« More Free Books | Main | Calling Oslo »

February 06, 2009

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341d299153ef011168435f32970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Pet Book Hates #3: Blurbs, Or Rather The Lack Of:

Comments

I totally get this, and I agree that blurb should say what you say it should say. I don't read blurb, though, because I can't bear bits of story to be given away, and they too often are. Even an early set-up which if you don't know is a set-up loses its force if you know it's the set-up. So I also can't read reviews of fiction. I squint at review pages to get an impressionistic sense of whether people liked a book, or get recommendations, and etc., and then I read the book or not, and the reviews afterwards. (As I say, I get that no one else thinks like this; I can't watch previews in cinemas, either.)

What's worse is blurbs that don't make sense. I picked up 'Click' by Bill Tancer the other day and couldn't make sense of the blurb at all.

See the 1st 3 lines after 'From the Back Cover' on Amazon. You need to click on 'See All Product Description' first.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0007277830?ie=UTF8&tag=publilore-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=0007277830

What are they on about? Am I being thick? It wouldn't be the 1st time.

Curiously you spend a lot of time writing about what you think of books/music, is this ironic?

No irony at all Boggle. Not entirely sure where you are coming from.

I am always interested to hear what people have to say about a book, I am just asking that publishers also include a blurb. No blurb at all seems daft to me.

I like to see a few quotes but also a good blurb. Sometimes there is a blurb on the frst prelim below a pen pic of the author, but increasingly even the first prelim , or the first 2 or 3 prelim pages, are taken up with quote after quote, most of which are fragments of sentences, and out of context give the bemused reader no chance of working out what the book is about.

I hate just a back page of 'praise' too Scott but I don't like writing blurb much either. I will often read a book and then turn to the review quotes to see if I agree with them...

I think for this to work, publishers would have to become a lot more adept at writing a blurb without giving away half - or more - of the story. I agree with Robbie's comments above. In contrast to Scott, I'd rather have quotes of praise and no blurb - I'm usually more interested in what claims people have made for the book (and how that might fit in with what I'm interested in reading) than with the subject matter - as the latter is such a personal thing that one could easily be put off a perfect-for-you book just because it sounds as though it might be about something you wouldn't normally be interested in.

But what a great T shirt

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Books

New Arrivals

Twittering

Now Playing

  • Peter Broderick -

    Peter Broderick: Float 2013
    This is my book reading music at the moment. Unusual classical stuff. A bit avant-garde but also quite tuneful. (****)

  • Carol Keogh -

    Carol Keogh: Mongrel City
    Carol is one of my favourite vocalists ever and this, her first solo album, is ever bit as good as I'd hoped. (*****)

Quick Flicks

Dipping Into

Books Read: 2014

  • Chimene Suleyman: Outside Looking On

    Chimene Suleyman: Outside Looking On
    Cracking little poetry collection, mainly addressing aspects of living and working in London. Some great stuff in here. (****)

  • Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread

    Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread
    The first time I have found myself a little disappointed by one of her books. The story is good but some of the dialogue struck me as very clunky. Not her best work. (***)

  • Haruki Murakami: The Strange Library

    Haruki Murakami: The Strange Library
    A children's book that Murakami published in Japan some years ago is given some lovely grown-up design features and published in English for the first time. It is a handsome beast, really gorgeous, and the story is weird, if a bit slight. (****)

  • Tracy Farr: The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

    Tracy Farr: The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt
    One of my books of the year without a doubt. Theremins, lesbians, heroin—this book has it all. (*****)

  • Marion Meade: The Last Days of Dorothy Parker

    Marion Meade: The Last Days of Dorothy Parker
    An interesting coda to the author's full-length biography that examines her friendship with Lillian Hellman. (***)

  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi: Good-Bye

    Yoshihiro Tatsumi: Good-Bye
    The master of the serious Japanese comic book is on grim form here. One of the best short stories writers around. (****)

  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi: Abandon the Old in Tokyo

    Yoshihiro Tatsumi: Abandon the Old in Tokyo
    And more brilliantly dark manga, or gekiga to be more precise, from the 1970s. (****)

  • Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany's
    The book that inspired everyone's favourite racist movie. Didn't charm me as much as I had hoped. A couple of decent short stories tucked in at the end, though, as filler. (***)

  • Pascal Garnier: Moon in a Dead Eye

    Pascal Garnier: Moon in a Dead Eye
    A dark little book set in a gated retirement village in the south of France. Things got a bit too frantic towards the end but I polished this off in one sitting and it definitely zipped along. (***)

  • Philip Terry: Three Wishes

    Philip Terry: Three Wishes
    An homage to Georges Perec. Three sequences of themed fictions which turn out to be elaborate and clever puns. Lots of fun. (****)

  • Michael Chabon: The Final Solution

    Michael Chabon: The Final Solution
    The last case of Sherlock Holmes, set during WW2. Enjoyable without being amazing. Not enough of a gripping mystery to really grab me. (***)

  • Edgar Cantero: The Supernatural Enhancements

    Edgar Cantero: The Supernatural Enhancements
    A ghost/mystery/supernatural story told through a series of documents and transcripts. Fun from start to finish. Also a bit spooky. (****)

  • Greg Levin: The Exit Man

    Greg Levin: The Exit Man
    A dark comedy about assisted suicide? Why not! I liked this a lot. Cracking plot and very funny. (****)

  • Aaron Thier: The Ghost Apple: A Novel

    Aaron Thier: The Ghost Apple: A Novel
    Hilarious campus novel told entirely through documents—blog posts, emails, newspaper articles, minutes from meetings etc—which gets more and more dark as it goes on. (****)

  • John Harding: The Girl Who Couldn't Read

    John Harding: The Girl Who Couldn't Read
    A sequel, of sorts, to Florence & Giles which was one of my favourite books of 2011. This is destined to be one of my favourites of 2014. Read it in a day and loved every page. (*****)

  • David Quammen: Ebola: The Natural and Human History

    David Quammen: Ebola: The Natural and Human History
    A level-headed history of Ebola and a study of its impact. Manages to be fascinating without be alarmist and represents the genuine human story without sentimentality. Essential reading if you want to know more about the subject. (****)

  • Margaret Craven: I Heard the Owl Call My Name

    Margaret Craven: I Heard the Owl Call My Name
    A Canadian novella about a young priest sent to live and work in a small Native American village in British Columbia. Avoids sentimentality but still manages to be very moving. (****)

  • Soseki Natsume: The 210th Day

    Soseki Natsume: The 210th Day
    Enjoyable experimental novel told almost entirely in dialogue. Two friends attempt to climb a volcano but are sidetracked, sometimes quite literally, on more than one occasion. (***)

  • Bohumil Hrabal: Closely Observed Trains

    Bohumil Hrabal: Closely Observed Trains
    Czech absurdist comedy set in and around a train station right at the end of WW2. It is funny but didn't quite bowl me over. (***)

  • Hella S. Haase: The Black Lake

    Hella S. Haase: The Black Lake
    Wonderful Dutch novel from the 1940s set in the Dutch East Indies as they were then. I will be foisting this on people for the rest of the year. (*****)

  • Ira Levin: The Stepford Wives

    Ira Levin: The Stepford Wives
    I knew the basic premise, it is one of those stories that has seeped into public consciousness by osmosis, but wasn't prepared for such a tightly plotted and nuanced novel. Really first-rate stuff and a modern classic that I think should be more widely read. (****)

  • Roberto Bolano: Antwerp

    Roberto Bolano: Antwerp
    56 short scenes which supposedly combine to create an experimental crime novel but they really don't hang together at all. Some nice bits of writing in some of the vignettes but that doesn't make for a very good book or a satisfying read. (**)

  • Takashi Hiraide: The Guest Cat

    Takashi Hiraide: The Guest Cat
    Japanese novella about a childless couple who 'adopt' a local cat. Pleasant enough but a bit lightweight. (***)

  • Peter Carey: Amnesia

    Peter Carey: Amnesia
    This may well be the worst book I have ever read. Clumsy, confused and, I would argue, only partially finished. Feels like a bad first draft. (*)

  • Craig Brown: One on One

    Craig Brown: One on One
    101 true encounters told in chapters of 1001 words. Helen Keller meets Martha Graham, Graham meets Madonna, Madonna meets Jacko, Jacko meets Nancy Reagan, Nancy meets Andy Warhol, and so on through a biographical baton race. Quite wonderful. (*****)

  • Richard Cowper: A Tapestry of Time

    Richard Cowper: A Tapestry of Time
    Final part of the White Bird of Kinship series of novels and stories. Nice to see the story wrapped up but this is perhaps the least successful volume. (***)

  • Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

    Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl
    A proper page-tuner. Great entertainment, even if the two lead characters are absolute cunts. (****)

  • Dan Davies: In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile

    Dan Davies: In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile
    Grim but gripping portrait of a complex man. Doesn't sensationalise any of the subject matter. Manage to balance a morbid fascination with an objective take on what happened. (****)

  • David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks

    David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks
    Great first half. Dodgy second half. Turns into Highlander at one point. (***)

  • Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
    Interesting premise with an early twist which I am sure no one will see coming. I enjoyed this a great deal but it didn't blow me away. (****)

  • Greg Baxter: Munich Airport

    Greg Baxter: Munich Airport
    Two men, father and son, kill time at a fogbound Munich airport waiting for the flight that will take them, and the body of their dead daughter/sister, back to the US. Off-beat, dark and more than a little depressing. (***)

  • Kat Su: Crap Taxidermy

    Kat Su: Crap Taxidermy
    Very silly book full of pictures of really shit stuffing. Includes a guide to stuff your own mouse. I am sure this will be in lots of Christmas stockings this year. (****)

  • Ian McEwan: The Children Act

    Ian McEwan: The Children Act
    Unremarkable but not bad. A few memorable lines but let down once again but an unnecessary twist at the end. This feels charmingly old fashioned in a world of Mitchells and McBrides. (***)

  • Dan Kavanagh: Fiddle City

    Dan Kavanagh: Fiddle City
    Second in the series of crime novels written by Julian Barnes in the 80s featuring Duffy, a bisexual private detective. Not quite as bleak and compelling as the first but good fun nonetheless. (****)

  • Helle Helle: This Should Be Written in the Present Tense

    Helle Helle: This Should Be Written in the Present Tense
    Frustratingly vague novel from, apparently, one of Denmark's most popular novelists. Not sure this will win her many fans in the UK. It's fine, and I sort of enjoyed it while I was reading it, but have already started to forget it. (***)

  • Tom Robbins: Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life

    Tom Robbins: Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life
    If you like his novels then you will love this memoir. Irreverent, inspiring and hugely entertaining. (****)

  • Haruki Murakami: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    Haruki Murakami: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
    Quite possibly his most 'normal' novel to date. Very little magical stuff going on. Very good but not sure I loved it. Liked it a lot though. (****)

  • Liz Berry: Black Country

    Liz Berry: Black Country
    A bit of a hit and miss poetry collection. Some amazing writing here but many of the poems are written in Black Country dialect and they were lost on me, to be honest. (***)

  • Philip Hoare: The Sea Inside

    Philip Hoare: The Sea Inside
    Part memoir, part travelogue, part natural history book this meditation on the sea, the people who reside alongside it and the creatures that live in it was full of beautiful writing and fascinating facts. (****)

  • William Horwood: Duncton Wood

    William Horwood: Duncton Wood
    I revisited one of my favourite books after twenty years and enjoyed it just as much. An epic and a genuine classic that is sadly out of print. (*****)

  • Linda Grant: I Murdered My Library

    Linda Grant: I Murdered My Library
    Another Kindle Single, this time an essay about Grant culling her books when she moved from one London flat to another. Will resonate with all book lovers, and especially book hoarders. (****)

  • Jonas Jonasson: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

    Jonas Jonasson: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
    A young South African girl working in a latrine ends up changing the world through a series of unlikely coincidences and her own remarkable spirit. Jonasson doesn't deviate all that much from his successful formula but that was fine with me. Very funny indeed. I loved it. (*****)

  • A.N. Wilson: The Man Behind Narnia

    A.N. Wilson: The Man Behind Narnia
    A Kindle Single in which Wilson returns to the subject of one of his biographies, CS Lewis, twenty years after he wrote it and uses it to catch up a bit but mainly to explore his own relationship with his faith. The Lewis bits were more interesting than the Wilson bits. (***)

  • Sarah Bakewell: The English Dane: From King of Iceland to Tasmanian Convict

    Sarah Bakewell: The English Dane: From King of Iceland to Tasmanian Convict
    A biography of Jorgen Jogensen, a sailor, whaler, explorer, privateer, naval officer, spy, author dramatist, preacher, revolutionary, gambler, prisoner, convict-doctor, police constable, editor, exile, prospector, drunkard, vagabond and, briefly,King of Iceland. A cracking yarn. (****)

  • Shehan Karunatilaka: Chinaman

    Shehan Karunatilaka: Chinaman
    A dying, alcoholic sports writer attempts to track down the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer no one has ever heard of. Playful novel that won the DSC Prize. (****)

  • Peter Jefferson: And Now the Shipping Forecast

    Peter Jefferson: And Now the Shipping Forecast
    A bit of a jumble—doesn't really know if it wants to be a history of the Shipping Forecast or a personal miscellany of sea-related anecdotes—but managed to contain sufficient detail on the forecast itself to sustain my interest. (***)

  • Michel Faber: Under The Skin

    Michel Faber: Under The Skin
    Read this after seeing the film which is usually the wrong way round but not sure it did any harm this time as they are quite different. I preferred the film, to be honest, as this was a bit heavy handed in places. Good though. (****)

  • Robert K. Massie: Catherine The Great

    Robert K. Massie: Catherine The Great
    I borrowed this from the Kindle Lending Library and then spent about four months reading it off and on. It is a huge book. Impressive too. The chapters on her early years in Russia are particularly good. (****)

  • Brian Moore: The Temptation of Eileen Hughes

    Brian Moore: The Temptation of Eileen Hughes
    The first of Moore's books that I have read. A somewhat cold and austere tale of a young shopgirl taken on holiday by her rich employers. She doesn't see anything odd in this but the reader does, and the reader would be right. I liked this a lot so will check out some more of his stuff. (****)

  • Sun-mi Hwang: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly

    Sun-mi Hwang: The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly
    A fable about a chicken that flees the coop which had been a phenomenal bestseller in the author's home country of South Korea. Just enough of a dark edge to keep me interested. Not bad at all. (***)

  • Jenny Offill: Dept. of Speculation

    Jenny Offill: Dept. of Speculation
    A clever novella comprised of short, poetic paragraphs that has an impressive cumulative effect. Reminded me variously of David Markson, Sarah Salway and Charles Lambert. (****)

  • Jimmy McDonough: Shakey: Neil Young's Biography

    Jimmy McDonough: Shakey: Neil Young's Biography
    Fascinating look into the life and career of an unconventional musician. (****)

  • Joël Dicker: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

    Joël Dicker: The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
    Quite the most preposterous novel I have read since The Da Vinci Code but I must confess I enjoyed it a great deal. (****)

  • Joanna Smith Rakoff: My Salinger Year

    Joanna Smith Rakoff: My Salinger Year
    An account of the year she spent working for JD Salinger's agent, much of which was taken up with answering his fanmail. I liked it a lot. (****)

  • Laura Sims: Fare Forward : Letter from David Markson

    Laura Sims: Fare Forward : Letter from David Markson
    A charming and thought-provoking collection of letters Markson (if you've not heard if him, he's one of the most readable experimental novelists there is) wrote to a young writer and fan towards the end of his life. Comes with some excellent supplementary material too. (****)

  • Julie Maroh: Blue is the Warmest Color

    Julie Maroh: Blue is the Warmest Color
    Good, but nowhere near as good as the movie. (***)

  • John Connolly: The Killing Kind

    John Connolly: The Killing Kind
    I have enjoyed each of Connolly's Charlie Parker novels and this was no exception. (****)

  • Robin Black: Life Drawing

    Robin Black: Life Drawing
    Enjoyed this a lot but somewhat spooked by lots of similarities with a book I publish next month. (****)

  • John Freeman: How to Read a Novelist: Conversations with Writers

    John Freeman: How to Read a Novelist: Conversations with Writers
    An interesting collection of pen portraits based on meetings and interviews the author had with numerous famous authors over the past couple of decades. I kept this by my bedside and dipped in over several months. (****)

  • Dan Kavanagh: Duffy

    Dan Kavanagh: Duffy
    A crime novel written by Julian Barnes under an assumed name back in the early 80s. Set on the seedy streets of Soho it is pretty dark and grim but all the better for it. (****)

  • Nicholson Baker: Travelling Sprinkler

    Nicholson Baker: Travelling Sprinkler
    A frustrating book that is brilliant, quite brilliant, in places but the author goes off on political rants about Obama's drone policy that become tedious and annoying and spoil an otherwise entertaining novel. (***)

  • Steve Martin: Shopgirl

    Steve Martin: Shopgirl
    After a couple of decidedly average novels it was great to tuck into something short and very good. I am not sure Martin gets the credit he deserves as a novelist. He restrains his anarchic humour and offers something beautifully observed and occasionally heartbreaking. (****)

  • Mitch Cullin: A Slight Trick of the Mind

    Mitch Cullin: A Slight Trick of the Mind
    A great concept - Sherlock Holmes was real and we meet him when he is in his 90s, just after WWII - but ends up as a bit of a missed opportunity. Three storylines, none of which are quite finished with any sense of satisfaction. (***)

  • Gerard Woodward: Vanishing

    Gerard Woodward: Vanishing
    An unreliable narrator, but also an inconsistent one, leading to a number of plot holes and cul-de-sacs that left me thinking the book wasn't quite finished. A bit of a muddle but enjoyable when it worked. (***)

  • Natsume Soseki: Kokoro

    Natsume Soseki: Kokoro
    Took a while to work for me but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. A Japanese novel from the early part of the last century. Reminded me of EM Forster in the way it presented restrained emotions. (****)

  • Ted Hughes: The Iron Man

    Ted Hughes: The Iron Man
    I was quite enjoying this until the space dragon turned up and then it all got a bit too silly. (***)

  • Leah Price: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books

    Leah Price: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
    A bunch of authors answer questions about their book collections and allow their shelves to be photographed. Great book porn. (****)

  • Charles Bukowski: Pulp: A Novel

    Charles Bukowski: Pulp: A Novel
    His last book is a far-fetched private eye novel that is completely daft but good fun. (****)

  • George Saunders: Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

    George Saunders: Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
    A short speech about kindness Saunders gave to graduating students at Syracuse University. It is born of good intentions and has been turned into a very handsome little volume. Sweet but slight. (***)

  • Thomas Christopher Greene: The Headmaster's Wife

    Thomas Christopher Greene: The Headmaster's Wife
    Great story. Beautiful prose. Amazing twist. (****)

  • Matt Rudd: The English

    Matt Rudd: The English
    A very funny field guide to our (my) great countrymates. Great social commentary, manages to make serious points and subvert your expectations while making you laugh. (****)

  • Jack Standing: The Bug - Episode 1

    Jack Standing: The Bug - Episode 1
    First instalment of a horror novel being released in six parts for 77p each. A neat idea and, although horror is not a genre I bother with normally, I really enjoyed this. Would make a great TV drama. (****)

  • Barry Webb: A Book About a Matchbox

    Barry Webb: A Book About a Matchbox
    At times this was brilliant. At times this was frustrating and in need of a jolly good edit. A novel about a sentient matchbox and the lives of the people who own it. A bold experiment that almost comes off. (***)

  • Danny Rhodes: Fan

    Danny Rhodes: Fan
    A novel about the Hillsborough disaster, or rather its aftermath. A Nottingham Forest fan who has moved down south finds himself reliving that awful day when, years later, he receives news of two deaths back home. Rhodes holds nothing back. This is an important and unforgettable book. (****)

  • Julian Barnes: Levels of Life

    Julian Barnes: Levels of Life
    A study of grief. I confess I did have uncharitable thoughts that he was dwelling rather too much and I preferred the earlier portions of the book which are all about the early pioneers of ballooning. (***)

  • Nik Perring: Beautiful Words: Some Meanings and Some Fictions Too

    Nik Perring: Beautiful Words: Some Meanings and Some Fictions Too
    An alphabet book for grown-ups with just the hint of a story across its pages. Clever stuff. Quite charming. (****)

  • Malcolm Lowry: Ultramarine

    Malcolm Lowry: Ultramarine
    A posh bloke tries to write about working men and doesn't really pull it off. Somewhat tedious with just occasional flashes of quality. (**)

  • Richard Hughes: In Hazard

    Richard Hughes: In Hazard
    Written just before the outbreak of WW2 this story of a steamer caught in a hurricane is a real thriller and, dare I say it, a bit of a lost classic. (****)

  • Kent Haruf: The Tie that Binds

    Kent Haruf: The Tie that Binds
    His first novel, and the only one I hadn't got round to reading. Definite signs of the genius that was to come. Not quite as spare and economical as his very best work but still quite marvelous. (****)

  • Lucy Inglis: Georgian London: Into the Streets

    Lucy Inglis: Georgian London: Into the Streets
    A wonderful history which really brings to life the inhabitants of 18th century London to life. (****)

  • Éric Faye: Nagasaki

    Éric Faye: Nagasaki
    A middle-aged Japanese man becomes convinced someone is sneaking into his house and drinking his orange juice, among other things. A real little gem of a book. I finished it in one sitting. (****)

  • Igort Tuveri: 5 Is The Perfect Number

    Igort Tuveri: 5 Is The Perfect Number
    Some great images in this graphic novel about a retired mafioso who returns to the game following the death of his son but the writing isn't really of the same quality. (***)

  • Osamu Dazai: Schoolgirl

    Osamu Dazai: Schoolgirl
    Japanese post-war existential novella that, I am guessing, has a bit more impact in its original language. Interesting but slight, and lacks any real clout. (***)

  • Junichiro Tanizaki: In Praise Of Shadows

    Junichiro Tanizaki: In Praise Of Shadows
    An essay on aesthetics from the author of The Makioka Sisters. Some interesting passages and he makes a considered argument against electric light and the way it ruins the look of things. Mind you, this was written in 1933. (***)

  • Ben Watt: Romany and Tom

    Ben Watt: Romany and Tom
    A memoir of his parents. Contains some beautiful writing. (****)

  • Cynan Jones: The Dig

    Cynan Jones: The Dig
    Short, intense novel about a farmer trying to get through lambing season and a badger baiter attempting to evade the law. Told in short poetic bursts. Some wonderful lines in this. I read it in one sitting. (****)

  • Magnus Mills: Three to See the King

    Magnus Mills: Three to See the King
    A wonky, wonderful parable. As if The Woman in the Dunes had been rewritten by The League of Gentlemen. (****)

  • Alejandro Zambra: The Private Lives of Trees

    Alejandro Zambra: The Private Lives of Trees
    An interesting novella from Chile. First half is better than the second half. (***)

  • Charles Lambert: The View from the Tower

    Charles Lambert: The View from the Tower
    Published by Exhibit A books, a specialist crime imprint, but not perhaps the sort of crime novel you'd expect. Romantic and political intrigue in a troubled Italy. (****)

  • Banana Yoshimoto: Lake, The

    Banana Yoshimoto: Lake, The
    As I find with most of her books, this is enjoyable but slight. (***)

  • Diogo Mainardi: The Fall

    Diogo Mainardi: The Fall
    An unusual, experimental memoir. A father writing about his son who has cerebral palsy. He does so in 424 numbered paragraphs, many of which go off on tangents but all seem to find their way back to the subject somehow. Clever without showing off. Moving without being sentimental. (****)

  • Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock

    Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock
    A dark and haunting modern classic. A real shame that the author didn't write any more novels. (****)

  • Wesley Stace: Misfortune

    Wesley Stace: Misfortune
    Oh I loved this. A foundling baby boy is raised as a girl by an eccentric lord in this tale of family secrets, incest, libraries, ballads, forgotten poets, hermaphrodites and sweet revenge. Imagine Middlesex crossed with Crimson Petal and the White. (*****)

  • Heðin Brú: The Old Man and His Sons

    Heðin Brú: The Old Man and His Sons
    A classic novel from the Faroe Islands. An old man gets drunk and bids too much for a load of whale meat. Most of the book is him trying to raise the funds to pay the impending bill. A black comedy. (****)

  • Sophocles (Translated by David Grene): Oedipus the King

    Sophocles (Translated by David Grene): Oedipus the King
    This is the translation I read for A-level. Brought back memories. The centre of the play, when the secret is revealed, remains incredibly powerful. (****)

  • Natalie Haynes: The Amber Fury

    Natalie Haynes: The Amber Fury
    A teacher in a school for expelled pupils wins over the older kids with some Greek classics but then, after all, these are the Greek classics so it is unlikely to end well. A promising debut novel which inspired me to re-read some Sophocles and Euripides. (****)

  • Ingrid Winterbach: The Book of Happenstance

    Ingrid Winterbach: The Book of Happenstance
    A lexicographer is working on a dictionary of lost Afrikaans words when she is distracted by the loss of something closer to home: her collection of rare shells. An unusual novel which deserves a wide audience. (****)

  • John Banville: The Sea

    John Banville: The Sea
    I tried, I really did, but most of this just washed over me (pun noted but not intended). Interesting in places but ultimately a bit dull. (***)

  • Robertson Davies: The Lyre of Orpheus

    Robertson Davies: The Lyre of Orpheus
    The final part of the Cornish trilogy. Perhaps not quite as joyously entertaining as the first two but still marvelous in its own way. (****)

  • Barbara Graziosi: The Gods of Olympus: A History

    Barbara Graziosi: The Gods of Olympus: A History
    Charts the history of the Greek gods from their origins through to the present day. Informative and entertaining. (****)

  • Roberto Bolano: Monsieur Pain

    Roberto Bolano: Monsieur Pain
    Short Kafka-esque romp which becomes somewhat vague and rambling in the second half. Started well, and promised much, but didn't quite deliver. (***)

  • Stephen Grosz: The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

    Stephen Grosz: The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves
    A collection of stories from the psychoanalyst's couch. It was interesting to take this peek into other people's lives (and minds) but it did get a tad repetitive by the end and the lack of any real resolution in most cases left me feeling short changed. (***)

  • Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch

    Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch
    This is good, very good in places, but I had some issues with it. Also, it is 250 pages too long. (****)

  • Lawrence Wright: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

    Lawrence Wright: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
    A study/expose of the Scientology 'religion'. I think it tries to be even handed but it is hard when the founder is quite clearly a con-artist and the beliefs are so fucking daft. Mind you, not much different to all the other religions out there. An absolutely riveting read. (****)

  • Charlie Hill: Books

    Charlie Hill: Books
    Patchy, and sometimes very silly, satire of the book world but I couldn't help but enjoy it immensely. (****)

  • Plato (translated by Walter Hamilton): The Symposium

    Plato (translated by Walter Hamilton): The Symposium
    A bunch of Greek blokes, nursing hangovers from the night before, decide not to get pissed and chat about love instead. Quite sweet really. Nice accessible translation too. (****)

  • Ray Robinson: Jawbone Lake

    Ray Robinson: Jawbone Lake
    Robinson seems to reinvent himself with each book. This time he has written an exemplary literary thriller. The clever bastard. (****)

Big Mouth at the Movies

  • : Me and You and Everyone We Know

    Me and You and Everyone We Know
    Can't believe it has taken me so long to get round to watching such an original and brilliant film. (*****)

  • : The Grandmaster

    The Grandmaster
    Pretty good but not amazing. Stunning visuals and great acting but let down by a rather vague plot. (***)

  • : Les Vacances de M. Hulot

    Les Vacances de M. Hulot
    His most famous film, I think, but probably my least favourite. Not without a certain appeal but is a bit too disjointed to be entirely successful. His better work came after this. (***)

  • : Jour De Fete

    Jour De Fete
    A charming debut from Tati. A few scenes hint at the genius that was to come. (***)

  • : Spirited Away

    Spirited Away
    Watched my favourite film over my birthday weekend. (*****)

  • : Mon Oncle

    Mon Oncle
    Watched this on my birthday as a special treat. (*****)

  • : We Are The Best!

    We Are The Best!
    Swedish film set in the early 80s. Three girls decide to form a punk band. Realistic, honest and rather sweet. (****)

  • : The American

    The American
    Quiet and subtle thriller. (****)

  • : The Usual Suspects

    The Usual Suspects
    My son's cinema education continues with this classic which, it pains me to note, is nearly 20 years old. It still holds up but what the fuck was Pete Postlethwaite doing with that accent? (*****)

  • : 20,000 Days on Earth

    20,000 Days on Earth
    Quite wonderful. Witty, insightful and beautifully shot. I am not a huge Nick Cave fan but this is one of the best music documentaries I have seen. (*****)

Currently Reading

Kindle Sampled

Statcounter