Sunday, 2 March 2014

February Reading

Here's wot I read in February ...

Stoner by John Williams – Well it had to eventually. The hype got me. Lost classic they said and everybody and their aunty is jumping in to agree. But sorry, Stoner didn't do it for me. I can see why people might be getting so excited about this book – it is full of insight and elegant prose BUT the main character, the titular Stoner, needs a bloody good slap. He's far too passive, allowing nasty colleagues at work to undermine him and most unforgivable of all, allows his manipulative wife to ruin his daughter's life. Where was the character development? The worm should have turned and then the title of lost classic would have been well earned.

The Stillman by Tom McCulloch – Middle-aged man, barely tolerated by his wife, his son's behaviour is getting weirder by the day, the island of Islay is in the grip of a winter storm and letters arrive from Cuba from his long-dead mother. Lyrical, touching and funny. McCulloch conjures a great sense of place and a fascinating description of a man and a marriage on the slide.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – A friend of mine was banging on about this so much I had to find out what he was on about – and boy am I glad I did. What a fantastic read! This is an epic, full of characters you are bound to fall in love with and a depiction of Bombay so authentic that when you put the book down and walk out your front door you almost expect to be faced with a dancing bear, a huge traffic jam and the cast of a Bollywood movie.

Sure, it's not perfect. The author's prose tends to the purple and his philosophising can at times come across as a lecture – but set these grumbles aside and you are in for a great time while reading this book.

Sense of Direction – Gideon Lewis Kravs

A fascinating travel memoir as young Gideon goes walkabout , quite literally, looking for a sense of direction on his life on the Camino and in Japan. He portrays his own actions with an admirable honesty and with wry humour. I found his internal monologue hard work at times, but that says more about me and my lack of erudition. All in all, well worth a read.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Epic fantasy that fans of George RR Martin and David Gemmell will lap up. I lost a Sunday to this book. Quite literally couldn't put it down. Loved it!

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Clever, clever lady that Belinda is. I love it when an author takes risks and comes up with a wholly original plot. This book won a slew of awards. Now I understand why. Great stuff!

The Deep Dark Sleep by Craig Russell

Quality stuff. Imagine that Bernie Gunther is now Canadian and living and working in 1950s Glasgow and you have some kind of idea what is going on here. Has everything I look for in a crime novel – characters you want to spend time with, humour, strong prose, pace and a plot that keeps you guessing. In a nutshell? High quality stuff. Oh, I said that already.

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