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Showing posts from September, 2017

And The Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Someone told me this novel, now nearly thirty years old (holy crap), Nick Cave's first and, possibly, his best, began life as a screenplay when he was still touring with The Birthday Present. That seems equally plausible and implausible. It is a wildly cinematic novel, narrated in flashback by the hermetic mute boy Euchrid Eucrow, who slithered into the world as one of a pair of damaged twins, the only one who survives the neglect of their first day on earth, and is vividly, viscerally visual. But it's also complicated, wildly imaginative, and at heart, finds a safer and more permanent berth in the gently revered world of literature than in the ever-changing and perfidious zeitgeist of cinema.

The story goes that Euchrid, after throwing himself into a bog into which he slowly sinks as he narrates his tale (to whom? and how?), was born, mute and unloved, into a truly Southern Gothic existence, mother a moonshine drunk, father a mean, bitter animal trapper, his community a severe…

The Little Town Where Time Stood Still by Bohumil Hrabal

Having finished within days of each other the two svelte novels Closely Observed Trains and Too Loud A Solitude, two novels which take up positions one and two on my list of favourite European novels of all time, I quickly resolved to pepper the next few months with more Hrabalobština and I purchased with intent to binge I Served The King Of England (superb!), Dancing Lessons For The Advanced in Age, and In-House Weddings, along with this double-header of stand-alone but linked novellas. For whatever reason, twelve years passed between the first of this short list and this last book.

Twelve years!

I find it difficult to describe, but much like when I think about the mid-Western novels of Percival Everett, or more recently the two Laird Hunt books Indiana, Indiana and Kind One, I experience a creeping horror and fascination born of a complete disconnect between myself and the characters of the novel, and am subject to a squally sense of pathos which can at any moment send my mood off int…

Erasmus Hobart and the Golden Arrow by Andrew Fish

It's hard and perhaps ungrateful to be critical of a book for which I paid nothing. It's also hard to work up the enthusiasm to read it. However, I was looking guiltily back through my e-reader library at all the wonderful free classic books I'd never read, not really fancying Aritsotle's Poetics or Beyond Good and Evil, when I remembered this.

And it was nothing like I'd imagined.

For some reason, the word golden had conjured some kind of mathematical construct, perhaps an unconscious association with Fibonacci, and I was sort-of expecting some kind of Beautiful Mind pastiche. What I got instead was a poor man's Doctor Who episode, without any of the BBC NOW-orchestrated dramatic tension, and a dim-watted lightbulb of an idea given life by a self-confessed fan of the author of The Meaning of Liff. I can't say it warrants a mention in the same sentence.

Alright, there are moments of snigger-worthy comedy, I seem to remember (but can find no evidence thereof cu…