September has flown by and suddenly it’s the first Saturday of October. Which means it’s time for Six Degrees of Separation, hosted as ever by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
October ends on Hallowe’en, making it the spookiest month, and our starting point for this month’s chain is a Shirley Jackson short story, The Lottery (available online here).
A heads up – I’m thinking a lot about Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa this week, two women brutally murdered by opportunistic men while simply going about life in a way we should all be free to, regardless of gender, but that women are conditioned to feel at risk doing. So there’s a flavour to my choices this month.
Rating 3 stars
Read as part of the 20 Books of Summer readathon.
I accidentally started Women in Translation month early with this collection of short stories. I should have known that Angela Carter would include a few women whose first language isn’t English. After all, being a woman who doesn’t conform to the artificial notion of femininity isn’t an exclusively Anglophone thing.
Carter introduces her selections as being about women who aren’t really wicked or wayward, at least not all of them. Continue reading
Rating 5 stars
The Shape of the Ruins is the story of the writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez and his involvement with two men who are obsessed by the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. Gaitán is real. Vásquez is real. I don’t know whether Carlos Carballo or Dr Francisco Benavides, the man who introduces Vásquez to Carballo, are real. It’s a novel about truth and the multiple truths of history. It’s a novel about how politically charged events can have decades of reverberation, affecting the lives of those who are unaware of the origin moment. It’s a novel of connections obscured by the twists and turns in their paths. Ultimately, it’s a novel about power and its influence over truth. Continue reading
Rating 5 stars
Fever Dream is a short, brilliant book. It’s hard to review without giving things away, but suffice to say that Samanta Schweblin has delivered a masterpiece in suspense writing and translator Megan McDowell has done a cracking job of putting the Spanish into English.
The Poisonwood Bible starts May’s Six Degrees, hosted at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Last month I celebrated the joys of lending books. This month I’ll be rueing the giving away of books. Continue reading
Rating: 4 stars
Read for The Reader’s Room March Madness Reading Challenge.
Carmen Maria Machado’s writing style reminds me of Ben Marcus. It’s tangential to reality, unsettling in the way it seems familiar but is slightly off, and it mixes the everyday with the fairytale to create a new kind of horror. Continue reading
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