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Showing posts from April, 2019

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…

The Dinner by Herman Koch

To cut a long story short(ish), I’d left Will Self at home by mistake (or rather, because it’s a hardback and my pannier bags were stuffed with other work-related detritus) and was struggling to overcome the temptation to simply watch crap television on the iPad during my lunch break, when I remembered I could access my Kindle library through the app. So, I went through the library to the earliest downloaded novel (ignoring yet again the interminably long list of out-of-copyright, free-to-download ‘classics’ I’d grabbed the second I got my e-reader and may never, ever look at again) and opened her up.
Thankfully, somehow, my brain has redacted in its entirety the truly awful film version of this novel. No, no, please don’t even tap it into Google or Bing or whatever. It’s a total shit fest. How low Richard Gere has fallen…. And he dragged Steve Coogan down with him too. There was every chance that, had I remembered watching its fully majestic calamity, I would have deleted the e-book …