Looks Who’s Back by Timur Vermes (book review)
05/03/2016 § Leave a comment
Hitler is inexplicably catapulted through time into 2011 Berlin. Making fast-friends with a well-connected Kiosk owner, Hitler, presumed satirical method actor, lands himself his own TV spot.
Although sardonic quips are amusing, they would be none the poorer attributed to any cantankerous old man. The meta-satirical novel, even on a backdrop of Farage and Trump, doesn’t pack enough punch to justify converting Adolf Hitler into a lovably grumpy archetypal grandpa. A distastefully disheartening encounter with a Jewish Grandmother compounds Vermes’ failure to deliver a political point. Genuine YouTube clips of Donald Trump do the job nicely on their own, thanks.
“…my daddy used to say that death was the timing of the world’s worst comedian and I think he was right”
The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer (book review)
07/02/2016 § Leave a comment
Matt is a sectioned schizophrenic, bound through hallucinations of his disabled brother to the accident that killed him. Matt’s acerbic witticisms cleverly highlight bizarre judgements and nonsensical practices too commonly associated with mental illness. Yet, his poetic insights into his own otherness bring home how close to such an abyss anyone could stand, not realising they are about to fall. As more details of his brother Simon’s death are gradually recalled, the reader is forced to consider Matt’s own dilemma; to struggle out of the grip of insanity would mean killing of the perpetually innocent Simon, once and for all.
“Some madness doesn’t act mad to begin with, sometimes it will knock politely at the door, and when you let it in, it’ll simply sit in the corner without a fuss – and grow”
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Book Review)
26/10/2011 § 2 Comments
Allow the perplexing associates of the Night Circus to guide you on a journey to uncover its many mysteries. Fuelled by a bizarre and sinister competition between two formidable magicians, Le Cirque de Rêves is swathed in curiosities and impossibilities. This novel boasts moments of brilliance, where the reader is dazzled by an intricate secret world. However, the overly ambitious plot overwhelms the characterisation and, at times, basic narrative skill. The repetition of words and narrative formulae leave the novel feeling rushed and unedited. Tragically unpolished with an air of an intriguing film pitch rather than a novel, The Night Circus is not quite brilliant.
Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver
17/10/2011 § Leave a comment
Investigate the ‘phobic disorder’ of Jack Miller, a young disenchanted scientist who participates in an ill-fated expedition to the artic in the 1930’s. As his journal’s pages turn the tone alters from excitement to eerie disconcertment amid rumours of his destination’s penchant for ‘bad luck’. As the mission’s members are picked off by fate, the eternal darkness of the arctic begins to permeate Jacks very being. This atmospheric novel’s plot centres upon the value of companionship and the disastrous consequences of isolation. Read this alone by lamplight and you too will begin to wonder at what lurks in the shadows.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Book Review)
12/10/2011 § 3 Comments
Rebecca is the story of a young girl’s transformation from lowly companion of an insufferable Lady to wife of Maximillian De Winter and mistress of Manderly, a grand coastal estate. Far from a rags to riches romance this brooding gothic tale centres upon a naïve girl haunted by the memory of her recently deceased predecessor, the interminable Rebecca. Du Maurier draws upon Bronte to create an eerie and quietly brilliant landscape polluted with paranoia and self doubt. Likeable characters may be kept in the background but the heavily flawed antiheroes simply make the novel all the more enticing.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Book Review)
03/10/2011 § Leave a comment
The Help is set in 60s America’s Deep South, told from the points of view of two black maids and a white society lady, Skeeter, whose journalistic ambitions lead her to confront the shocking realities of living a life of servitude for less than minimum wage. Skeeter’s project provides the novel with a conduit through which a wealth of anecdotes surface. Whilst numerous incidents are harrowing, many are brimming with love and humour. The three distinct but complimentary voices are perfectly drawn, and Stockett’s bold choice to adopt voices of black Mississippian women paid off superbly. It’s popularity is well-earned.
Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm Welshman (Book Review)
22/09/2011 § 1 Comment
Join Paul Mitchell, a newly qualified vet, as he embarks upon his first job at Prospect House Veterinary Hospital. Along the way you will meet a multitude of hilarious and bizarre characters with afflictions including baldness, bites and obesity. And that’s not just the animals. Pets in a Pickle is a light-hearted romp that will certainly appeal to animal lovers and provide some genuine laugh out loud moments. Welshman has Paul’s veterinary experiences play out as pun-tastic thematic comedy sketches. The wordplay may be a little cringey at times, but that’s all part of the light hearted and frivolous fun.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Book Review)
13/09/2011 § Leave a comment
Miller retells the Iliad through a Patroclus who is both companion and lover to Achilles. Together they journey through lives that culminate in the Trojan War. In focusing on the romantic element of the central relationship Miller diminishes Achilles into a swooning character more suited to the Twilight saga than a retelling of an epic poem. This novel adds nothing to the pre-existing story; rather using it as a template for an insipid love affair. It contains a few boastful references to peripheral knowledge of Homer that will slightly bewilder your average reader and do nothing to excite a classicist.
Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso (Book Review)
05/09/2011 § Leave a comment
This memoir of child abuse that doubles up as a deranged love story begins when Margaux was 7 and her molester, Peter, was 51. The writing style is tainted by the victim’s own numbness and detachment, resulting in some inelegant over-narration. This instils the intrusive sense of reading someone else’s diary. Tiger, Tiger is an education in child maltreatment and manipulation that is perversely engaging despite, or perhaps because of, some moments that are truly difficult to read. Purposefully controversialist, this book is worth the few hours it takes to read for those whose curiosity gets the better of them.