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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…

Big Reads circa 2007

Rooting about behind old electronic equipment I discovered a stash of cuttings clipped from The Western Mail between 2006 and 2007, back when I was Waterstones' representative and, hopefully (but not likely) authoritative reviewer, and still using my 'maiden' name. Gawd, the stuff I used to get away with! Still, daft as I was, grouping Richard Flanagan, Nicholson Baker and Winkie by Clifford Chase together, I can honestly say I was trying my damnedest to get people to read books that I sincerely enjoyed, for whatever the reason. And I have a year's worth of the buggers too. It's nice to know that at some point in your life, your opinion mattered... Obviously not enough to get paid for it. But such a beautiful young face.





  

Comments

  1. Ah, the flow of intertextuality. Having read these reviews I realised I've given away my copy of The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break, and that Sherrill has written two other books of fiction that I'd not read. I will be rectifying both situations shortly.

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