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Books of Note

The Vorrh by Brian Catling

There are some books on which I find myself taking a weary chance purely by the weight of Amazonian algorithmic pressure. This is by no means a good reason to buy a book (although what better reason is there to buy one other than there is a book there to buy?) but at 99p an electronic book is easily discarded if it fails to grip. And ths one kept coming up on Amazon, over and over. And over. I grew to hate its cover, the name, the single initial forename of the author. I was in fact dead set against enjoying or even being fair-handed in criticism of the book when finally I turned the first virtual page. 

Prejudice isn't strong enough to describe the feeling.

HOWEVER (in capitals so it's shouty and unavoidable) disregard everything I've said above. 99p is an absolute bargain for this (although I intend to purchase a hard copy when funds allow). It is ineffable, but I will attempt something of a review to give you an idea of why you should drop everything and buy a copy of thi…
Recent posts

The Elephant by Sławomir Mrożek

Augustus Carp, Esq., By Himself: Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man, by Henry Howarth Bashford

Veins by Drew

In an effort to make the top half of the blog landing page look as though there are words in some of the posts and not just pictures and Amazon adverts, I thought I’d push out a review of something I’d read recently rather than stick to the strict order of things. So here goes nothing.
I read Veins as I used to enjoy Toothpaste for Dinner, a comic strip by the author, Drew. TFD is dark and daft and en vogue with the current trend for consistently well-done badly drawn cartoons. Plus, Veins was really cheap and quite short, and I’m swayed by the arguments in defense of short(er) fiction*, particularly when it helps push my books read beyond 40 a year…
It delivers something similar. The narrator, M.R., is a dumbass, a deadbeat bum who has a curiously skewed positive slant on his demonstrably awful life. Teased remorselessly in high school (they call him “Veins” and “Titty Veins” because of his pale, transparent skin and later because he develops fat man boobs) he prefers to hide in the ro…

The Broken Mirror by Jonathan Coe

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

Sucker's Portfolio by Kurt Vonnegut

Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright

The Ambassador by Bragi Ólafsson

The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer

As I sit and contemplate the inclement weather currently freezing my car to the driveway, I reflect that it's not often I can claim to be ahead of the curve, whether by accident or design. And I still can't. However, it seems I found Jeff VanderMeer at an opportune moment.

A quick shout out here to indie bookshop Griffin Books of Penarth for getting all three volumes for me in record time. Good work team! 

I discovered the short trailer for Annihilation on Twitter (much better than the official one, with fewer 'monsters' and more suspense) and was instantly captivated by the visuals. Now, I don't and won't pay for Netflix, and am very annoyed with Paramount Studios for their rather mercenary short-sightedness over not releasing the film adaptation, written and directed by Alex Garland, into cinemas outside the US and China, but it did allow me to burn through the trilogy without fear of my own interpretation being corrupted by the cinematic filter of a big budget…

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Fairyland by Paul McAuley

The Power by Naomi Alderman

As a man, I feel squeamish offering my opinion on a novel which subverts the established patriarchy and reverses the balance of gender inequality. As a human, I am equally squeamish about prefacing any sentence with “As a man…” Thankfully, I’ve let this one slide for five months and as such, I can’t remember very much without going back and reviewing several entertaining and effusively supportive reviews*, and so my opinions are muted and diffused by the dimming fog of memory.
However, these reviews threw up a curveball. I had no idea Allie / Mother Eve wasn’t white. Did I miss something obvious? Was I just being obtuse? Oh god, now I’m applying my liberal but ignorant Anglo-centric race bias.
What a contemptible WAS (formerly) P-ish human male person.
Still, since I can’t win this one by virtue of the dual accidents of birth and upbringing, I’m very happy to sound off in support of Naomi Alderman’s fourth novel.
It’s good.
Forgetting the correspondence between future anthropologists specu…