Sunday, February 3, 2013

January reading summary

I'm up to my eyeballs in edits for The Mannequin Makers at the mo. Working to a deadline while working full time and sleeping if and when my daughter deems it appropriate.

I hope to write a detailed post about the editing process after I'm over this next hump, but until then, let's talk about books by other people!!

January seems to have been a month out of the ordinary for me, with at least three books with fantasy elements (not normally my bag). But it’s always good to wade into different waters.

Flight by Sherman Alexie (novel, audiobook, US)

I thought for the first hour that it was really good, then it went suddenly and terribly wrong (as in: extended dream sequence lasting ¾ of the book).

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (novel, audiobook, US)

I didn’t want to like this book. I didn’t even want to read it, but somehow it wound up on my iPod. The Night Circus has elements of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Priest (the dude who wrote The Prestige, my favourite novel about magic) and Great Expectations. It's engaging to begin with, but poorly structured and drags for long stretches. And personally I favour fiction that tackles illusions rather than actual magic.

Zoo City
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (novel, South Africa)

This felt like Elmore Lenard’s Be Cool, transplated into a twisted Johannesburg (and a world where, if you do something really bad, you get saddled with an animal like a sloth or a meerkat). Sadly, Beukes’ writing does not have Lenard’s restraint and I got seriously lost in the climax (as in: where is she now? Where are these other people? How can she hear them and they not see her?).

Big Country: Ride, You Tonto Raiders and War Party
Big Country by Louis L’Amour (short stories, audiobook, US)

This audiobook contained two longer stories from one of the best selling authors of Western. A bit of sunny, parched-earth fun for Summer – but I was actually quite impressed with L’Amour’s writing: it’s more restrained and smooth than I expected from someone associated with pulp.

The Ongoing Moment
The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer (non-fiction, UK)

Interesting discussion of photographic tropes (hands, other photographers). Wildly divergent, often facinating, but by design it’s bitsy and disjointed.

A Heart So White
A Heart So White by Javier Marias (novel, Spain)

An interesting set-up buried – quite deliberately – beneath over-analysis and naval-gazing. Is it possible to think a book really good and freely admit to having skimmed large amounts? Well?

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