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Free Stuff!

We all love free things.

Sadly I have none to give away. Hey, I'm just your average, lowly, poorly paid reader-type, easily bought off with shiny goodies or the promise of a job where I don't have to use tools like the toe-jam brush or come home smelling like rotting beef carcasses. 


Washing and stamping beef carcasses (3718635976)
It's quitting time!
However, if you should ever find yourself with a stack of brand-new proofs, or books you've just released, you know, super-lead titles, future prize-winning fiction, classic sci-fi novels and so forth, then, rather than wasting them on booksellers and wholesalers (cos they'll just use them to prop open fire doors) you should consider giving them a home they will love. Failing that, send them to me. 

You can get in touch through the comments below, via Twitter or by sending me a polite and fawning email. I'll do the rest. Except of course for mailing the book, which you'll still have to do.

Now, the disclaimer thingamabobs.

  • Any books sent to me to read and review will be done so at the sender's cost
  • I cannot possibly promise to read and review every book I receive, but I will try to provide a credit to every book and sender somewhere on these pages.
  • I cannot possibly promise to give your book a good or positive review. I haven't read it yet. I will try to look at the good points, and constructively criticise the bad bits, within my abilities so to do. If you are afraid I won't like it, and will post a scathing review, take heart - I'm much too soft to do that. Please refer to the Kurt Vonnegut quote about suits of armour etc. - it's at the end of the review.
  • If you have a time-frame for a review, please let me know from the outset, as otherwise I might be too distracted by biscuits or football to notice things like publishing dates, mass media advertising campaigns and so forth.


I'm just a sucker for a good story. So send me yours.


Comments

What Readers Are Reading

A Bright Moon For Fools by Jasper Gibson

Ah, what would be a review penned by yours truly without some sort of grovelling apology at the outset? A better review no doubt, but that aside I can't help but continue the tiresome tradition with an apology. Sorry to my regular robotic readers (hi bots!) but I have been very neglectful of the blog of late, having been tied up with my pursuit of a broader spectrum of dilettantism; I've been taking part in a number of MOOCs offered by various HEIs on the FutureLearn platform. Worth checking out if you ask me.

(Subtle enough plug, you think?)
Anyway, the break afforded by a foray into further education has proved something of a test for Jasper Gibson and his fiction. In truth, it took me a little while to remember what exactly the novel was about, who was in it, and how I felt about the whole thing. Instant alarm bells. Of course, having had a break, I'd had a good crack at filling my head with a whole bunch of other things worth remembering, so maybe it all just got squeeze…

Umbrella by Will Self

I’m a big fan of Will Self and his titanium folding bike. Through him I’ve become a fan of Matthew De Abaitua, his one-time amanuensis; Russell Hoban; fan and novelist Sam Mills, and there are probably more authors I’ve found and loved because of his scholarly erudition.
However, James Joyce ain’t ever going to be one.
Which is odd if you consider my track record of loving modern and post-modern authors who creatively re-frame a traditional narrative.
Unfortunately, for me at least, if not for the swathes of blown-away reviewers and columnists who lavished praise and called for its inclusion on the Booker list in 2012, I quickly came to realise both the significance of the title and of the opening epigraph: “A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella.” (James Joyce, Ulysses)
It’s a 397-page-long paragraph.
Whilst that doesn’t explain the umbrella, of which more later, Umbrella is written with a significant nod to the modernist (sorry, Modernist) stylings of Joyce and T.S. Eliot. Self…

Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth

Reading John Barth makes me feel a mixture of ignorance and pride - ignorance because many of the references, devices, tropes (and on and on) he uses are beyond my comprehension (or current reading level), and pride because I know which ones are which. In his appended introduction (not the one from 1966 where he blithely waffles on about listening to certain stories as recordings which don't actually exists per se) he talks about the need to get more John Barth on to the reading lists of creative writing courses across the great continent of North America. This was his attempt to add Barth to Borges, to get himself mentioned in the same breath as others who subvert the comfortable illusions of tale and teller. 


Hence the scratching of head and puffing of cheeks and regular stoppages of reading for a cup of tea or to see what the weather is like outside.


Most short stories take it out of me; all that emotional investment only to have it stop short of resolution, or to end abruptly, o…

The Elephant by Sławomir Mrożek

It’s a wonder that Sławomir Mrożek lived to be 83. Maybe the post-Stalin regimes of Georgy Malenkov, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev were less likely to pitch a critical satirist into an unmarked grave or have him dragged off to winter in Siberia than was Uncle Joe. Maybe he just wasn’t widely read and therefore not deemed a threat. Or perhaps his support of the Stalinist persecution of religious leaders in Poland and his membership of the Polish United Workers’ Party (until he defected) stood him in historical stead good enough so that he didn’t find himself on the sharp end of a radioactive umbrella. Because frankly, having read The Elephant, published in 1957 but not banned until 1968, it’s hard to see anyone in the Soviet bureaucracy letting this level of criticism go unpunished.
Take the titular story, The Elephant, one of 42 similarly absurd political satires in this slim volume. A provincial zoo, lacking “all the important animals” is awarded an elephant by the Party, muc…