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.

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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.

C by Tom McCarthy (Book Review)

24/08/2011 § Leave a comment

In ‘C’, McCarthy follows Serge episodically throughout his life; beginning in his family’s estate, which doubles up as a silk factory and school for the deaf, before travelling to Germany for WW1, then London and finally, Egypt. The entire novel feels like an overindulgent introduction, which centres hedonistically on the concept of transmission whilst leaving even its central character deliberately two dimensional and impassive. Serge as a character is merely a vessel for the author’s immoderate and dense philosophical musings. The overly literary style of this novel detracts from its own story telling, leaving the reader distant, unmoved and disengaged.

In Malice, Quite Close: A Novel by Brandi Lynn Ryder (Book Review)

15/08/2011 § 1 Comment

This artistically written novel opens with the shocking and beguiling account of the seduction of a fifteen year old girl by charming but perverse Frenchman, Tristan Mourault. Years later the working class girl has been reborn into opulence as her voyeur’s most prized work of art; preserved through lies and manipulation. This story, despite to soon giving way to narration by weaker characters, exhibits an intoxicating mystery to be solved, full of elegiac eroticism, decadence, forgeries and fakes. Every chapter creates a cliff-hanger, gradually exposing the reader to more sins and secrets than Tristan alone can be guilty of.

The Snow Whale by John Minichillo (Book review)

08/08/2011 § Leave a comment

This retelling of Moby Dick sees a contemporary John Jacobs turn his mediocre life inside out after learning (via a dubious DNA test) that he is of predominantly Inuit descent. The brave move to describe a modern American white man leaving an almost-happily married life in suburbia to hunt whales is, of course, utterly absurd. Sadly the novel isn’t quite funny enough to pull of its ludicrousness and Minichillo, like Melville before him, too late submerges the reader in engaging adventure. A quirky and readable homage for those familiar with its predecessor, The Snow Whale is otherwise unjustifiably ridiculous.

The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald (Book Review)

30/07/2011 § 4 Comments

Will is a loser; his writing career was a non-starter and his wife left him. But this story isn’t about these things; it’s about the advancing kidney disease of both of the twin daughters his wife left him with, and Will’s efforts to save them. Fitzgerald creates a small unit of exquisitely flawed characters who, despite their disparities, are impossible to not empathise with. At times outright hilarious, this book entertains and enthrals the reader whilst focusing intensely on the disquietingly identifiable people within it. You will certainly end up rooting, along with Will, for a seemingly impossible happy ending.

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