Saturday, September 20, 2014

Recent Reads

Thought I'd share my thoughts on a few books I've read recently.

Any Other Mouth by Anneliese Mackintosh

Published by Freight Books, this was recommended to me by a couple of people on Twitter. It's a stunning collection of short stories, which can be read individually or as a complete work. It's an incredibly brave book by Anneliese Mackintosh, as the stories are clearly based on her own personal experiences. Dealing with subjects like bereavement, sex, and difficult relationships, it is at the same time, hilarious, heartbreaking, thought provoking and brutally honest. It reminded me a little of Legend of a Suicide, as I found myself wondering whether it was written as a way for the author to exorcise their feelings. Please, if you get the chance read this book.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Another recommendation, this time from one of our customers, this is a coming of age story set in a Californian ranch.
Ten year old Jody is the central character in each the four stories in the book and in them we watch as he takes on and learns the responsibilities of adulthood. A cracking read. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This has got lots of hype this year and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. There are some lovely moments in the book and a very interesting twist, which I won't spoil. I enjoyed the voice of Rosemary, the narrator, who is now at college and looking back to her childhood, growing up with her twin sister and older brother. The story revolves around the time, when Rosemary was five and is sent away to her grandparents. When she returns, her sister Fern is no longer there.

OK, it's good, but it didn't quite convince me. I can understand why people are raving about it, but not me. 

He Wants by Alison Moore  

This is a book i'd been really looking forward to reading. Alison Moore is the author of The Lighthouse, which I reviewed (quite badly) HERE.

He Wants is the story of Lewis Sullivan, a retired teacher who has lived a life of routine and order. But this all begins to unravel when someone from his past turns up. Flicking back and forth through Lewis' life, the tension slowly builds and builds, as a series of events never allow the reader to know exactly where the story will go. 

There is nothing of Alison Moore's that I haven't loved. Her short stories are mini classics and the two novels  are an absolute masterclass in pacing 

Et Tu Babe by Mark Leyner

Ah, this is my favourite author, and it's the third time i've read this. Mark Leyner writes like nobody else. This is the follow up to his first novel, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, which was raved about when it first came out in the early 90s (i think).

This book is a parody biography of his life after the global success of "My Cousin...", where he lives a life of deluded megalomania, surrounded by Team Leyner, a group dedicated to ensure that his every whim is catered for. If you haven't read any Leyner, imagine a nonstop energy burst of spectacular stream of literary  consciousness. This is writing without a safety net. It's an outrageous carnival of imagination and I have no idea how he does it. 
I reviewed another of Mark's books The Sugar Frosted Nutsack HERE  

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