Books

What do you read, my lord?

Book review: North Face of Soho

North Face of Soho.North Face of Soho by Clive James.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

My plan to read all of Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs volumes continues apace. It’s been a while since I read the first three, so this fourth is like an unexpected visit from an old mate.

In this volume, Clive is – in the polyester-and-beard ’70s – married and attempting to shift towards a more stable income. However, that’s not as simple as one would expect, and the pages detail epic poems, poet-bashing, too-smart songwriting and a dinner (with surprise trumpet interlude) with Spike Milligan.
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Book review: The Roo

The Roo.The Roo by Alan Baxter.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Photoshop is responsible for a lot of things. Most of them are bad, but in the case of this novella – written in response to the image which ended up as its cover – Adobe should be profusely thanked.

The world has a serious lack of stories about rampaging kangaroos. Even fewer of those involve exploding heads, multiple appearances of the phrase “shit cunt”, and can be read in about an hour. Alan Baxter has filled the void pretty well, here.

Also, there’s this in the introduction:

If you’re not too familiar with the anatomy of kangaroos, may I also suggest you Google ‘kangaroo feet’ before you start reading. Seriously, you might think you know, but have another look. They’re insane.

That they are. (more…)

Book review: Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends

Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends: Tales from a Colonial Coroner's Court.Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends: Tales from a Colonial Coroner’s Court by Catie Gilchrist.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Life in the nineteenth century, it seems, sucked.

That’s what I glean from Catie Gilchrist’s presentation of life through the coroner’s lens. Sydney, while not exactly a prison colony at the time, was still not really that cosmopolitan a place. With medicine and policing both rough and ready, corpses, violence and things taken care of in a how’s-yer-father manner, there was a distinct seat-of-one’s-pants approach to life and the grim reaper.
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Book review: Too Much and Never Enough

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Like everyone else, I was intrigued. I mean, here’s a member of the Trump family, vocally shit-talking her powerful relative. A relative so thin-skinned that any criticism is anathema, and OH LOOK, THE BOOK MIGHT BE BANNED BY THE COURTS… until it wasn’t.

I was in. And oh lord, was it popcorn heaven.
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Book review: In Search of Lost Time Volume II: Within a Budding Grove

In Search of Lost Time Volume II: Within a Budding Grove.In Search of Lost Time Volume II: Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Slowly, slowly. That’s how things go when you’re two books deep in Proust. Soporific, even – though given that a lot of the action in the second volume occurs beachside, where sex and surf combine.

Well, it’s not all thoughts of boning and brine.
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Book review: Get Carter

Get Carter.Get Carter by Ted Lewis.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Well now.

As the saying goes, it’s grim up north. The grimness undoubtedly is multiplied when you’re hired crime muscle normally found in London, and you’re only headed back to your northern home town because your brother has died.

Do I look happy to bloody be here?

Sorry, “died”.

This is how we find Jack Carter: a cool mix of suspicion, grief and nice suits paid for with ill-gotten gains, training it north to find out what the fuck’s gone on with his brother, and – most importantly – who’s to blame. (more…)

Book review: The Gallows Pole

The Gallows Pole.The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

I’m a bit behind in my reviews, but I knew as soon as I finished this novel I’d have to bang one out. It’s ridiculously good – an historical novel rooted in truth that also manages to be a psychogeographical, folk-horror wonder. And features the following threat:

I’ll stitch your scut hole shut and feed you moldy parsnips all day long

How could I not give it a rave-up? (more…)

Book review: Dust 8

Dust 8 OmnibusDust 8 by Osamu Tezuka.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of Tezuka’s works I’ve read. I’ve known about his work since I was very small, thanks to Astro Boy and Kimba The White Lion television reruns. But this is the first unquestionably adult text of his I’ve engaged with.

I mean…

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Book review: In Search of Lost Time Volume I: Swann’s Way

In Search of Lost Time Volume I: Swann's Way.In Search of Lost Time Volume I: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So with a pandemic raging and the world basically on fire, I figured it was as good a time as any to tackle what’s considered one of the world’s longest novels, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

I’m a fancy boy. 

It is, demonstrably, an indulgent fugue written by a mama’s boy with a fixation on minutiae and madeleines. But it’s also kind of perfect reading – escapism – for when you need a break from what’s going on outside. (more…)

Book review: His Bloody Project

His Bloody Project.His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

It seems that this is the kind of book that people either love or fucking hate, at least judging by the reviews floating around online.

I’d had it on my to-read list for quite some time – I remember being interested when it was published, but wanted to give the fanfare a bit of time to die down – and I’m glad I did, as I went in with no real expectations.
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