Book 7: Room by Emma Donoghue

The odds were stacked against Room; I really didn’t think I’d like it.

A novel set entirely in a single room sounded like a grind and the mother/son relationship at its core inevitably¬†sappy and sentimental. The five year-old narrator sounded like a gimmick and the real-life Josef Frtizl connection seemed cheap and exploitative. Continue reading “Book 7: Room by Emma Donoghue”

Book 6: The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson

The Bird’s Nest tells the story of Elizabeth, Beth, Bess and Betsy, four women with something in common – they’re all the same person.

I love Shirley Jackson – the Haunting of Hill House is one of my favourite novels – but this multiple-personality drama isn’t her best work. Continue reading “Book 6: The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson”

Risky business

Whenever a movie bombs big time at the box office I simply can’t resist seeing it.

47 Ronin, John Carter, Jupiter Ascending, all the way back to Cutthroat Island and Waterworld – none of them are great films but they’re fascinating cultural artifacts.

I mean, how does it happen? How do the (mostly) talented and experienced people of the most sophisticated creative industry in human history blow hundreds of millions making a movie no one wants to see?

Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire is the literary equivalent of a box office flop – so naturally I just had to pick it up. Continue reading “Risky business”

Give me back my bookshop

Far be it from me to bemoan the infantalisation of Western culture – I spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games and watching superhero spectacles after all.

But what the hell? Adult colouring books.

This is a picture of my nearest bookstore, a Dymocks that once had a decent enough range. Continue reading “Give me back my bookshop”

Book 4: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

A lot of people have compared Fates and Furies to Gone Girl and if that helps it sell a squillion copies, great – because Lauren Groff’s third novel deserves nothing less.

Personally, I think the comparison is spurious. While similar in structure – the book is split into two parts, telling the story of a marriage first from his perspective and then from hers – this is a far superior novel, a major work of literary fiction that announces Groff as one of America’s finest young novelists. Continue reading “Book 4: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff”