Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?


Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

Good news from JayZed, who has been rereading Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss:

I thought I should check and see whether it really is as brilliant as I thought it was on first reading. Reader, it is. As is so often the way with rereading, I found it even more impactful second time around, and felt really quite shaken and upset as the story reached its climax.

Nothing surprising here for those who love Uncle Don’s work, but it’s extraordinary. Every single line of his prose is like a crystal, in terms of its beauty, purity, and design perfection. Reading him almost literally makes you high, his sentences are that brilliant.

A lovely flow of consciousness from the grand old man of American poetry. It takes a little getting used to but once you surrender to it, it sweeps the reader along. Such a nice respite from the current news, that’s for sure!

It’s the eye-popping story of how John DeLorean (acclaimed American car engineer, experienced corporate manager, charismatic showman and hustler-in-waiting) realises his dream of making a stylish, affordable (it was to retail at $12,000) sports car for the American market.

Patterson does a remarkable job of taking the mass of raw material and shaping it into a proper novel. Real life characters mix with invented characters so well that you can’t see the join… There is also no grand tone. It’s not polemical, farcical or, thank the lord, earnestly outraged. Having shaped his narrative, Patterson lets the story speak for itself and it is the reader who will feel outrage, disbelief, hilarity as she works through the novel.

[It] is the sequel to Children of Time, which was (some spoilers) a story about a spider civilisation, accidentally created, and what happens when they come into contact with their inadvertent human creators.

The book (so far) has a similar structure as the earlier one, with separate storylines which will presumably unite at the end. In one thread, human engineers discover that the planet they have been sent to terraform is already teeming with life. In the other, a joint human-spider expedition encounters strange aliens. There’s a lot of good stuff about how the humans and spiders attempt to communicate more effectively with one another, and the difficulties of communicating at all with entirely alien species. Enjoyable “sense of wonder” SF.

I know that the title is enough to put some off, but I’d highly recommend it not just as a microcosm of Soviet society, but as a wise and perceptive encapsulation of the contemporary human condition, warts and all. The protagonist, Kostoglotov, remains a hero of mine. The bravery of standing up for decency when surrounded by chicanery, deceit and toadyism strikes a particular chord in these dystopian times.

It’s an extremely well researched book yet written in an easily understood style. It covers all of the Americas, north, central and south, and paints a startling picture of complex highly populated nations with cities, cultures and histories at least as sophisticated as those in the old world, and their remarkable impact on their environments. Be prepared to have all your assumptions about native Indian life completely turned upside down!

It is a fascinating book. Her writing is witty and honest. There are points where you want to shout “just leave him” but when we’re young we don’t usually have that perspective. When I read On the Road, Cassady struck me as someone who’d annoy the hell out of me. Reading his wife’s account of life with him, I still think so.

Writers are more productive when they cluster.

Erica Eisen on Samizdat: “I imagine the book’s maker sitting bent over their desk, carefully redoing each full stop, comma, accent and háček one by one, for the benefit of future readers they would never meet.”

The Tale of Genji—what is it?

James Ellroy reads “at night. When the world quiets down. When the hell hounds of my imagination stir in my bed beside me and grant me a few hours of repose.”

Sophie’s Choice is the perfect summer read, according to Emma Copley Eisenberg.

Continue reading…



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