5 stars bonus for the language - and that's a personal thing that won't apply for everyone, but I liked it.

It felt like a novel all the way through to me.


message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Have you read City of Bohane?

All sorts of quarehawks lingered Trace-deep in the small hours. They looked down as he passed, they examined their toes and their sacks of tawny wine - you wouldn't make eye contact with the Long Fella if you could help it. Strange, but we had a fear of him and a pride in him, both. He had a fine hold of himself, as we say in Bohane. He was graceful and erect and he looked neither left nor right but straight out ahead always, with the shoulders thrown back, like a general. He walked the Arab tangle of alleyways and wynds that make up the Trace and there was the slap, the lift, the slap, the lift of Portuguese leather on the backstreet stones. Yes and Logan was in his element as he made progress through the labyrinth. He feared not the shadows, he knew the fibres of the place, he knew every last twist and lilt of it.


message 4: by Neil (new)

Neil I haven’t, but I will.


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher The language is better - although the setting is rather surreal (science fiction without the science bit)


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Nice link with MBI listed Murat Idrissi as well - where the Tangier - Algeciras ferry plays an equally key role


message 7: by Neil (new)

Neil That’s one I didn’t read. And this one maybe should have been 4 stars, but I did really enjoy the language!


message 8: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Big Issue this week called this best book of 2019 so far


message 9: by Neil (new)

Neil Not sure I would go quite that far, but it is one of my top reads of the year.


message 10: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Surprised if anything tops Spring or Lanny.


message 11: by Neil (new)

Neil I plan to read Lanny when (if) I get to the end of Ducks, Newburyport (which is also edging towards 5 stars)


message 12: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is far more than briefly (but not uniformly) excellent. Could already see it winning the Booker.


message 13: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard You and the Big Issue set my expectations way too high - some beautiful language at times but I felt it only placed into contrast the clichéd and profane nature of much of the rest of the writing. Just posted a brief review.


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher They are gangsters, how do you expect them to speak? and the fact that it is a lot less repetitive tham saying "the fact that" for 1000 pages


message 15: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard But why choose to write a book re gangsters - how many are there in the world compared to in films and literature. And how do you (or he) even know gangsters speak like this - it’s straight out of films.


message 16: by Tom (new)

Tom Mooney The dialogue is all tongue-in-cheek. It's a mix of pastiche and homage. I thought it was a pretty subversive image of the typical gangster novel or film.

And I would probably say it's my book of the year so far, just pipping Lanny (but not by much).


message 17: by Neil (new)

Neil I agree with Tom - I saw it as deliberate. Also, yes, it is pretty much like a movie. See also Doggerland on which we also disagreed, probably for similar reasons.


message 18: by Neil (new)

Neil I was going to make a comment about there not being many Papa Toothwort's in the world, either. But I know what you mean.


message 19: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard But there aren’t any in films either - just in Porter’s imagination. I find movie pastiche/homage lazy.


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher There is one on TV: well a Papa Lazarou. "Hello Dave ... You're my wife now."


message 21: by Neil (new)

Neil That's because you don't like movies!

Papa Toothwort comes from a long tradition of imaginary characters, I think, captured in folklore. And some might argue that folklore is pretty much movies before the invention of celluloid.


message 22: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Ultimately foul language (another lack of imagination) and drug taking (let alone dealing) lose a star each automatically so my review is 5 star otherwise.


message 23: by Neil (new)

Neil Ok. You probably shouldn’t read books about drug running gangsters, then!


message 24: by Neil (new)

Neil I am regularly mocked by friends for my refusal to swear, especially after they discovered it wasn't so much on moral grounds as a belief that it is a lazy way to express yourself. I am told it can be very satisfying, though.

However, it IS the way 90+% of the population talks, so, if you want believable dialogue in a book, it sort of has to have foul language in it.


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Those are usually my rules of thumb as well - although here in a way it seemed wrong to knock off two points as the two went together well, indeed I didn't knock off any. Neil - have you read City of Bohane yet?


message 26: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Hopefully no gangsters in that.


message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Logan Harnett would put Maurice and Charlie firmly in their place if they ever dared venture into Bohane:

All sorts of quarehawks lingered Trace-deep in the small hours. They looked down as he passed, they examined their toes and their sacks of tawny wine - you wouldn't make eye contact with the Long Fella if you could help it. Strange, but we had a fear of him and a pride in him, both. He had a fine hold of himself, as we say in Bohane. He was graceful and erect and he looked neither left nor right but straight out ahead always, with the shoulders thrown back, like a general. He walked the Arab tangle of alleyways and wynds that make up the Trace and there was the slap, the lift, the slap, the lift of Portuguese leather on the backstreet stones. Yes and Logan was in his element as he made progress through the labyrinth. He feared not the shadows, he knew the fibres of the place, he knew every last twist and lilt of it.


message 28: by Paul (last edited Jul 02, 2019 12:48AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher Neil wrote: "if you want believable dialogue in a book, it sort of has to have foul language in it.."

Interesting one as do you want believable dialogue? And if you do it should also be full of umms and errs, not always make much sense when read back etc. Indeed casual swearing is often just another form of umming and erring, ie verbal punctuation.


message 29: by Paul (last edited Jul 02, 2019 12:52AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher One final comment for a hattrick. I think I liked this more than his two previous novel in part as I came to them knowing they won the Impac and had been shortlisted for (later won) the Goldsmiths: so I had high expectations which they didn't really meet. I didn't come to this one with any great expectations in the same way, so was pleasantly surprised


message 30: by Neil (new)

Neil City of Bohane is near the top of my pile but things (i.e. other books) keep getting in the way. Soon. Maybe before Booker time. And you are right on dialogue, of course. And, as you know, I am normally quite happy for books to be unrealistic in lots of different ways. But when a book sets out to be real (e.g. two gangsters in conversation in a port), I think it should be consistently real. Although I probably don’t really mean that. Bottom line is, I choose not to use “bad language” but I am not bothered when others do and I find it can add a sense of believability to a book.


message 31: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard I think I came to this with too high expectations - not having read anything by him I had IMPAC winner, (more impressively) Goldsmith winner, Neil's 5* review and Big Issue "already book of the year".


message 32: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher I found it find here. Sellout and Vernon Subutex though were examples of ones where I felt it was just poor writing / padding.


message 33: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher Gumble's Yard wrote: "I think I came to this with too high expectations - not having read anything by him I had IMPAC winner, (more impressively) Goldsmith winner, Neil's 5* review and Big Issue "already book of the year"."

Yes that was what I was getting at.

The book I have just started definitively settles the drugs in books debate:

Reading is a vice which can replace all other vices or temporarily take their place in more intensely helping people live, it is an aberration a consuming passion. No, I don’t take any drugs, I take books


message 34: by Dan (new)

Dan Neil wrote: "But this book isn’t really about the story. It’s about the writing. I mean, who else can write ”The city ran a swarm of fast anchovy faces.”"

Yup, exactly. Some great writing in there.


message 35: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard Still flawed for me after two and a half reads and the book I selfishly least want to see on the shortlist - mainly as I don’t want to hear it read out to my children.


message 36: by Neil (new)

Neil Fair point. Let’s hope they don’t end up listening to Ron Lord instead, though.


message 37: by Paul (last edited Aug 09, 2019 12:14AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher Or Ducks as they will die of boredom. Or The Wall as the idea was to take them to an adult book event. Or The Man... as they like The Frog Song.

I feel a thread coming on.


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