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Showing posts from August, 2014

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…

All The Days And Nights by Niven Govinden

I am appropriately grateful to Madeline Toy, former publicity manager at Transworld and now freelance book publicist, firstly for her kind offer and secondly her even kinder gift of Niven Govinden's new and yet-to-be published (as of publishing) novel, All The Days And Nights, published by The Friday Project* and available from all good bookshops, and some bad ones, from the 25th September. She may be the first person since I decided to gently solicit free things to read to actually send me something, for free, so if nothing else deserves an honourable mention. 

Therefore this review entails an attempt - my favourite disclaimer and apology for eventual failure - to curtail my own facetiousness, cynicism and puerile theatricality to give due consideration to the book itself.

First impressions left me confused. The title rang bells so I checked it out. Of course, the link to Glen Duncan I could dismiss, but it was a surprise to see the same title on a collection of William Maxwell sto…

Open Door by Iosi Havilio

*Shame Klaxon*
I am ashamed to admit it but I know next to nothing about Borges. I know the names of his books. I know he crops up almost without fail when conversations include literature from South America. I know his words book-end so many novels that I have that habitual proving-my-bold-assertion-mind-blankness which means my brain knows it to be true and won't humour your scepticism with an example*. And I know it's likely the biggest single lacuna in my entire reading history**.
So you may imagine my lack of surprise, on finishing this novel and reading the afterword by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, and author of works on the history and politics of Latin America, that Borges pops up, within three lines of text. Three lines! He wastes no time does Oscar. Of course, my shame bristled and I was ready to adopt the usual casual hostility to something of which I was ignorant. But straight away, I understood what he was saying. I have often consid…