15 January 2014



Most Anticipated: The Great 2014 Book Preview (THE MILLIONS)

Tournament of Books X : The Short List

BookRiot's breakdown of the ToB

Goodreads ToB poll

07 January 2014

The People In The Trees ~ Hanya Yanagihara

*** LIKE ***

Tournament of Books : 2014

Beautiful cover enclosing beautiful writing
Contrast superbly with the ugly fictional memoir

 A piece of tropical fruit,  indulging the senses with its  lush aromas and

imaginary memoir complete with comprehensive footnotes, creates a vivid finely nuanced vision of the island nation and its primitive tribes, evocative in sight and sound,
the jungle closes in around you the deeper you explore this remote tropical island and meet its inhabitants.  Through the eyes of a scientist you explore the culture and customs
tragic consequences devestating behaviour

06 January 2014

Hill William ~ Scott McClanahan

** OK **

Tournament of Books : 2014

Sadly mesmerising
Both charms and unnerves

This is not mainstream stroytelling, certainly a road less travelled.  It is prose stripped back to bare essentials. It is full of ugliness.  You somehow feel dirty just looking in on the narrative.

The calmness of pace and language set up an inner vibration of trepidation.   It is hauntingly honest with characters that, at first, seem stereotyped, but, at their dark heart, are well crafted and intimately nuanced.  The West Virginia setting resonates.  The devastation of the local environment is mirrored in the devastation of innocence.

Hill William = hill bill(y) (As one Goodreads reviewer said "lipstick on a pig")

05 January 2014

Long Division ~ Kiese Laymon

-X NO X-

Tournament of Books : 2014

Another feather duster from the Rooster!
Vernacular is one thing; jargon another.

No written in my language.   Confusion reigns, not just because of the need-to-translate, undecipherable jargon, but the "complex" plot that, for me, wasn't successful.Love a bit of time travel, love a bit of book-within-a-book, love a bit of a challenge ... but I didn't love this!

By 50% I decided that there were better books to read and it wasn't worth punishing myself any longer!

04 January 2014

At Night We Walk In Circles ~ Daniel Alarcon

** OK **

Tournament of Books : 2014

And by day we talk in circles
Slow getting nowhere.

The narrative was drowning in words, coming up for air only to gulp more words. There was more than a little self indulgence ... oooh look ... my navel!  ... a shame, as there were some vibrant pieces of writing.  It just laboured too much as a novel.

The main character, who joins a travelling theatre company taking a politically charged play on tour, lets life lead him by the nose.  Like a tsunami, it all washed over him and sweeps him away in its dirty maelstrom.  For me the trouble was that, by the end, I sighed for him in his disastrous predicament, but that was about as much empathy as I could muster.  He was too much "merely a player" in his own destiny.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts ...

03 January 2014

The Tuner Of Silences ~ Mia Couto


Tournament of Books : 2014

Convoluted fantastical ramblings
At once fertile and barren

Only read this because it was in the Tournament of Books.  Not. For. Me. At all!!!  Magical realism is not on my reading radar.  Even the book title has been poeticised ...  in its original language it was "Jesusalém"  so why the need to make it even more obscure?

Portuguese surrealism meets African superstition.

02 January 2014

The Dinner ~ Herman Koch

*** LIKE ***

Leaves a nasty taste ...
Thoughts will linger like indigestion

The reveal is teased out over the course of dinner and along the way there are provocative thoughts on everything from inter-racial adoption to capital punishment.  The unreliable narrator guides us through the meal with his observations and opinions.

Ultimately though, it its is a book about mental illness and it pushes all the buttons to provoke disquiet with more than a touch of revulsion.   No one says you have to like the characters and in this they are just about all plain nasty!

A compact piece of storytelling.

01 January 2014

The Luminaries ~ Eleanor Catton

***** FAVOURITE *****

 Winner : 2013 Booker Prize
ToB X : 2014

Wherein the author weaves a tale of dastardly behaviours, lost fortunes and fallen women.  History and location colour the very fibers of the story and the reader is wrapped in complexities as the timeline unravels.

This is a masterful storyteller, an artisan of the woven word.  The language is rich, slightly archaic, highly descriptive. The writing is stylish and unusual.  The plot meanders as the intricate timeline unravels, giving us not just one storyline but many, and doubling back on itself between past and present.  It is a clever Dickensian detective story.

Set in Hokitika during the goldrush naturally brings an array of diverse characters in an unusual and exotic setting.  As each character is introduced, there is a vivid portrait painted in words, not just physical descriptions but also characteristics and backgrounds.  As a reader, I felt life being breathed into each one.  I could see them upon the stage Catton set.  I cared about their interactions and the ultimate outcome for each of them.

I wasn't fussed about the end (though maybe I just didn't want it to end!).  It became rather like the tassels on a fringe as it tied up loose threads, a little rushed, a little decorative rather then substantial.