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Showing posts from January, 2013

Books of Note

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

I’m a little behind in the scheduling of things in terms of read & reviewed, which is directly attributable to those chaps at Unbound again and their uncanny knack of sending me great books to read just when I should be tucking up in bed the last fellow. This time the delay was due to Charles Fernyhough and the opportunity seized to be his first official reviewer – job done – and the imminent release by the same company of Paul Kingsnorth’s intriguing novel of Hereward “The Wake” which led to me to a much overlooked biography by Peter Rex (of Hereward, not Paul Kingsnorth). However, I now find that my wife prefers reading Fifty Shades of Grey to talking to me, so I appear to have a little time to devote to the neglected Don DeLillo and his svelte little sideswipe, Cosmopolis.

Fortuitously, since finishing the novel my brain was infected by the eponymous David Cronenberg film starring R-Patz. I say fortuitously as, despite it being a film with R-Patz, it was, as is often the case wi…

A Box Of Birds by Charles Fernyhough

Straight off the bat, as a matter of both principle and habitual need to be accepted even if I am spouting drivel, there are two apologies to be made. Cue scraping chairs, muttered oaths and weary but sharp exits. Firstly, as the author of the book is quite likely to at least look at this review (likely because I will be making him aware of its presence and will also duplicate it on the Unbound website, whence I did buy said book) please understand that I may use hyperbolic terms in support of his literary and scholarly talents. These can be read as exaggerated praise in the hope of reciprocity of an undetermined kind, either immediate or future; I may be looking for work and in need of an astounding reference (or indeed an astounding psychiatrist). Secondly, as is typical of most amateur reviewers, I shall be relating much of this book to my experiences using the first person singular perspective much maligned by a grumpy Tibor Fischer in 2003 (yes, I’m back there again).  Whether or…