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.

My Friend Leonard by James Frey (Book Review)

25/07/2011 § Leave a comment

The follow up to Frey’s first successful and controversial quasi-memoir sees him dealing with life and death after rehab, guided by his gangster guardian and friend, Leonard.  Those who have read the first instalment will already know the fates of the characters who endure to the second. However, this does not detract from the poetically written, heart wrenching narrative. Less deconstructed language and reduced involvement in addiction sets this story free to centre upon James’ relationship with his outlandish and lovable friend. Tragedy and satire are combined brilliantly in a story that is to biographies what Picasso is to portraits.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey Review

05/07/2011 § Leave a comment

James Frey’s memoir describes his odyssey through a notable American rehabilitation centre after hitting rock bottom as a crack addict. The author’s thoughts tumble onto the page unhampered by grammatical rules, blurring the line between his thoughts and actions and reflective of his chaotic mental state. This hard hitting book is not for the faint hearted; the narrative is permeated with harrowing and sometimes gruesome scenes, necessary to the book’s raw and brutally honest portrayal of lifelong addiction. A Million Little Pieces is immensely rewarding, and all the more affective for being based on a true journey.

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield Review

11/06/2011 § Leave a comment

Xeo is the sole Spartan survivor of the bloody battle of the Thermopylae, held captive so his defeaters may learn how 300 men kept the Persian hoards at bay, only to be vanquished by betrayal. Reading Pressfield, it’s easy to understand why producers of 300 considered basing their picture on Gates of Fire. The factual basis of the ultimate underdog story is expertly utilised to envelop readers in an alien world, where war and death were a way of life. Intimately researched, with a narrative as relentlessly engaging as its subjects, Gates of Fire is a gloriously rampant gore fest.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen Review

28/05/2011 § Leave a comment

This is a firsthand account of a girl’s experience of being entombed within the American mental health system.  Girl, Interrupted is an autobiography that reads like a novel, which immerses the reader in a world where the astoundingly abnormal is accepted with sardonic insightfulness.  Kaysen describes her descent into madness with a punchy wit; consistently ignoring her own lunacies in favour of observing those of others. As each character is dissected, the reader becomes aware of their own disquieting fascination with the insane. This book will make you consider your own mental state, and you’ll have fun along the way.

Flipnosis by Kevin Dutton Review

06/05/2011 § Leave a comment

Dr Kevin Dutton catalogues examples of split-second persuasion or ‘Flipnosis’. Dutton unlocks the secrets of a baby’s face, uncovers dastardly scams and tantalises with analyses of The Psychopath. Flipnosis is an easy read that supplies intriguing anecdotes and entertaining experiments to relay to the amazement of your friends. What Dutton lacks is consistent relevance to his primary theme or the ability to follow through on his allusions to being able to teach the reader to become an expert ‘Flipnotist’. This leaves what is simply a pretty enjoyable regurgitation of other people’s ideas, with a catchy title, but no real purpose.

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