Saturday, 18 April 2015

Boy, Snow, Bird

(April 2015)

This is a beautiful book, both in terms of the cover (it’s even better in reality than on the screen) and the contents. Based on this it’s very easy to see why Oyeyemi has been lauded as one of the best British writers of her generation. It’s not quite a masterpiece though. The first 90% is outstanding, but I’m still not quite sure what happened at the very end, or how I should deal with it. That shouldn’t detract from the rest of the book but somehow, y’know…

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Lust, Caution

(April 2015)

I need to read more of this kind of stuff: mid-twentieth century writing by vaguely dissolute women. Of course, all that most female writers from that era needed to do to gain a ‘vaguely dissolute’ reputation was to speak their minds and openly enjoy something other than childcare or macramé, but on the occasions I do read them they seem infinitely more contemporary to the present day than male writers of the same period. I’d be the first to admit that my sample sizes for both populations are pitifully small, but there’s something to be said for the theory that in order to compete with the men women had* to be better than them. Clearly this was grotesquely unfair, but as a reader it does mean that you get access to books that are, well, better.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Race

(March 2015)

I came into this book almost completely blind, buying it simply on the back of its appearance on this year’s shortlists for both The Kitschies and the BSFA Awards and the reasonable cost of the ebook edition (price-point matters, kids!). I think I lucked out massively in this regard, because the less you know about this going in the better. However, it’s almost impossible to talk about without spoilers, so why don’t you track yourself down a copy and come back once you’ve had a chance to read? There are dogs in it, if that helps.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

She Weeps Each Time You’re Born

(March 2015)

This is very good. The obvious point of comparison is Midnight’s Children, in that it’s also a magical realist novel in which a mystical child offers a prism through which to view the inevitably traumatic business of colonial separation and the ensuing intranational turmoil of independence, but in Vietnam and not India and, well… Better.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Friday, 6 March 2015

A Cunning Plan


Unexpurgated minutes there from the most recent meeting of Prime Minister Abe’s Senior Advisory Panel.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Elements of Eloquence

(February 2015)

A pleasingly concise and accessible catalogue of rhetorical figures. While occasionally slightly too pleased with itself in the way that only expensively educated Englishmen of a certain age (and the texts they produce) can be, its underlying message that anyone can be taught to produce a decent turn of phrase is something I can definitely get behind. Would make a nice twofer with You Talkin’ to Me? as a starter set on oratory and persuasion. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

(February 2015)

I really think that Yiyun Li might be my favourite short story writer, and it’s not like that’s a field where competition is thin on the ground. As with Gold Boy, Emerald Girl I find myself fruitlessly casting around for something intelligent to say in order to express just how good this is, and failing utterly. GB,EG might just shade it, to be honest, but that’s such a high bar that even coming close enough to fall short is a significant achievement.

Friday, 20 February 2015

After Me Comes the Flood

(February 2015)

Starts strong but fades a little, though is all the while executed in the most beautifully, transparently opaque prose, which is a ridiculous oxymoron but I can’t think of anything more apt. I know what I mean.