Mid-way through Garth Greenwell’s debut novel comes a single paragraph that lasts for 40 pages.
Ordinarily, this kind of roadblock would slow my progress to a crawl. I like regular chapter breaks and the duelling rhythm of description and dialogue and the way the white space of a page helps you breathe. Continue reading “Book 21: What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell”
Sunil Yapa’s debut novel takes place across a single day: the day of the explosive 1999 protest-cum-riot that shut down the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle.
You might expect it then to be fast-paced and action-packed, a gut punch of violence and colliding ideologies. Sadly, it’s a bit of a slog.
Continue reading “Book 20: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa”
In his 2011 Booker Prize-winning novel The Sense of an Ending, British author Julian Barnes told a beautiful but very British story of secrets and suicide among school friends, set in 1960s and then present day England.
It wasn’t a straightforward novel, exactly – in fact it had a twist ending not normally associated with such earnest literary fiction. But it was nonetheless a novel of recognisable places and relatable characters.
Barnes’ new book, The Noise of Time, is a rather more esoteric proposition. Based on the life of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, it’s a remarkably Russian book – though mercifully shorter and less populated than most – about the corrosive effect that Power (capitalised, as Barnes styles it) can have on art and creativity. Continue reading “Book 19: The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes”
I’d never really encountered Elizabeth Strout’s work until I saw the HBO adaptation of Olive Kitteridge last year.
It was a fantastic miniseries underpinned by great characters – memorable, complicated, flawed, real – and stunning writing. Even on the screen, Strout’s incredible talent shone through and I knew then I had to read her books. Continue reading “Book 18: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout”
A Korean woman stops eating meat. Not, you might think, a particularly compelling premise for a novel.
But in Han Kang’s masterful novel it signals the beginning of a dark and disturbing descent into misery and madness.
Continue reading “Book 17: The Vegetarian by Han Kang”
“Survival is insufficient,” says one of Station Eleven’s characters – quoting an old Star Trek Voyager episode – about a third of the way through Emily St. John’s excellent post-apocalyptic novel. It’s a key theme. Continue reading “Book 16: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel”
I picked up Carrie Brownstein’s memoir because I love her work on Portlandia, one of the funniest shows on TV, rather than her musical work as one-third of punk band Sleater-Kinney.
Turns out the whole book is about Sleater-Kinney. Continue reading “Book 15: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein”