‘Eve is superior because she was created after Adam. God didn't take backward steps so Eve must be an improvement.’
Welsey Stace - Misfortune
Elizabeth Bishop: Poems: The Centenary Edition
None of these poems annoyed me, which is always a good start, but none of them moved or inspired me in any way. (***)
Daniel Allen: The Nature Magpie: A Cornucopia of Facts, Anecdotes, Folklore and Literature from the Natural World (Icon Magpie)
A most interesting miscellany and not without some humour. An ideal bedside or fireside book. (****)
Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train
Heading off for a week of writing so thought I'd read this on the train.
Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train
Entertaining thriller but I saw the twist coming from a long way off which lessened the impact considerably. A decent weekend or holiday read though. (***)
Noson S. Yanofsky: The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us
Looks at the stuff right at the edge of what we can understand, compute and reason across mathematics, physics, philosophy and linguistics. I managed to comprehend about 70% of it. It stretched me but I enjoyed the stretching. (****)
Jonas Karlsson: The Room
Bloke finds unused room in his office and goes there when he needs a few minutes' break from his humdrum job, only no one else can see the office. They think he is off his trolley. Delightfully droll satire, reminded me of Magnus Mills. (****)
Irene Handl: The Gold Tip Pfitzer
Sequel to The Sioux and picks up, in both plot and tone, pretty much where the last one left off. (***)
Irene Handl: The Sioux
The Benoirs are an extremely rich French family living in New Orleans who rally round one of their number when her marriage hits the skids. Handl has created an intensely annoying but oddly compelling cast of characters. Impressive if not entirely pleasurable. (***)
Seiichi Hayashi: Gold Pollen and Other Stories
A beautifully-produced hardback highlighting some of the work of one of the acclaimed 'alternative manga' artists of the 60s and 70s. Unfortunately the stories themselves are either poorly translated or just don't travel well. A shame as it looks gorgeous. (**)
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Lost At Sea
Bought this for Ethan's birthday but gave it a sneaky read before wrapping it. Good, but not as good as his more recent books. (***)
Walter M. Miller Jr: A Canticle For Leibowitz
Cracking post-apocalyptic fiction with lots of monks. (****)
Bryan Lee O'Malley: Seconds
Lent to me by my son. A colourful, weird and wonderful graphic novel. Great fun. (****)
Go-Betweens: G Stand for Go-Betweens: Volume 1
A remarkable box set charting their first three albums as well all the material, some extremely rare, that came before and during. For fans only, obviously, but an absolute treat. (*****)
Gazelle Twin: Unflesh
Disturbing sounds. Like a much darker Bjork. I am hooked. (*****)
Paul E. Hardisty: The Abrupt Physics of Dying
The first release from newly formed Orenda Books.
Mathias Enard: Street of Thieves
Follow up to his novel, Zone, which was just one very long sentence.
Michael Henry Heim: The Man Between
Essays, interviews and tributes by and about a man who was at the forefront of translation for many years.
Olga Sedakova: In Praise of Poetry
Poems and essays from one of Russia's most acclaimed modern poets.
Nicci Cloke: Lay Me Down
Man and woman fall in love. He gets a job working on the Golden Gate Bridge. She joins him in San Francisco. But no one told him about the jumpers, the suicides, and the effect they would have on him.
Colin Barrett: Young Skins
I read a couple of these when I was sent a proof and thought they were OK but nowt special. It has since won the Guardian First Book Award so what do I know?
Jacques Strauss: The Curator
A family massacre in 1970s South Africa has repercussions years later.
Adam Foulds: In the Wolf's Mouth
Four men make their way through WW2.
Emily Bullock: The Longest Fight
A boxing novel.
Rob Magnuson Smith: Scorper: A Novel
A novel set in Ditchling. I have been to Ditchling. Eric Gill, the typographer and paeodphile, lived there for a while. He appears in this book, apparently.
John Fowles: The Journals: Volume 1
Having just read Eileen Warburton's excellent biography of the man I thought I would dip into his life in his own words.
Been meaning to watch this ever since I saw Betty Blue back in the 80s but only just got round to it. I feared it would be all style over substance but it actually turned out to be a pretty good crime thriller. (****)
Subtle and brilliantly acted. Liked it a lot more than I expected to. (****)
An OK movie elevated above the norm by two excellent performances. (***)
Great bit of timey-wimey nonsense. Liked it a lot. (****)
More Than Honey
Interesting documentary about bees. Didn't blow me away but kept me watching. (***)
I thought this was going to irritate me but I ended up being quite charmed by it. (****)
Our Day Will Come
Bonkers road movie in which Vincent Cassel goes off on one in revenge for discrimination against redheads. Or something. (**)
Supposedly Fellini's first masterpiece but it was painted with too broad brushstrokes to work its charm on me. The off-putting dubbed dialogue and sound effects didn't help either. (**)
Inspired, ambitious, bonkers. (****)
Only just got round to watching this. It is ridiculous but lots of fun. Also, an amazing about of subtitled dialogue for a major American film. (****)
Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli and Fritz Lang star in a beautifully shot but terribly pretentious movie. Palance is awful throughout. (**)
Was this a box office flop? I think it might have been. Shame, it was very good. (****)
Jennifer Clement: Prayers for the Stolen
Bold and brutal novel about young women in Mexico forced to hide from the drug barons and their henchmen. (****)
David Grossman: Falling Out of Time
Unusual novel written like a cross between a play and a long poem. Not sure about it yet. Will persevere. (***)
Tamasin Cave: A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain
Revelatory look at the secret goings on behind the scenes, over dinners and in hotel lobbies between politicians and big business (and others). (****)
Horatio Clare: Down To The Sea In Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men
Written while he was writer-in-residence for Maersk. Contains containers. And some pretty good writing so far. (****)
Daniel Handler: We Are Pirates
A book for grown-ups from the Lemony Snicket chap. Was OK but didn't really do it for me. (***)
Antonia Honeywell: The Ship
Interesting dystopian novel. A bit different to the usual fare. (***)
Michael Booth: The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
Amusing look at Scandinavia and its, supposedly, cheerful content people. (****)
Jerry White: Zeppelin Nights: London in the First World War
We all know about the Blitz but this tells the lesser-known story of the attacks on London during WWI. (****)
Dave Bara: Impulse: The Lightship Chronicles
Refreshingly old school slice of space opera. (***)
Brooke Davis: Lost & Found
Curious Incident meets Harold Fry meets 100-Year-Old Man. (***)
Michael Christie: If I Fall, If I Die
Will has never been outside because his mum is an agoraphobic. Until today. Then all sorts of things start to happen. (****)
Emma Hooper: Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Twee premise but the actual writing has a lot more grit and substance to it. (****)
Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train
The blurb says 'Gone Girl meets Rear Window' and it might just be telling the truth. Rather gripping so far. (****)
Edith Pearlman: Honeydew
Splendid opening story to this collection. (****)
Jonas Karlsson: The Room
Kafka/Beckett/Kaufman/Mills-esque office satire. Lots of short chapters. Really enjoying this one. (****)
Ana Kordzaia: Me, Margarita: Stories
Frustratingly vague. (**)
Ian Plenderleith: Rock 'n' Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League
Hugely enjoyable romp through the history of the ill-fated US soccer league of the 1970s. (****)
Rainbow Rowell: Landline
A woman tries to fix a crisis in her marriage by communicating with her husband in the past. A neatly observed sort of time travel book. I am enjoying this a lot. (****)
Yuri Lotman: Non-Memoirs
Memoirs of a Russian semiotician about whom I know nothing. Doesn't stop this collection of autobiographical writings any less interesting though. (***)
Timur Vermes: Look Who's Back
Brilliant satire in which Hitler wakes up in 2011 and tries to work out what has happened to both himself and Germany. Naturally, everyone assumes he is a comedian and he becomes a YouTube sensation. (*****)
Alice Hoffman: The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Set in a freak show. I like freak shows in fiction. This is no exception. (****)
Thalma Lobel: Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence
A look at how our senses influence our daily lives. Some great examples and anecdotes. (****)
Jaime Clarke: Vernon Downs
A young man becomes obsessed with a famous writing. Promising. (***)
Victoria Williamson: You Are the Music: How Music Reveals What it Means to be Human
Fascinating look at the psychology of music. How it affects us, what it means to us etc. Looking forward to reading the whole thing. (****)
Warren FitzGerald: Tying Down The Sun
Parallel stories of an Amazonian tribeswoman and a backpacking student eventually converge in this second novel from FitzGerald. (***)
Miranda July: The First Bad Man
I made it about a third of the way through this quirk-fest before I had to give up. It was just too quirky. Even for me. Bit of it were great but a novel's worth of her odd style is hard to take. (***)
21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (and Other Stuff)
Now out in paperback!
The Dodo Collection
Both my Dodos titles in one handy ebook omnibus.
Christmas Dodos: Festive Things on the Verge of Extinction
A yuletide take on my Dodos theme.
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.