The Dark Circle

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Read 25/05/2017-29/05/2017

Rating: 2.5 stars

I borrowed The Dark Circle from the library for two reasons: it’s shortlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize and it was on the list for the Reader’s Room March Madness challenge.

I knew nothing about it, hadn’t read anything by the author before, so went in blind.

Despite thinking I had no expectations, I must have had some because it disappointed me. It wasn’t bad, it just felt like it could have been better. I have no doubt at all that it will be turned into a tv drama. Continue reading

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Every Man for Himself

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Read 18/05/2017-25/05/2017

Rating: 5 stars

Beryl Bainbridge’s novel Every Man for Himself, set on the RMS Titanic, is a mystery. The title hints at that mystery. Every man, and woman, that the young narrator, Morgan, encounters is a paradox. They are, seemingly, in it for themselves and don’t give too much away about themselves. Morgan spends a lot of time puzzling over other people’s opaqueness. He is uncertain whether other people are being straight. He admits early on that he isn’t always straight himself. People begin conversations without finishing them properly, leaving Morgan wondering about what they might be hiding. Or what he might be missing in the cryptic way he thinks they communicate. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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Read 17/05/2017-18/05/2017

Rating: 4 stars

This is a very funny book, chaotically and terrifyingly so. I don’t need to tell you what it’s about. You already know what it’s about.

I’ve had my copy for about ten years. It was given to me by a chaotic and terrifying writer that I once knew. I think he was attempting to channel Hunter S Thompson. Sometimes that’s all you can do when you live in darkest South Wales.

I’ve been saving it up for a moment such as the one that hit me this week. I’m calling it existential nihilism, even though that gives more weight to my ‘so what?’ than it deserves. Continue reading

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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Read 14/05/2017-17/05/2017

Rating: 2 stars

I’ve read both of Jonas Jonasson’s previous books. I really enjoyed The Hundred Year Old Man. I thought it was an inventive piece of fiction that had some nice moments of comedy and an affectionate warmth running through it. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden was less successful in its attempts to be inventive, but I found it entertaining enough. While it shared its satirical bent, I thought it lacked the warmth of The Hundred Year Old Man.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All didn’t completely do it for me, either. Continue reading

There but for the

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Read 11/05/2017-14/05/2017

Rating: 4 stars

There but for the is the second book by Ali Smith that I’ve read, and it’s confirmed her as a new favourite author for me.

The book is quite surreal. Miles Garth has locked himself in a spare room belonging to a middle class couple he doesn’t know who live in Greenwich. Continue reading

Pachinko

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Read 06/05/2017-11/05/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Pachinko was on the list for The Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge. I ordered it from the library, but lots of people wanted to read it, and when it eventually arrived it was too late for the challenge. I’d read enough about it to still want to read it, though. Continue reading

The Post Office Girl

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Read 01/05/2017-05/05/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Poor Christine Hoflehner. Twenty eight years old and bereft of hope. She toils away in a rural post office, caring for her sick mother, her family devastated by the Great War and the poverty that engulfed Austria as one of the losers.

Her glamorous aunt, who has lived quite a life in the Americas and has largely escaped the trials experienced by her compatriots, has returned to Europe for a holiday. She invites her sister to stay with her at her luxury Swiss hotel. Christine’s mother is too ill, though, so the honour is transferred to Christine. Her lack of enthusiasm is brilliantly rendered by Zweig. Continue reading