December’s Six Degrees, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite And Best, starts with It by Stephen King.
Rating: 5 stars
I’m a recent convert to the writing of Ali Smith. The first of hers I picked up from the library was How to be Both, her 2016 Women’s Prize for Fiction winner. I followed that up with There But For The. There are others in the library that I will also borrow. I bought Autumn with my birthday money. I liked the sound of a quartet of books about contemporary Britain rooted in the seasons. I liked the sound of the first in the quartet being about the EU Referendum and everything that surrounds that central cataclysm in recent British life. I liked that Smith chose to start in my favourite season.
The book is beautiful. One of the main characters, Daniel, is in a care home, drifting in and out of consciousness, dreaming about his death. He’s a centenarian. The other main character is Elisabeth. She is more than sixty years younger than Daniel, but they have been lifelong friends since she was eight years old. Continue reading
Rating: 4 stars
I often used to read Laurie Penny’s articles in New Statesman and the Guardian, partly because I felt that I should because here was a young woman writing about the experience of being female and queer in a patriarchal world with no holds barred, and also partly because her self-absorbed, earnest approach to journalism wound me up in a way I enjoy. (I have a tendency to project the irritation I feel about things that seem beyond my control onto unconnected subjects.) Continue reading
Rating: 4 stars
I don’t want to give too much away about this book, because I appreciated the suspense of not knowing what would happen next. It’s a stellar story, full of tension balanced by sweet humour and almost surreal moments of drifting thought, the mind’s way of distracting from stress and danger rendered in words on a page. Continue reading
Rating: 3 stars
Read for the Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge
Mullumbimby is the story of Jo Breen, a former musician, divorced from her husband, bringing up her daughter Ellen as a single mum. Jo lives in Mullumbimby, a town in New South Wales, where she earns a living mowing the grass in the white people’s cemetery. Jo is a Goorie woman from the Bundjalung nation. Her ex-husband Paul is a white Australian. Jo wants to reconnect with her Aboriginal roots. She is instantly likeable, warm and ready to laugh, easy going and a hard worker for the things she believes in – family, identity, and respect. Mullumbimby focuses on Jo’s attempts to re-establish herself on tribal land and reveals the conflict that forms the history of land appropriation and informs the native title claims process in Australia, as well as the conflict between different generations of Aboriginal people. Continue reading
Rating: 2 stars
Read for The Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge.
Eighteen months ago, Weezelle over at Words and Leaves interviewed Yannick Thoraval about his novel about climate change, The Current. I downloaded a free copy from his site, because I liked how he came across in his answers to Weezelle’s questions. I especially liked his perspective on self-publishing.
I read bearing in mind that this is a self-published novel, that despite employing a team to help polish the work in the way an independent publisher would, it might not feel like a traditionally published book. Continue reading
Rating: 4 stars
Emily Fridlund’s novel grabbed my intention when it made the Booker long list. The Booker shadow panel assembled for The Reader’s Room book review blog described it in ways that made me want to read it. I appreciate that none of them wanted to give away plot lines, but their descriptions seemed extra elliptical in a way that intrigued me.
Now that I’ve read the book, I realise that this obscure way of not giving away the plot was because the plot itself is slippery. Continue reading