Blair
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Blair

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Blair rated a book liked it
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
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Six years ago, I loved Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child; I leapt on The Sparsholt Affair as soon as it was published, not least because I thought it sounded rather similar. The story is split into five parts, spanning a period of about 70 yea ...more
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Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley
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After the unexpected success of The Loney, high expectations surround Andrew Michael Hurley's second novel. Can it possibly live up to his award-winning debut? In my opinion, it certainly does (and then some), but it is a very different animal. Reade ...more
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The Lost Village by Neil  Spring
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The Lost Village is a welcome return for Harry Price and Sarah Grey, last seen in 2013's The Ghost Hunters. It's told in flashback, as an elderly Sarah sees a vision of the famous paranormal researcher and feels compelled to record the tale of one pa ...more
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UnAmerican Activities by James Miller
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A striking prologue frames UnAmerican Activities as the edited remains of a cache of documents emailed to Miller by a mysterious individual known only as Tim. Together, they form a motley patchwork of interlinked stories portraying a USA not quite ra ...more
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The Future Won't Be Long by Jarett Kobek
The Future Won't Be Long
by Jarett Kobek (Goodreads Author)
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A sequel of sorts to Kobek's I Hate the Internet – though I can't help wondering whether this was written first, not only because it's set in an earlier time period, but because it feels more conventional in structure and more naive and hopeful, le ...more
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The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
The Gone World
by Tom Sweterlitsch (Goodreads Author)
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I wanted to read this because of the story that Neill Blomkamp is adapting it into a film, as well as the fact that Sweterlitsch has served as co-writer on a number of Blomkamp’s Oats Studios projects. I mention this first because The Gone World, bei ...more
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Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Bonfire
by Krysten Ritter (Goodreads Author)
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I would say this is the best novel by an actor I've ever read, but I'm not actually sure I've ever read any other novels by actors. Either way, this is good stuff, not just some indulgent vanity project. Ritter's debut is a pacy legal thriller which ...more
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Alt-America by David Neiwert
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After a really strong introduction, I was excited about this comprehensive review of the modern political right in North America. Neiwert's thesis is that the right-wing groups and movements of today's USA have formed a perception of American society ...more
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The Innocent Wife by Amy  Lloyd
The Innocent Wife
by Amy Lloyd (Goodreads Author)
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In the 90s, a documentary film makes Dennis Danson – imprisoned at 18 for murder on the basis of flimsy evidence – something of a cause célèbre. Our protagonist, Sam, is introduced to the case by her boyfriend, and becomes obsessed, spending hours on ...more
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Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
Ugly Girls
by Lindsay Hunter (Goodreads Author)
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I love Hunter's short stories; her style doesn't make the transition to novel length quite as successfully as I'd hoped. In Ugly Girls there are familiar elements of the author's work – the trailer parks and the Circle K, the grubbiness and dishonest ...more
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Margaret Cezair-Thompson
“I performed the part of an odd, quiet woman, and performed it to everyone's satisfaction. When others slept, I was awake; when they woke, they found me quietly occupied. I took walks by myself. I read and sewed or sat in the garden with my own self for company. I was not missed. I have never been missed. I had all the manners and necessities of other women of my society, yet I was without society.

... I simply surrendered to that brute unhappiness which had always been close at hand. I no longer made the effort to appear civil, for by then I loathed civilisation from the bottom of my heart. Solitude, after a while, becomes the worst kind of savagery.”
Margaret Cezair-Thompson, The True History of Paradise

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“An anxiety with no object or purpose in the present, and in the future nothing but endless sacrifice, by means of which he would attain nothing - that was what his days on earth held in store for him... What good was life to him? What prospects did he have? What did he have to strive for? Was he to live merely in order to exist? But a thousand times before he had been ready to give up his existence for an idea, for a hope, even for an imagining. Existence on its own had never been enough for him; he had always wanted more than that. Perhaps it was merely the strength of his own desires that made him believe he was a person to whom more was allowed than others.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Aristotle
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”
Aristotle

Zoë Heller
“Being alone is not the most awful thing in the world. You visit your museums and cultivate your interests and remind yourself how lucky you are not to be one of those spindly Sudanese children with flies beading their mouths. You make out To Do lists - reorganise linen cupboard, learn two sonnets. You dole out little treats to yourself - slices of ice-cream cake, concerts at Wigmore Hall. And then, every once in a while, you wake up and gaze out of the window at another bloody daybreak, and think, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot pull myself together again and spend the next fifteen hours of wakefulness fending off the fact of my own misery.

People like Sheba think that they know what it's like to be lonely. They cast their minds back to the time they broke up with a boyfriend in 1975 and endured a whole month before meeting someone new. Or the week they spent in a Bavarian steel town when they were fifteen years old, visiting their greasy-haired German pen pal and discovering that her hand-writing was the best thing about her. But about the drip drip of long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they know nothing. They don't know what it is to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the laundrette. Or to sit in a darkened flat on Halloween night, because you can't bear to expose your bleak evening to a crowd of jeering trick-or-treaters. Or to have the librarian smile pityingly and say, ‘Goodness, you're a quick reader!’ when you bring back seven books, read from cover to cover, a week after taking them out. They don't know what it is to be so chronically untouched that the accidental brush of a bus conductor's hand on your shoulder sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. I have sat on park benches and trains and schoolroom chairs, feeling the great store of unused, objectless love sitting in my belly like a stone until I was sure I would cry out and fall, flailing, to the ground. About all of this, Sheba and her like have no clue.”
Zoë Heller, What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal]

Anne Fine
“Yesterday, when we were packing, Julius asked me,

"If you could rub Tulip out of your past life, would you do it?"

And I had to shake my head. I can't regret the times we had together. Sometimes I worry I won't have times like that again, that there will be no lit nights, no incandescent days. But I know it's not true. There can be colour in a million ways. I know I'll find it on my own.”
Anne Fine, The Tulip Touch

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