Tag Archives: Edward St.Aubyn

Savidge Reads Books of 2012 – Part One…

I was going to try and be really brave and break the habit of this blogs and just do a single top ten books of the year. I tried and tried and tried, and I failed. I simply couldn’t only have ten, in fact I actually had a top thirty roughly, but then I have read 167 books (Green Carnation submissions always bump this figure up, what will next year be like without them) this year so maybe that will make it slightly more understandable. So what I have done once again is have two top tens, one of the books published for the first time in the UK in 2012 and another with all the other books published before that – it is the latter we are focusing on today. For the full review click on the link, I have chosen a highlighting paragraph to tempt you for this post.

10. The Claude Glass by Tom Bullough

I really liked the fact Bullough creates this sense of place and people and wants you to work with him on building the bigger picture and using all the things unsaid along with tiny tensions to create the full narrative tale.  I think by now you will have probably guessed that I thought ‘The Claude Glass’ was an unusual and incredibly accomplished piece of writing, silently impressive and one that rewards you in many ways.

9. You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead by Marieke Hardy

‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ is one of those books which manages to make you laugh out loud, feel ever so uncomfortable at its honesty, possibly makes you want to cry and then makes you laugh all over again. When someone writes their memoirs it isn’t necessarily that the full truth doesn’t come out, just that the author tends to look at things in a rose tinted way, highlighting their best bits – not so in the case of Marieke.

8. Days of Grace by Catherine Hall

What I also really admired and loved about the book is that even though we have one narrator we have two stories. These are told in alternating chapters throughout the book. This device is one that is used often and normally I have to admit one story will overtake my interest as I read on. Not in the case of ‘Days of Grace’. I was desperate to know what was going to happen with Nora and Grace as the war went on both in idyllic Kent and the roughness and danger of London but I also wanted to know, just as much, what was going to happen with Nora in the present, her health and the relationship with Rose and her baby. Both stories had me intrigued and I think that was because Catherine Hall very cleverly has the stories mystery foreboding the past tense narrative and shadowing the present without us knowing what it is until the last minute.

7. The World That Was Ours – Hilda Bernstein

‘The World That Was Ours’ shows the power of books, writing, journalism and memoir. When it was published back in 1967 it was a dangerous book to release and there were many people who would have liked to see it destroyed. Thank goodness it found a publisher back then and thank goodness Persephone have chosen it as a book to reprint for us to discover because it is just the sort of book that everyone should read. I will be re-reading this again for definite.

6. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

You can feel the sense of unease on almost every page, both in a combination of the mystery of Hiero unraveling and war drawing nearer does give the book a slight thriller twist. If you think that is a negative thing it is not I promise you because Edugyan merges the literary elements of the novel with the tension and pace perfectly… and it stays with you long after you read it.

5. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

There were so many things that I loved about Beryl Bainbridge’s writing that it might be hard to encompass them all, I will endeavour to try though. First of all is how much is in such a small book. At a mere 200 pages, and in fairly big print which could be devoured in a few hours, so much happens that when you have finished you find yourself recapping it all and thinking ‘did that all just happen in this book?’ There are funerals, hilarious seductions in cellars, hilarious seductions in a shared bedroom and a shared bathroom, a mother in law with a grudge to bear and a gun in her handbag, a fight in Windsor Castle, horse riding with the Queen’s funereal regiment, something awful on an outing which leads to a strange trip to a safari park, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

4. Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn

I always admire an author who can write beautifully and simply, an author who can create the most understated of melodramas will win me over. I also always admire an author who can write a passage that chills you before one that makes you laugh out loud and then another which horrifies you all over again. All these things are encompassed in Edward St Aubyn’s first Patrick Melrose novel ‘Never Mind’.

3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I don’t think I have yet read a piece of fiction which seems to encapsulate the entire breadth in which cancer can affect people and not just those in the eye of the storm it creates. Ness looks at the full spectrum of emotions for all those involved, from Conor, his mother and grandmother to those on the periphery such as Conor’s teachers. He takes these feeling and reactions, condenses them and then makes them readable, effecting, emotional and compelling in just over 200 pages. The monster itself is also an incredible character being utterly evil in many ways and yet having hints of goodness amongst the chaos he creates so that you are never quite sure if he is friend or foe.

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I wouldn’t normally say that I was a reader who subscribes to adventure stories or love stories and yet Madeline Miller’s debut novel ‘The Song of Achilles’ is easily my favourite read of the year so far. The reason for this is simple, she’s a bloody good storyteller, a great writer and I think the enthusiasm she has for classics becomes contagious somewhere in the way she writes. Madeline Miller has made me want to run out and read more books with this book, what more can you ask from an author than that?

1.  Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

I think ‘Kiss Kiss’ will undoubtedly remain one of my favourite short story collections, and one that I will happily dip in and out of again and again in the future. It has that delightfully dark, yet awfully darkly funny, essence to it that I just really enjoy. It has made me want to go out and read all of Dahl’s other adult work (especially with the covers in this new series by Penguin) and also dig out my old childhood favourites which I am sure I will now see in a whole new light. I would definitely recommend that you read this collection if you haven’t, they are mini macabre masterpieces.

So that is my first top ten of 2012 and all the books I really, really loved published before this year that I read this year. Make sense? I do also want to mention ‘Now You See Me’ by S.J. Bolton, ‘Packing For Mars’ by Mary Roach (both of which I read for The Readers Summer Book Club and adored), ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen and ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens (both have been part of Classically Challenged and the latter of which I will be talking about tomorrow), all highly recommended.

So what about your what are your post-2012 books of 2012? Which of these have you read and what did you think? Any other books you would recommend you think I might like having loved the above? Do pop back for Part Two on Monday!

24 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Books of 2012

My Books of 2012, So Far…

I mentioned the other day that we were halfway through the year and how I was taking stock of what I had read so far and what I wanted to read over the next few months. Well in terms of what I have read I thought I would give you a list of my top ten books of the year so far, we all like a list of books don’t we, each comes with a brief quote from my review – you can click on the title and author for the full reviews.

Diving Belles – Lucy Wood

“I don’t think I have been this excited or captivated by a debut author, or indeed a well known one, in quite some time… It’s the sort of book that really makes reading come alive and re-ignites or invigorates the joy of reading to anyone no matter how little or how much you read. I should really stop enthusing now shouldn’t I? It might seem a little obvious to say that this is easily my book of the year and will be a collection I return to again and again but it’s true.”

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

“I wouldn’t normally say that I was a reader who subscribes to adventure stories or love stories and yet Madeline Miller’s debut novel ‘The Song of Achilles’ is easily my favourite read of the year so far. The reason for this is simple, she’s a bloody good storyteller, a great writer and I think the enthusiasm she has for classics becomes contagious somewhere in the way she writes.”

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

“I was enjoying ‘The Snow Child’ so much from the start that I did something I hardly ever do. Rather than read it in chunks when I could, I simply devoted almost a whole day to it. I could have saved it and made it last, but sometimes you have to think ‘stuff that’ and just get lost in it all. So I did and read the book in pretty much one go just gorging on it. Now that is the sign of a truly magical book, I was completely spellbound… apart from having to pop the heater on and making the occasional hot drink as the snow really does feel like it’s coming off the page.”

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

“I don’t think I have yet read a piece of fiction which seems to encapsulate the entire breadth in which cancer can affect people and not just those in the eye of the storm it creates. Ness looks at the full spectrum of emotions for all those involved, from Conor, his mother and grandmother to those on the periphery such as Conor’s teachers. He takes these feeling and reactions, condenses them and then makes them readable, effecting, emotional and compelling in just over 200 pages.”

You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead – Marieke Hardy

“‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ is one of those books which manages to make you laugh out loud, feel ever so uncomfortable at its honesty, possibly makes you want to cry and then makes you laugh all over again. When someone writes their memoirs it isn’t necessarily that the full truth doesn’t come out, just that the author tends to look at things in a rose tinted way, highlighting their best bits – not so in the case of Marieke.”

Now You See Me – S.J. Bolton

“It is hard to say too much about ‘Now You See Me’ without spoilers or sounding too sycophantic. It is really a book of layers, you have the layers of the atmosphere of London (though the book does travel to Cardiff), the multiple facets and layers of the characters from the killer to Lacey and all the cops in between and also it is a book which has more than just a layer of murder, you get to know the victims and those affected by the horrific events that unfold you also get to look at some of the social issues affecting our times.”

Down the Rabbit Hole – Juan Pablo Villalobos

“Child narrators are something which either work superbly in a novel and make it or can completely ruin it with a more saccharinely sweet, naive and possibly precociously irritating tone. It is a very fine line and one that an author has to get just right. When done well they can be used as a way of innocently describing much more adult themes in a book or for leaving gaps in which we as adults can put the blanks, this is the way that Juan Pablo Villalobos uses his narrator Tochtli. Tochtli is a wonderful narrator as he describes the strange circumstances, somewhere in Mexico, he finds himself in as the son of a drug lord – of course Tochtli doesn’t know this but through what he doesn’t say we put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

The Lifeboat – Charlotte Rogan

“I was completely won over by ‘The Lifeboat’, enthralled in fact, so much so that would you believe it… I wanted more! At a deceptive 288 pages Rogan manages to pack in so much in terms of plot, back story, twists, turns and red herrings it is amazing that the book isn’t another few hundred pages long. Yet I think to be left wanting more of a book is always a good sign no matter what the length of it. If you are looking for a literary novel, because the prose is superb, that will have you utterly gripped and guessing along the way then I do urge you to give ‘The Lifeboat’ a whirl, I thought it was fantastic.”

Never Mind – Edward St Aubyn

“I always admire an author who can write beautifully and simply, an author who can create the most understated of melodramas will win me over. I also always admire an author who can write a passage that chills you before one that makes you laugh out loud and then another which horrifies you all over again. All these things are encompassed in Edward St Aubyn’s first Patrick Melrose novel ‘Never Mind’.”

Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan

“Edugyan delivers a novel that is brimming with atmosphere, is hauntingly written and will really move you (this book, clichéd as it sounds, really kicked me in the emotional guts) and it stays with you long after you read it. I am late to this book; don’t let yourself be though as it is a truly marvellous read and one I am glad I returned to at just the right time.”

So there we have it. Have you read any of these and what did you think? Will these books still be in my top books of the year at, well, the end of 2012? I guess we will have to see. I know some of you have already given me your favourite books of the year so far but do please keep those recommendations coming!

14 Comments

Filed under Books of 2012

Never Mind – Edward St Aubyn

I am not a fan of ‘real life’ tragic stories, nor am I in general of their fictional counterparts. To me these tend to be a) melodramatic and b) someone making a vast amount of money out of their misery. I am sure that these people had an awful childhood and so some people may think I am a little harsh, but I don’t like a whinger. In fact moaning is one of my least favourite things on earth, nothing puts me off people faster. I mean we all have really rubbish times now and again but frankly we can either whine about them or, as I hope I do when things get cruddy, try and do something positive about them or start a new project you can throw all your negative energy at in a positive way. This is all sounding a little self-helpy but hopefully it might explain why I have always resisted the, possibly autobiographical, Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn whenever someone has heartily recommended me them (and many people have). Yet when someone compared them to Augusten Burroughs novels, which I love because of the humour in the darkest of subject matters, I decided to give them at try and so picked up ‘Never Mind’.

Picador Books, paperback, originally published 1992 (reprinted 2012), fiction, 197 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

I always admire an author who can write beautifully and simply, an author who can create the most understated of melodramas will win me over. I also always admire an author who can write a passage that chills you before one that makes you laugh out loud and then another which horrifies you all over again. All these things are encompassed in Edward St Aubyn’s first Patrick Melrose novel ‘Never Mind’. I say that this is the first Patrick Melrose novel and yet Patrick is not really the focus of this book, it is his father David who we encounter most as we witness the Melrose family having guests for a weekend to their house in Provence.

The set up of ‘Never Mind’ is beguilingly simple at the start, we join the Melrose’s over an initially none descript weekend where guests are visiting. As we read on we soon learn that there is much more going on behind this family facade than we think, and it’s dark. We have a very dysfunctional family in the Melrose’s; fiver year old Patrick is a slightly fearful boy, who will be all the more fearful by the end of the book,  and somewhat a loner, his mother, Eleanor, is an alcoholic and quite possibly due to her husband, David, who married her for money, is a vicious cruel man who I would describe as psychopathic as when he needs to be (or when he wants to be) switches on the charm and has his guests enraptured, or so he likes to think.

“He knew that his unkindness to Eleanor was effective only if he alternated it with displays of concern and elaborate apologies for his destructive nature, but he had abandoned these variations because his disappointment in her was boundless. He knew that she could not help him unravel the knot of inarticulacy that he carried inside him. Instead, he could feel it tightening, like a promise of suffocation that shadowed every breath he took.”

I did for a while start to ask myself the question of ‘why are the guests visiting, why does St Aubyn want them there’ I couldn’t see the relevance as I thought the story was about an evil man abusing his wife and eventually his own child. As I read on however, I realised St Aubyn not only wanted to talk about class through this bunch of rather vile characters but he also cleverly uses the couples (Victor Eisen and Anne Moore, Nicholas Pratt and Bridget Watson-Scott) to give us their thoughts on the other characters both from what they know of them and what they observe throughout their time together. Anne being the most normal of the lot even spots there is something dark lurking in the Melrose atmosphere, Bridget just made me laugh at her blunt selfish nature.

“The thing about Nicholas was that he really was rich and beautiful and he was a baronet, which was nice and sort of Jane Austeny. Still, it wouldn’t be long before people started saying ‘You can tell he used to be good looking,’ and someone else would intervene charitably with, ‘Oh no, he still is.’ In the end she would probably marry him and she would be the fourth Lady Pratt. Then she could divorce him and get half a million pounds, or whatever, and keep Barry as her sex slave and still call herself Lady Pratt in shops. God, sometimes she was so cynical it was frightening.”

It is in fact Bridget that really brings the humour into the novel, because of her thoughts and observations, yet she also adds to the element of discomfort. Some authors use humour to lighten a novel, St Aubyn does it almost to highlight the real depths of the darkness, there is a sense of relief when you laugh out loud, but its shortlived and you know something darker will follow. The scenes around their welcoming drinks where Bridget knows just how David has made Eleanor get rid of the fallen figs from the tree, and then comments on how many figs must be wasted, are so uncomfortable you read on transfixed, rather like how you can’t help but stare at a car crash. The dinner table conversations also read like extreme dark frosty comedy of manners pieces, the humour adds to the darkness rather than detracts from it if you get my drift. It’s not something I have come across before in a book that I can think of and it’s stayed with me.

I don’t want to talk about the moment of utter darkness in the book in too much detail, not because I shy away from the uncomfortable subject of child abuse but because I think you need to read it without knowing when it’s going to happen, or how St Aubyn writes it so understatedly, for it to really have the desired effect and leave you winded. Like the whole book it’s economical and therefore only hits you harder. It seems odd, and a cliché, to call ‘Never Mind’ a masterpiece especially with some of its subject matter but really there is no other word for it. To quote Maggie O’Farrell, as she puts it so well, this novel is ‘At once epic and intimate, appalling and comic’ and that is exactly how I felt when I had finished ‘Never Mind’. Recommend seems the wrong word, but I would suggest everyone gives this book a try, I will certainly be reading the rest of the series without a doubt.

12 Comments

Filed under Books of 2012, Edward St Aubyn, Patrick Melrose Novels, Picador Books, Review

June’s Incomings…

Yes yet another month has flown by and it’s that time when I ask for you thoughts on the books that have come through the letterbox, or snuck in hidden in my bag etc. I was thinking that it wasn’t such a bumper month and then remembered that I had been sent the TV book club titles (I’ve had to give up on ‘Moonlight Mile’ it’s just not me) then there are the Penguins I rescued and the Daphne Du Maurier discovery, oops.

So what paperbacks have come through the door?

  • My Michael by Amos Oz – unsolicited copy, but one that I am glad has arrived as I haven’t read any Amos Oz and would like to (I seem to have lots of his books) has anyone any recommendations on Oz?
  • The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Saramago?
  • Charles Jessold Considered a Murderer by Wesley Stace – an unsolicited copy of a book that looks right up my street with its gothic murderous tones. I once started Stace’s ‘Misfortune’ and really liked it but left it on a train, got another copy but haven’t picked it up again, I must.
  • Butterfly’s Shadow by Lee Langley – unsolicited copy
  • Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling – after reading ‘The Proof of Love’ by Catherine Hall and loving it so much I have been hankering after more of the ‘Fiction Uncovered’ titles. This is one.
  • Conditions of Faith by Alex Miller – this will learn me the publishers emailed me very nicely about this book, I said yes… thinking it was another book. I thought it was ‘Pure’ by Andrew Miller, oops. Never mind though, I will enjoy it none the less, well I hope I will.
  • The Reckoning by Jane Casey – unsolicited copy, and the second in the series, how annoying as it looks really good, but I like to start at the beginning.
  • The Empty Family by Colm Toibin – I am in the mood for short stories and I love Toibin so this will be read soon, also a GCP submission.
  • Days of Grace by Catherine Hall – Thrilled this has come, it seems Catherine’s publisher, editor and Catherine herself really liked how much I loved ‘The Proof of Love’ (am I stuck record about this book yet) and so her now debut novel has arrived.
  • The Skating Rink by Robert Bolano – another unsolicited copy of an author I really should read, any tips with Bolano?
  • Some Hope/Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn – I asked you all if I should read him, and his publishers spotted this and so sent me all of the books you can see ‘At Last’ below. Very excited about this series, have been dipping into ‘Some Hope’ and its proving emotional and incredible.
  • Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay – I haven’t read any Jackie Kay but have always wanted to, also a GCP submission.
  • The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugall – This arrived and with it came guilt because I know so many people who have told me to read ‘The Woman Before Me’ and I have it and still haven’t… I will though.

Next up is those hardback and trade paperbacks lots of which I am very, very excited about…

  • The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I liked his last young adult book ‘The Shadow in the Mist’ for its creepiness, I am hoping this one has the same feel to it. Ooh, I still havent read ‘The Angels Game’, what am I playing at?
  • The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb – interesting title and stunning cover, I think this is one of the books I am going to be reading next as it seems to have been ‘under the radar’ and I am after more books like that. Plus it’s another GCP submission.
  • Night Waking by Sarah Moss – I have already read this one; it’s another ‘Fiction Uncovered’ title and its one that will be getting lots of praise in due course. Its still got me thinking hence no sooner review.
  • The London Satyr by Robert Edric – I didn’t get on with ‘Salvage’ but this novel based in the Victorian underbelly, well that’s the gist I have got, sounds right up my street and is again part of ‘Fiction Uncovered’.
  • Rory’s Boys by Alan Clark – this comes almost screaming its praise from Sue Townsend, a GCP submission.
  • At Last by Edward St Aubyn – the whole series arrived, see above
  • Five Bells by Gail Jones – I saw Kimbofo’s review of this and so had to get my mitts on a copy. It sounds very much like my sort of book.
  • By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham – this will be my first Cunningham read and I am very much looking forward to it.
  • History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason – another book I know little about, though I think the authors debut was one everyone was talking about, a GCP submission.
  • Gypsy Boy on the Run by Mikey Walsh – unsolicited copy which I don’t know why the publishers sent me, as Hodder generally don’t, maybe it’s because it’s a novel about a gay man? Who knows.
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith – I read Bob Smith’s column/essay collection years ago so am thrilled this arrived, it’s a GCP submission.
  • Fold by Tom Campbell – unsolicited proof, I am going to look into this one a little more as initially its not sounding like my sort of thing.
  • All The Time in the World by E. L. Doctorow – I loved ‘Homer and Langley’ so much when I read it that I am really looking forward to this novel about a stranger coming into someone’s family and relationships and changing everything.
  • The Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block – I still haven’t read his debut novel, I saw how much Rachel Booksnob loved this book and so was thrilled when it arrived.
  • The Watchers by Jon Steele – I asked for this one as I am was in the mood for trying something different, I am looking forward to this one a lot as it sounds a bit apocalyptic and supernatural and rather page turning, perfect summer read.
  • The Somnambulist by Essie Fox – set in the Victorian era and rather spooky sounding, how could I not want to read this?
  • Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante – I am wondering if Alice is any relation of Linda? This sounds like it’s a gripping and rather emotionally packed crime, I am loving crime fiction this year so this is an unsolicited copy I am looking forward to.
  • The Hunger Trace by Edward Hogan – Thanks to @Foyles who mentioned to S&S the publishers that I really liked Hogan’s debut ‘Blackmoor’ (reading that review shows how much my attitude to blogging has changed, ha) and Hogan is a fellow lad from Derbyshire so that adds to it.
  • Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman – This has caused some controversy I believe as a book a s a tribute to the authors dead wife, can’t seem to find much more out about it than that, has anyone else heard the furore about this?
  • Ashes by Sergios Gakas – now this will be a first, a crime/thriller by a Greek author. A book I will therefore have to give to my Greece-obsessed mother once I have finished it, not sure how she will react to all the cocaine binges that it has in store though.

Blimey typing all those books up actually makes me realise that there were a lot more than I realised, if that wasn’t enough I also received some gifts from friends and then went and bought myself some treats.

  • Read This Next… And Discover 500 New Favourite Books by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark – I saw this on Chasing Bawa, she has now reviewed it, and thought it sounded right up my street, so what a surprise when it arrived in the post as a gift from the lovely Sakura herself.
  • The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley/BUtterfield 8 by John O’Hara – Kimbofo sent me both of these as she knows I live on a Claremont related road and also I work in the publishing industry, plus I loved the sound of it from her review. She also sent me the Riverside Readers last read, it sounded amazing and I was gutted that I missed out on it (I miss that book group so much – I am wondering if they would let me join in virtually?) and now I can give it a whirl.
  • The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor – I have wanted this forever and found it for a whopping 50p in Cambridge, Susan Hill raves about this book which makes me want to read it even more, I think it might be out of print now.
  • Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen – Kimbofo has a lot to answer for actually, her review of this crime thriller made me subconsciously pop it in my trolley at the supermarket. It wasn’t my fault honest… and I know, I know supermarket book buying is sent from the devil.
  • Fidelity by Susan Glaspell – I found this Persephone classic in a new very well hidden local charity shop for a whopping 30p, I know a Persephone for 30p. No idea if it’s good or not, but that didn’t matter at the time… it was 30p!

There that’s my loot this month, what lovely stuff have you had of late? Which of the above have you read and loved? Which would you like to see me reading next?

19 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Fiction Uncovered

Fiction Uncovered… Where To Find The Hidden Gems?

I am tempted not to do another post, remember most of these posts are scheduled, and to leave my review of  Catherine Hall’s The Proof of Love’ as as the latest post for ages because I am so desperate to get you all to read the book, but at the same time it has brought up a question that I thought I would ask as a smallish post, before reminding you again that really you need to read ‘The Proof of Love’. Are any of you picking up any subliminal messages yet?

Anyway, I was thinking about this book and the ‘Fiction Uncovered’ initiative and wondered where you all find those books that take you by surprise, those hidden gem books? I am talking about those books you randomly find or hear about that don’t feature in the broadsheets or in TV/radio book clubs etc. Not to be confused with forgotten classics by the way. In fact that puts it best, where do you find lost/under the radar modern fiction?

I include myself in the above rather naughtily. I know I am likely to stick to certain genres and well known (to me) authors, and am more likely to try other well known (to bloggers and broadsheets) authors – I have an Ali Smith review scheduled for tomorrow and you can see I am reading both Alan Hollinghurst and Edward St Aubyn at the moment there ——-> the first an author I know I like a lot, the second I have heard lots about from bloggers et al. Neither of these need further publicity do they? Or should that not be the point, aren’t they well known for writing so well? Should I not be trying to discover more unknown modern novels to share with you all? I’m not getting all naval gazing, but its making me think a lot.

‘The Proof of Love’ has highlighted all those authors, on their second, third, fifth or tenth books yet not household names, that I am sure I am missing out on (it can lead to a headache thinking like that) and how I could find more? So I thought I would ask all of you where you hear of yours, and even better share the books that have been brilliant reads and yet have fallen somewhat under the radar. What can you suggest, both the books that I should have read but might not have and where you find these delights?

30 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Fiction Uncovered

Help! Those 3 For 2’s…

I am sure it’s the same for any book lover but aren’t those 3 for 2 book offers that they have in book shops just so tempting. I have to say of late I have been rather incapacitated in terms of getting to many but whenever I have I am sooo tempted, regardless of how many books I have in my house to get more. They are just sent to tempt you aren’t they? Does anyone take pictures of the books that they see in them to find out more about later? Or is that just me? Anyway I wondered if we could all share what three books we would most love to read at the moment, as it might also help my aunty out, which you are always so good at.

I currently have about six titles on my most wanted list but if I currently had to choose any three books that I would get in such an offer it has to be the following…

  

The first is a hardback which naturally means it wouldn’t be in any of these book shop offers but it’s my game so my rules. On the odd occasion I have made it to a book shop it has been ‘The Hypnotist’ by Lars Kelper that has caught my eye because of the spooky cover. The fact it’s meant to be ‘riddled with irresistible, nail-biting suspense, this first-class Scandinavian thriller is one of the best I’ve ever read’ also adds to its allure. The next is the fault of Karen of Cornflower Books who mentioned the novels chosen for ‘Fiction Uncovered’. My initial response to the list of 8 chosen titles was ‘oh no not another list of books which I want to read every single one of’, because actually I do. However ‘Forgetting Zoe’ by Ray Robinson is a book that sticks out as ‘the dark, unflinching tale of ten-year-old Zoe, abducted and imprisoned after a chance encounter’ sounds short and rather disturbing. Finally, there is ‘Some Hope’ by Edward St Aubyn who I asked you all about last week. I want to start his series at the beginning and this one is the three first stories in one volume.

So what does this all have to do with my aunt? Well she asked a while back, and I then forgot, what books she should download for her Kindle (don’t say it) while she goes to Italy shortly and I was a bit stumped. I have given her a spare copy of ‘Trick of the Dark’ by Val McDermid which she loved, and I know she likes the Kate Atkinson ‘crime-lit’ (not my phrase) novels, but she wants to try ‘a few different things’ can you help?

So what would your current ideal 3 for 2 be? In fact maybe by sharing your three most wanted books, and why, at the moment would not only be a fun post but one she could have a meander through? I know you’ll come up with some corkers, and would be interesting to see if any books have caught all our eyes. Go on, have a go.

14 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts

Do I Want To Read… Memoirs, Of A Kind?

I haven’t done a ‘Do I Want To Read’ post for ages and yet I think there are about ten or twenty books whizzing about my brain that I would like to your thoughts on, alas with everything else going on they come into my mind and then are soon forgotten. I bet as soon as this post has gone up I will be kicking myself that I didn’t mention some other titles. Anyway, today I thought we would deal with two books which have a link of sorts for one is a memoir and the other a fictional work that’s very much based on the authors personal life, well as far as I can gather. So I am hoping some of you will have read either or these or have heard things about them that you can pass on and help me form an opinion of whether I do or don’t actually want to get my mitts on them.

I have seen huge posters for Margaux Fragoso’s memoir ‘Tiger, Tiger’ here there and everywhere in my travels from home to town or home to hospital. It wasn’t until Louise mentioned it in the comments of another post and said “I recently read Tiger, Tiger… I don’t usually read that type of thing, but I couldn’t not read it, most unsettling” so naturally my interest was piqued, though when I saw the blurb, during a browse of Waterstones, I was rather shocked…

“I still think about Peter, the man I loved most in the world, all the time. At two in the afternoon, when he would come and pick me up and take me for rides; at five, when I would read to him, head on his chest; in the despair at seven p.m., when he would hold me and rub my belly for an hour; in the despair again at nine p.m. when we would go for a night ride, down to the Royal Cliffs Diner in Englewood Cliffs where I would buy a cup of coffee with precisely seven sugars and a lot of cream. We were friends, soul mates and lovers. I was seven. He was fifty-one.”

I instantly wanted to hate the book, yet thought I should put my prejudices to one side and maybe try the prologue. I don’t know if it was the honesty, or the quality of the writing (though I have heard people say it’s written appallingly, each to their own) or the car crash element of it but I read the prologue and could have carried on. I had to leave, and something stopped me from actually buying the book. I didn’t know if it was tasteful or not and to be honest I still don’t yet something makes me want to read on, is that bad?

The second of the books I have been mulling over is actually the last of a series, so maybe the question is do I want to read this series? The book I am talking about, and have started seeing lots of reviews of it popping up here and there is ‘At Last’ by Edward St. Aubyn. Here’s the blurb…

“For Patrick Melrose, ‘family’ is more than a double-edged sword. As friends, relations and foes trickle in to pay final respects to his mother, Eleanor – an heiress who forsook the grandeur of her upbringing for ‘good works’, freely bestowed upon everyone but her own child – Patrick finds that his transition to orphanhood isn’t necessarily the liberation he had so long imagined. Yet as the service ends and the family gather for a final party, as conversations are overheard, danced around and concertedly avoided, amidst the social niceties and the social horrors, the calms and the rapids, Patrick begins to sense a new current. And at the end of the day, alone in his rooftop bedsit, it seems to promise some form of safety, at last. One of the most powerful reflections on pain and acceptance, and the treacheries of family, ever written, “At Last” is the brilliant culmination of the Melrose books. It is a masterpiece of glittering dark comedy and profound emotional truth.”

I had heard this series was based on his own past which included being raped by his father, drug abuse and possible suicide. My initial thoughts were ‘oh not another Dave Pelzer’, sorry if people love him but how much money many books can someone write out of their own misery, it even sparked the ‘life tragedies’ genre in certain book stores. However one of the previous novels in the series ‘Mother’s Milk’ was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2006 which leads me to believe they must be very well written, I also heard him on Open Book with Mariella Frostrup and found him rather interesting to listen to and the fact a book based around death and abuse had had Mariella laughing. I’m wondering if I have been missing out on this author and series, have any of you tried him?

Any thoughts on either of these books or the authors?

14 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Do I Want To Read?