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Showing posts from April, 2015

The Book of The New Sun, Volume 1: Shadow and Claw, by Gene Wolfe

Orfeo by Richard Powers

I'm in a rare state of euphoria. This past week I've had a few epiphanies, most of which might be pretty unremarkable, mundane and trivial and with none of which I will annoy or bore you. I've also watched what might be my favourite film (which isn't The Big Lebowksi) and read one of my new favourite books. To this end, please forgive the trotting out of superlatives that is bound to follow. 

Firstly, before we begin, I urge you to find and watch Synecdoche, New York, a 2008 film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (also of The Big Lebowski), written and directed by Charlie Kaufman and rather amusingly mis-labelled by iTunes as a comedy. Mind-blowing.

Secondly, here come the superlatives. Richard Powers' Orfeo is the best book I've read this year by a significant margin. Similarly mind-blowing, I'm indebted to whomever it was suggested I splash out 99p on the Kindle version , and who has both gifted me great joy and also robbed me of the delight of reading this i…

Day by A. L. Kennedy

Alas, here I go with another apologetic opening line. I've had a signed copy of this book on my shelves since Alison Kennedy attended a book signing in Cardiff way back in April 2007, and have studiously ignored it since. Sorry. I'm sorry because A.L. Kennedy is a brave and interesting person. Not only has she had the pleasure of my company for a beer or two (hence brave), she is also a stand-up comedian* and a successful essayist. She has won prizes and awards**, and was smashing to talk with, albeit briefly. But the truth should be known - I dislike novels that dwell on the world wars, and was terribly afraid that I would hate this book and thus sound like an arse. 

The background to this, only partly understood and therefore difficult to explain, is that the particular emphasis on Britishness that seems to be the fall back position for writers, both novelists and screenwriters, makes me spectacularly uncomfortable. For some reason on which I don't have a handle, I squirm…