Tag Archives: Nick Alexander

13:55 Eastern Standard Time – Nick Alexander

I am sometimes really rubbish at reading books that people tell me to, or in the case of ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ by Nick Alexander a book which a friend (the lovely Dom who shares a slight Mitford obsession with me) thrust their copy of it in my direction after going on and on about how wonderful it was and I didn’t read and had to give it back when I moved. I hadn’t thought about the book since if I am honest, oops. Yet when I was stuck in my slight reading funk, which I think I glossed over, I saw a copy in the library and thought ‘ooh why not’ and so took it home… and really enjoyed it.

BIGfib Books, paperback, 2007, fiction, 156 pages, from the library

I would describe ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ as a series of snippets of peoples lives, basically very, very short stories like snapshots. All these characters interlink and yet they have no idea that they do, and sometimes you as the reader have to wait a little while for the connection to make sense. That’s not a criticism as actually I rather liked feeling clever when I joined the dots and started to reveal the fuller picture. There are some characters who return as these stories progress and in the main we follow Alice who as we meet her has moved to The Big Apple looking for a change, and a fresh start yet on the day we meet her she makes her first new possible friend and looses one of the dearest people to her. It’s the butterfly effect of these two incidents, actually sparked by one in China in the opening story ‘OK Sticker’, which we follow.

I am aware that probably doesn’t sell the book well enough but because every story is such a snap shot it would be hard for me to write too much in detail. I can say that we go to Germany, England, America, China, from the busiest cities to the wilderness of the outback, from chance meetings in Apple stores (Alexander’s description of the Apple store had me in hysterics, its very, very true to life) and gay sex bars and the perfect home life’s to the lonely existence of a bed-sit. In many ways you could say that not only does ’13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ covers life in the modern world. I am aware that sounds grand but these people are from all walks of life, all ages and sexualities, some poor some verging on celebrity, and at pivotal points in their lives both good and bad.  

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘13:55 Eastern Standard Time’ and read it rather greedily in one sitting. I wanted to know where the ripples of events and actions would lead me next and Alexander does very cleverly, and not in a clichéd way, make the whole collage of these lives and characters come full circle. I laughed, was rather shocked (sometimes if you peak into the private lives of people you need to remember you might learn or see more than you bargained for) and also incredibly moved in parts, in fact very like the characters created by Alexander in this book I went through the emotional spectrum and couldn’t put it down.

I am not sure I would have picked this book up without the recommendation (and eventual and rather tardy follow up of said recommendation) from my good friend, Dom so to him I owe huge thanks. What was the last book you were recommended by a friend you didn’t think would be your cup of tea and most certainly was? Has anyone read any of Nick Alexander’s other novels?

P.S I have used the Kindle edition cover of the book as its rather less garish, I didn’t read this on a Kindle.

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Filed under BIGfib Books, Nick Alexander, Review

The Long and Short Listing of It…

Over the next few weeks, and realistically probably months, things might be a little bit different at Savidge Reads. So I thought that instead of doing one of my ‘Bookish Bits’ I would instead have a natter with you about some possible forthcoming changes to service with the blog and also to ask you for some recommendations of a certain kind of reading material, because you are all always very good with helping me out.

 As you may or may not know I have helped co-found (and am now a judge of) a new book award ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ and yesterday the deadline for submissions closed. I can’t tell you exactly how many we have had as until they all arrive in the next few days I won’t be 100% sure, I can say it’s more than 20 and less than 125. We have been really surprised, and I think if we admit it out loud even a little shocked, at the response that we have had to this, people are really getting behind it, in fact we have already had already had lots of books arrive before the submissions deadline closed…

Sorry about the green shroud (which is actually one of my favourite t-shirts – no expense spared here at Savidge Reads as you can tell) but myself and the other judges have all agreed that until the winner is announced we won’t comment on any of the books that come in for the prize, even after the long list, short list and winner are announced. Whilst this is great for scheduling posts while I am in Brazil for a few months it could mean things change a bit on Savidge Reads as firstly I will be lost in a mass of books which I can’t blog about and also I am going to be dedicating much more time to reading and less to blogging. There may be some radio silence now and again too.

I do want to read some books in between submissions though and as judges we were all talking about what we might fit in. I think Lesley was going to read some crime along the way, Paul might be reading some Dr Who and his treasured Crossroads books – both of them will also be working on new books, Nick is going to be reading kids and YA fiction. I am plumping for short books, novellas, guilty pleasures and short story collections. In fact I sorted out a possible pile of them for the bedside…

  • The Only Problem by Muriel Spark (the Queen of shorter books which pack twists and punches, my Mum lent me this out of print gem)
  • The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (looks big but I will be so gripped in one of my favourite guilt free guilty pleasure it can get done and dusted in mere hours)
  • Agatha Raisin & The Love From Hell by M.C. Beaton (what can I say an Agatha Raisin mystery is always two hours of pure murder, mayhem and laughter)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (apparently this is like a collection of short Miss Marple tales, perfect)
  • In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan (another short book my mother lent me, I know nothing about this McEwan at all)
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark (another Spark that’s due back at the library quite soon)
  • A Bit of Singing & Dancing by Susan Hill (I love Susan Hill’s work but have never tried her short stories)
  • Between Us Girls by Joe Orton (another library book I picked up purely because it was by Orton, looks delightfully caustic and is also massive print so that will be a quick treat)
  • Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd (always meant to read it, now I shall try)
  • Heartburn by Norah Ephron (I was at a meeting and someone else was reading this and raving about it, plus I remember seeing some buzz about it last year or the year before on the blogosphere)
  • In Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (he’s a genius and I would like the spirit of Capote with me while I try and whittle down the submissions, he would be my dream 6th judge – well it would be a tie with him and Oscar Wilde)
  • Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood (tried and loved her shorts in Good Bones, want to read more and couldn’t locate my copy of ‘Bluebeards Egg’)
  • Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord (have renewed this far too many times from the library need to get it read)
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (this arrived in the post the other day and seemed to be great timing, never read her – or heard of her before this showed up)
  • 13.55 Eastern Standard Time by Nick Alexander (my friend Dom raved and raved about this and lent me a copy so must see if its as good as Dom said – could be awkward if not)
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (I love a good ghost story now and again and this sounds like its going to be great from the early buzz its already getting – its not even out till October!)

I have just realised I didn’t include the third Peirene Press title and some Anne Tyler, drat. The latter in particular I really need to read more of as I have loved everything I have read of hers so far and have been telling myself to read for ages.

So what do you think of that possible selection of non Green Carnation reading? Are there any titles on there you would like me to get to first? Are there any you have read and what did you think? Can you think of any other short fiction or collections that I am missing out on and must try and squeeze in my reading over the next few months? What are your reading plans at the moment?


Filed under Book Thoughts, The Green Carnation Prize