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

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

How Late It Was, How Late

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Read 20/02/2017-26/02/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I decided to buy this after Weezelle mentioned it in her review of Walking The Lights. I put it onto my TBR selection for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge, and this week it came up.

I loved it from the first page. My brother in law is from just outside Glasgow. He’s not as broad as Sammy, the main character in Kelman’s cautionary tale of life on the blag in Glasgow, but the rhythms of his speech are similar, so I felt at home with the narrative style. The book is a single chapter, a stream of consciousness chronicling of Sammy’s fall one weekend from being a regular petty criminal to becoming a blind petty criminal. Continue reading

Thousand Cranes

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Read 12/01/2017-14/01/2017

Rating: 5 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge

It isn’t often that I read a book and don’t want to review it for fear of shattering its beauty. Thousand Cranes is such a book. I can talk about what I love about it. I can boil the plot down to mundanities. Or I can tell you to read it and find out for yourself what makes it such a compelling book.

From the very first lines I was hooked. Continue reading

The Vicar of Wakefield

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Read 03/01/2017-05/01/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge.

I’ve had this book on my bookcase for 18 years. I don’t know why I’ve never picked it up to read. Perhaps because it’s a slim, unassuming volume and I didn’t really know what it was about. The title doesn’t draw you in. The cover makes it look dull.

It’s surprisingly funny in an 18th century comedy of manners kind of way. Wry like Jane Austen when she’s poking fun. Not as acerbic as Laurence Sterne. There’s something of Cervantes about its humour, and something of Mr Bennett about Dr Primrose. Continue reading

The Savage Detectives

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Read 26/12/2016-02/01/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge

I did some reading up on The Savage Detectives. It’s partly a fictionalised account of Roberto Bolaño’s return to Mexico in 1974 and his attempt to set up, with a friend and fellow poet Mario Santiago, a group of renegade poets-cum-practical jokers whose purpose in life is to disrupt the cultural status quo through heckling at poetry readings and to bring about political revolution with poetry as the great liberator.

It’s also partly a quest, a road trip in search of a mysterious disappeared poet. Throughout the book, the savage detectives of the title are neither fully present nor fully absent. They are present in conversations, and present in people hoping for their return, and are absent even when they make a physical appearance. We never hear directly from them. We only hear other people’s impressions of them. Continue reading