Books

Review: Beachcomber by Stephen Thom Rating 78%

Review: Beachcomber by Stephen Thom

Beachcomber, the opening track off Dante’s most recent album is also the title of several things including a poem by George Mackay Brown and more recently the title of a book of short stories by Dante’s mandolin strummer, Stephen Thom. This limited edition collection of stories are poetic and intrinsically linked to the Mackay Brown poem in that it too looks at the cycle of life, but less so from a fishing and agricultural perspective. Modernised and up-to-date we see all sorts within this gem, mental health, relationship break up and heartache and alcoholism just to top it all off.

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Review: See What Can Be Done by Lorrie Moore Rating 75%

Review: See What Can Be Done by Lorrie Moore

Better known, perhaps, for her fiction, Lorrie Moore has also been writing criticism for over thirty years. See What Can Be Done, the long awaited first collection of her non-fiction writing, brings her work over this period together in one place, and it’s a jam packed four-hundred pages.

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Review: Mrs Osmond by John Banville Rating 75%

Review: Mrs Osmond by John Banville

I begin this review with a confession: I’ve never read Henry James’s perceived masterpeice A Portrait of a Lady and until five minutes ago I didn’t know what it was about. Following a quick read of its Wiki synopsis, I really wish I had read it before Mrs Osmond. In this follow-up to Portrait, John Banville begins where James left off, with the eponymous Isabel in London following her illicit trip to visit her dying cousin, now hatching a rather complicated plan to regain her independence, money, and right a few wrongs along the way. If Portrait was about a wedding set-up, Mrs Osmond is about a divorce set-up, as Isabel herself states: “What I seek is not revenge, but a reckoning.”

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Review: Gone by Min Kym Rating 65%

Review: Gone by Min Kym

The opening sequence of Min Kym’s memoir reads like that of a television drama. It begins with the main action, the reason we’re here in the first place: to read about the former child prodigy violinist’s ordeal when her beloved instrument was stolen from under her feet. It is a smart move for a memoir, and the action, staged as a dream – or rather, a nightmare – reads well. Immediately we are introduced to what will become a regular feature of the book: the personification of Kym’s Stradivarius. “No one comes to tell me whether my violin is alive or whether my violin is dead.” If this is an attempt to emotionally involve this reader, it has worked.

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Review: The Neighbourhood by Mario Vargas Llosa Rating 20%

Review: The Neighbourhood by Mario Vargas Llosa

The best thing I can say about Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Neighborhood is that in it there are some interesting descriptions of Peru’s murky political climate in the 1990s. That, and it was mercifully short.
The Neighborhood is a story of corruption, infidelity, sleaze and violence. When businessman Enrique is blackmailed by a journalist, a chain of events are set off that eventually lead to the downfall of government. Set in Fujimori-era Lima, this is a novel that has, at its heart, an interesting premise. It is a tale of hypocrisy, of a rotten society infecting rotten individuals. High and mighty politicians and respectable businesspeople descend into lies and infidelity, whilst the gutter press act with an unexpected integrity in a society ruled by fear.

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Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder Rating 100%

Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder

What do women want? It is a question that, throughout the history of literature, mostly men have asked and mostly men have answered. With the cultural landscape finally seeming to shift, more works by women are getting published. This is an overdue embarrassment of riches, where women’s internal emotional lives and external struggles are being given the same appreciation as the near-exclusively male canon, without being pejoratively dismissed as chick lit.

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Review: The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy Rating 95%

Review: The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy

How do you make a life after a life? This is the question at the centre of Deborah Levy’s second instalment in her “living memoir” three-book series. The first part, Things I Don’t Want to Know was Levy’s forties, The Cost of Living is her fifties, and the third, yet-to-be-published, book will be her sixties. It’s an ambitious project to document her middle ages, a period of time that is rarely documented in art if experienced by a woman.

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Paul Sng: The idea for the book is really drawn from people that feel they have been misrepresented

Co-curated by Laura Dickens and Chloe Juno, the director of Dispossession and Sleaford Mod documentary, Invisible Britain, Paul Sng, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a book of forty documentary images, along with forty stories, Invisible Britain: Portraits. Focussing on those that don’t get their stories heard, who are much affected by social issues this is an interesting project from the independent film director.
Paul spoke with The Fountain about the process, the titling behind the publication and his long-term future plans to enable stories from working class backgrounds to emerge and be told.

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Review: The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan Rating 90%

Review: The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

There are some themes developing in Kirsty Logan’s work: fairy tales, the sea, and pure magic. In The Gloaming, her second novel in a catalogue that also includes two short story collections, a contemporary fairy story ebbs and flows across many maritime references, focusing on the water that gives life and takes it away. The magic comes in the form of Logan’s bewitching prose – a partly mythical setting, unique description, poetic language and a thrilling voyage.

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Review: Big Dog, Little Dog by Elodie Jarret Rating 90%

Review: Big Dog, Little Dog by Elodie Jarret

This charming lift-the-flap book, not to be confused with the 1973 P.D. Eastman book of the same name, is a new title from French-Swedish illustrator Elodie Jarret, known by the pseudonym Élo. As well as illustration, Élo is also a soft furnishing designer and art director, among other things. It therefore seems fitting that this book, published by Walker Books’ Studio imprint, should be so stylish and clever in its delivery.

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Review: Gail Honeyman and Sarah Winman, Aye Write 2018 Rating 87%

Review: Gail Honeyman and Sarah Winman, Aye Write 2018

Two acclaimed word of mouth bestsellers, Sarah Winman and Gail Honeyman, took to the stage of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to discuss the pressures that comes with this success, reading extracts from their most recently published. Sarah, a former actress, who had great success with When God Was a Rabbit several years back and Gail, who recently won the Costa Award for her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, addressed a packed out venue, who were highly engaged with the regaling and insight into writing.

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