Light All My Lights by Seeker Lover Keeper.
Foyles, Charing Cross Road @ 6.30pm on Tuesday 25th March.
Joining us will be Nick Harkaway and Matt Rudd.
Click the link above for more details. Entry is £5.
Seth MacFarlane: A Million Ways to Die in the West
I suspect it is a lot harder to be funny on paper than on screen as MacFarlane proves here. Mildly amusing novel based on the screenplay for his new movie. I'm sure the movie will make me laugh but this didn't. (***)
Chris Pavone: The Accident
A thriller that pits a literary agent against a CIA agent. Good fun. (****)
Laura Lippman: After I'm Gone
An intriguing crime novel - convicted businessman vanishes, his mistress found dead, cold case resurrected decades later - given a most un-crimey cover. (***)
Andrew Solomon: Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity: A Dozen Kinds of Love
A terrible, terrible cover for what appears to be, so far at least, a fascinating study of parenthood and what we pass on to our kids. Awful cover though, just awful. (****)
Sally Gardner: The Double Shadow
Teenage rebellion in 1930s high society. Great fun so far with a splendid central character in Amaryllis Ruben. (****)
James Wood: The Fun Stuff and Other Essays
On reading the opening sentence to his essay about Never Let Me Go - 'Works of fantasy or science fiction that also succeed in literary terms are hard to find, and are rightly to be treasured' - I knew this was going to piss me off, and it did. Elitist and pompous. (**)
Lucy Inglis: Georgian London: Into the Streets
A nice hefty tome for bedside reading.
Stephane Reynaud: Stephane Reynaud's Book of Tripe
Full of offal recipes. I can't wait to try some.
Simon Morrison: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev
Serge's wife had an interesting life, it seems.
Niall Williams: History of the Rain
Sent to me by a publicist who was raving about it. I am sure she meant it.
Clive James: Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time
I have treated myself to this as I have heard such good things about it.
John Gwynne: Valour: Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen
Big fat historical fantasy novel.
William H. Gass: Middle C
Has appeared in lots of end of year polls but no one seems to have published it in the UK. Thought I'd give it a go.
Lesley Thomson: Ghost Girl
Latest novel from the two-time Book Swap guest.
Michel Déon: The Foundling Boy
A French classic from the mid-70s finally gets UK publication.
Pascal Garnier: The Front Seat Passenger
I've got a nice pile of short novellas by this chap. Should probably read one of them soon.
Dubravka Ugresic: Europe in Sepia
The latest book in my Open Letter Books subscription.
Charles Portis: Escape Velocity
A collection of his journalism, stories, travel writing and other ephemera.
Frank Bill: Donnybrook
Bare-knuckle fighting in Indiana.
Robert Allison: The Letter Bearer
Second World War novel, set in North Africa.
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
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
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
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
A memoir of his parents. Contains some beautiful writing. (****)
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
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
An interesting novella from Chile. First half is better than the second half. (***)
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
As I find with most of her books, this is enjoyable but slight. (***)
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
A dark and haunting modern classic. A real shame that the author didn't write any more novels. (****)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Charts the history of the Greek gods from their origins through to the present day. Informative and entertaining. (****)
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
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
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
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
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
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
Robinson seems to reinvent himself with each book. This time he has written an exemplary literary thriller. The clever bastard. (****)
The Dodo Collection
Both my Dodos titles in one handy ebook omnibus.
Christmas Dodos: Festive Things on the Verge of Extinction
My new book is out now. It will definitely fit in a Christmas stocking.
It Is Just You, Everything's Not Shit
My first book was published way back in 2007 and is an optimist's encyclopedia, of sorts.
21st Century Dodos
A guide to the many inanimate objects that are sadly on the verge of extinction. The Guardian called it ‘chummy 1970s and 80s nostalgia’.
Second time I have seen this. It loses none of its impact really. A real classic. (*****)
Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Relentlessly grim but brilliantly realised revenge drama from Korea. (****)
The Lego Movie
Not actually as good as I was led to believe although certainly better than most animated kids movies. (***)
Beautifully written and acted. A proper delight to watch it again. (*****)
Very dark. Very funny. (****)
Australian indie film from a decade ago. Spellbinding central performance from Abbie Cornish. Well worth seeking out. (****)
Michael S. A. Graziano: Consciousness and the Social Brain
An academic explains his new theory of consciousness in reasonably simple language so that people like me can understand it. And it works. Reading this sample made me want to buy the £20 book. (****)
Colin Barrett: Young Skins
You get one and a half stories in this sample. The first one reveals a strong new Irish voice and I can see this appealing to Kevin Barry fans. For me it treads similar ground to lots of other Irish writers. Good, but it doesn't stand out enough for me to read on. (***)
Taiyo Matsumoto: Sunny: Vol. 1
Great to see a graphic novel on Kindle, and even better to see it follow the 'reading right to left' pattern of the original Japanese version. Unfortunately, the publisher has decided to limit the sample to just a few pages so it is impossible to take a view on whether or not it is worth reading on. A shame. (***)
Dannie Abse: Speak, Old Parrot
You get two poems in this sample which isn't really enough to go on but I guess the publisher doesn't want to give too much away. A shame, as I probably needed a couple more to convince me to purchase it. The two I did read were fine without sticking with me for too long. (***)
Rick Whitaker: An Honest Ghost
A novel entirely made up of sentences from other novels. And it sort of works. The plot may not be the main selling point but the fact that it makes any sense at all is quite remarkable. (****)
Elske Rahill: Between Dog and Wolf
A commendable attempt to capture modern student life, in this case Trinity College, Dublin. As an older reader I didn't really want to hang out with the students in the book for longer than this sample but that says more about me than the novel itself. (***)
Reggie Oliver: Flowers of the Sea
I got about two-thirds of the way through the opening novella - which reads like Sarah Waters crossed with Chris Priestley - before the sample ran out and I had to immediately download the whole thing. (*****)
Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries
Oh dear. I couldn't even manage to finish the sample. Given her very precise and mannered acceptance speech I shouldn't be surprised that this is a very precise and mannered piece of writing. I found to be without any real energy or spark, no wit, very cold and, dare I say it, rather dull. (**)
John Freeman: How to Read a Novelist: Conversations with Writers
A collection of pen portraits based on interviews with famous writers the author has conducted over the years.
Anya Lipska: Death Can't Take A Joke
The second Kiszka and Kershaw mystery.
Robert Shore: Bang in the Middle
A humorous tour of the Midlands.
Stephen Bayley: Charm
An essay about charm. Why we value it emotionally but not financially, its importance throughout history. Available only as an ebook.
Charles Lambert: With a Zero at its Heart
24 chapters. Each with 10 numbered paragraphs. Each paragraph with precisely 120 words. The story of a life.
John Lenahan: Shadowmagic Trilogy
All three books in one volume.
Brian Aldiss: Supertoys Trilogy
His three Supertoys stories, which inspired the movie A.I., in one low-priced ebook.
Steve Berry & Phil Norman: A Brief History of Chocolate
It is short. It is about chocolate. Does exactly what it says on the wrapper.
Tommy Watt: The Best Of
Ben Watt's dad and subject of the memoir, Romany & Tom, that I have been enjoying recently. This seemed like a good soundtrack to that book. (***)
Ghost Maps: The Ocean from the River
Reminds me of James Iha which is no bad thing. (****)
Stars of the Lid: And their Refinement of the Decline
My current music to read by. Quite wonderful ambient moodiness. (*****)
Nina Persson: Animal Heart
Perhaps lacks the dark edge which pervaded her work as A Camp, but I cannot pretend I am not humming these tunes just a few days after first hearing them. (****)
Andrew Fish: Erasmus Hobart and the Golden Arrow
Only free for a limited time. It's about a time-travelling history teacher who goes back to see if Robin Hood really existed.
Tom Reynolds: Blood, Sweat and Tea: Real Life Adventures in an Inner-city Ambulance
The book that inspired the TV series Sirens.
Benjamin Gilmour: The Saint of Pakistan: An Extract from Paramédico
A remarkable look at the work of one unsung medical worker in Pakistan. This is a free sampler of a much longer book in which the author travels the world to work as a paramedic.
Darren Craske: The Equivoque Principle
We've just published the fourth book in this series. This is the first one and is completely free to download.