Saturday, 24 July 2010

'Simon's Choice' by Charlotte Castle

Simon's ChoiceSimon's Choice by Charlotte Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The topic of a seven year old child dying of leukemia could have come across almost as insufferably as the fictional tragedy itself, but in Ms. Castle's hands it doesn't. It comes over exceptionally powerfully, warmly, movingly, provocatively, inevitably.

There were times I could have hugged the characters and others when I could have thrown a very sharp plate at Melissa, which means that this book probably works just as well for men as for women.

This is a really involving book which is as much about the stresses and strains of modern marriage as it is about the suffering of a dying child.

It also reminded me of Winston Churchill's famous quip when a woman MP came up to him and said "Mr. Churchill, if I were your wife I would poison your food," to which Winnie replied "Ah yes, Madam, and if I were your husband I would eat it".

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Friday, 23 July 2010

Descending by Catherine Chisnall

DescendingDescending by Catherine Chisnall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catherine Chisnall's 'Descending' is one of those books which it is easier simply to read than to read reviews about.

It is about a low key love affair, an aberration, a few days in a life which might change everything or nothing.

It is about the role of a support teacher and how she fits into a male dominated classroom. It is about how pupils play games with teachers and about how the management of any institution plays those same games but in a more self-righteous and pompous way.

This is the tale of a minor transgression that says so much about how we politic to puff ourselves up and to put others down.

It is a very quiet and powerful book.

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Monday, 19 July 2010

The Old Man & The Monkey

The Old Man & The MonkeyThe Old Man & The Monkey by George Polley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really, really beautiful tale of friendship across races - quite a long way across races, given it is between an old man and a Japanese snow monkey.

Snow monkeys are considered pests. Old men can be pests too, especially on the roads, so perhaps they have more in common than you might at first imagine.

The old man's wife and the villagers fear an infestation of snow monkeys in their village, as if they hadn't infested it first away from the snow monkeys.

It is a wise story. Legendary.

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Get Some

Get SomeGet Some by Daniel Birch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of Danny Birch and this is a great book, better even than his 'Clipped'.

This tale of persecution and revenge has excellent female characters too.

It just fires along. You could even say it rocks.

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Buenos Aires: a train ride over the rainbow

'Buenos Aires: A Train Ride Over the Rainbow' by Paul Perry

***** (five stars)

There is that saying "Some people drink to remember, others drink to forget".

I think that travel is like that too.

Paul Perry travelled to forget Philadelphia and in search of the Land of Oz - not Oz as in Australia, but his personal Land of Oz as in Argentina.

Well, from the look of his poetry it sure ain't paradise for him. Which is our gain. Happiness makes for lousy music and for pretty bad poetry too.

This misery is very immediate and evocative - quotable too.

Little Guide to Unhip

Little Guide to UnhipLittle Guide to Unhip by Kate Rigby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was obvious from the beginning that this book was going to be a laugh.

It was obvious from near the beginning that it was also going to be an assault course - could I jump over the hurdle of every chapter unscathed?

Gilbert O'Sullivan - no worries there
Elasticated waists - not my fault
Morris dancers - you jest
Austria - don't care if I don't go there again

And triumphantly on until 'TIM' - Tim? Yeah, Tim is one of the unhippest names in the universe according to Kate Rigby. I lost it at birth or soon after.

Now I am too ashamed to stand in a pub next to a Morris dancer. He is a better man than me.

Take the test; feel the humiliation.

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The Eye of Erasmus

The Eye of Erasmus: Erasmus the OmnipotentThe Eye of Erasmus: Erasmus the Omnipotent by Teresa Geering

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a real shaggy dog story of a book. You just get sucked in by the writing. Is it going anywhere? Who knows? Who cares? The journey is so mesmerising.

Is there a punchline?

There is.

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Quick review of Monday Afternoon by Steve Sangirardi

Monday AfternoonMonday Afternoon by Stephen Sangirardi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A really intense tale of a love affair. The first section grabs you by the throat as you remember what it was like to fall in love during those first few breathtaking hours, and then there is the hangover. Great book

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