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Everything posted by Minxminnie

  1. Oh that's a shame about Momac - really sorry to hear that. I was very fond of her posts.
  2. Did anyone watch The Big Scottish Book Club on BBC Scotland or iPlayer? (Sadly no longer on iPlayer) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000bc3h It was good: it had a good selection of guests (writers rather than readers) and Damian Barr is a good interviewer. It is my claim to fame that I was his English teacher for a couple of weeks. 😆
  3. I can only say that, as a member, I had drifted away without really noticing, and as a mod, there wasn't much for me to do. Like Hazel, I had other responsibilities and demands on my time. It's an unfortunate aspect of online life that people can drift off and you never know why: I often think that, when David died, we were very lucky to actually find out. I fully understood why the decision was taken to close the site if no-one was able to take it in, but if Tag can do it, it would be great. One thought: on reflection, the fact that it's a web based forum probably puts me off visiting slightly, since most things I visit regularly are app based. If an update offered an app, it might be worth looking at, in case other potential users feel like I do. Of course I have no idea if such a thing is likely.
  4. I'd be happy if the site continued with more focus on books. I don't think a review has to be anything formal. I just like to see that someone else has read the same thing as me and some thoughts on whether they liked it or not. I think it's a shame if anyone thinks they need to write an essay to post on a book.
  5. Minxminnie


    Great pics! Lovely dogs and a fabulous photographer. 😃
  6. I probably don't need to explain too much about this: Booker winner, writer lives in US but grew up in poverty in Glasgow with an alcoholic mother, and this is the subject matter of the novel. It's gritty and grim, and it doesn't shy away from the rough side of life. The bulk of the novel covers Shuggie's childhood in a mining village where they moved to try to help Agnes escape her demons. I suppose it is clever, thoughtful, perceptive characterisation of a woman in crisis. There are definitely set pieces that will stay with me, and the last 100 pages or so were very moving. But it is grim! I found it hard going. I know Stuart says he wasn't trying to write a poverty safari, but that was how it read to me in large chunks. I grew up in a council scheme in the 70s and 80s, and I have taught for 30 years in a community blighted by the loss of mining and heavy industry. There is more light and shade in working class life than he allows for here. Anyone reading this could easily come away believing that council schemes (and tenements) are full of dirty, hungry kids and drunk, promiscuous and abusive adults. There were few of the people I mostly knew: proud people, managing on what they had, keeping their house and their weans pristine. Running a wee car and putting away enough for a fortnight in Benidorm. Kids sticking in at school and being the first in their family to go to uni. Yes, there were men "rotting into the sofa" as he puts it, and there was the alcoholic three doors down who regularly put in the windows. But there was also a collection to help with funeral expenses when someone died, and big kids to walk the wee kids to school. Shuggie Bain had a tough life, but it's hard to take this one dimensional presentation of working class Scotland.
  7. I bought this after seeing JG interviewed by Damien Barr on his book club show: she was talking about the second volume of her memoir, but I thought I would start at the beginning. It is gobsmackingly good, visceral and vivid. She was the late child of an unhappy couple, with an older sister, Cora, who is already an adult when she is born. Cora returns to the family home after (we presume) an unhappy marriage and is a force to be reckoned with. The memoir is a very powerful evocation of a fairly unhappy childhood from the point of view of a child who doesn't really understand that it is unhappy. Some of the scenes have stayed with me and I immediately wanted to order the second volume which focuses on her teenage years.
  8. I'm really sorry to hear this. I'm not on BGO so much any more but I do remember the days when we all talked most days and she was always such a cheerful, positive presence.
  9. I started this a long time ago and abandoned it fairly quickly: I was disappointed, having hugely enjoyed Want You Gone, her first novel. I can't remember why I didn't like it, but I think I felt the main woman was a bit of a drip and lacked agency in her own life. I have read most of her stuff since then and enjoyed it, though not as much as I enjoyed the first one. How strange to have written one book that your readership generally seems to dislike!
  10. Me too. The Aberfan episode was amazing, wasn't it?
  11. This novel was the Times Crime Book of the Month, but it's not, as I found out, a traditional crime book since from near the start, you know whodunnit but just not why. It's more of a character based novel, though there is the traditional detective and investigation. It focuses on the aftermath of a mass shooting and the experience of the shooter's mother and the mother of one of the victims. It just left me a bit flat. It belongs to the sub genre of crime which focuses on the death of a child and the suffering of the parent; there seems to be a lot of this around in TV and film as well as books. The writing is good, but it is slow, and there's just a lot of scenes of women being miserable and grief stricken without this moving the story on in any way. It felt overwritten; there were lots of conversations without real drama or interest, and I got bored and started skimming. I don't understand why it has met with so much praise.
  12. No I didn't think you were criticising! I agree with Heather that many people are put off reading by thinking there has to be rules, like not skipping and finishing a book you start.
  13. I think speed reading is good when you have to read, but not when you want to read. I've never learned to do it, but I think it's something different than skim reading: as far as I'm aware, it's a technique for absorbing lots of content. It's probably good if you need to absorb big chunks, for example for work. It's probably not great for reading fiction for pleasure, I reckon. I also skip bits of some books. Who wrote that books "Rights of the Reader"? One was the right to skip. If it's my book and my time, I'll do what I like.
  14. This was the book of the month in Waterstones, and had breathless praise on the cover from writers and reviewers who I respect. It was an interesting premise: a crime novel from the perspective of the victim. And I do enjoy a novel with a big rambling house at the centre. Tana French can write a great sentence: the problem was that she wrote too many of them. It just went on and on. It started, eventually, with the central character, Toby, being a victim of a beating during a robbery (it even took a while to get there). He then goes to live with his ailing uncle in the family home, the Ivy House. It's not until halfway through the book that the central mystery gets going, and it is eventually solved (for the reader) by the perpetrator deciding to tell the whole story, at some length. I hate this as a plot device: it's as if the writer has written herself into a corner. It just wasn't credible that the character would do this rather than continue to keep the secret, and what the character had actually done wasn't credible either. And it's not very effective to tell such a major story through real time dialogue. After this is resolved, there are still another 100 or so pages to go, and there's another big plot twist which was just unpleasant. I had lost interest but I felt there was a big resolution coming, and it didn't emerge. The story was very repetitive: endless descriptions of the effect of Toby's attack on his vision, lots of family meals and parties. I felt as if she was trying to take the crime novel and do something more profound with it: a character study of the Toby, a reflection on privilege. I did enjoy the writing, and that's what kept me going, but it didn't either observe or play with the conventions of crime fiction, it just mucked about with them, and Toby wasn't interesting enough.
  15. I have just finished this. I was a bit disappointed: the story seemed melodramatic and drawn out, and in tone it was more chicklit than I expected. He kept filling us in on minor characters' backstory when we were in a major character's POV, which really annoyed me. But I did enjoy it in parts. I thought he captured something of small town Irish life (though I am no judge of small town Irish life, to be fair). Auntie Eileen's B&B was a comic masterpiece, and I think he is very good at that sort of thing, a sort of Irish Alan Bennett. I just hope he gets into his stride with his storytelling.
  16. I have got to about p.250 in this but have admitted defeat. It just seems to be lots of stuff happening and people talking, with little of interest. It feels too whimsical and flippant, like a John le Carré rewritten by Alan Bennett. I do like Kate Atkinson but this has been deeply annoying.
  17. Hi Iris, Sorry, I pasted that URL into my browser and it didn't work. Can you paste it as a hyperlink? Click the link icon in the posting box.
  18. I have been looking forward to this for ages: Chris Brookmyre has teamed up with his wife, Marisa Haetzmann, who is an anaesthologist and medical historian, and they have written a historical medical crime novel: sort of gothic tartan noir. I'm always suspicious of novels written by more than one person, but I didn't feel that the narrative voice wavered; maybe they work well together or maybe they have a good editor. The novel is set in Edinburgh in 1847. Will Raven has just started work for Dr James Young Simpson as he begins to use early anaesthetics. Young women are beginning to turn up dead and Raven is drawn into investigating through a combination of personal connections, along with Sarah Miller, the housemaid. These two are set up as a crime fighting duo for a subsequent series of novels. You could roll your eyes at Sarah's proto-feminism if you were so inclined, but I found it fun and credible; she is frustrated by the limitations put in her and also on Dr Simpson's spinster sister in law, and she pushes at the boundaries of what she can do, both personally and professionally. Raven, for me, was less well drawn and less likeable, but I think he can develop in later books. There's a good amount of humour and a lot of grim medical detail: don't read this if you'll be distressed by the reality of childbirth in poverty stricken 19th C Edinburgh. At times, the medical detail could dominate the storytelling. The scene is set very vividly and unsentimentally. Overall, I think it is a clever departure for one of my favourite writers. (He buys his baked beans in the same place I do, so I might get to tell him!)
  19. Hi Sue! There are a good few Scots here. Welcome to BGO!
  20. Sounds lovely Hazel - and even lovelier that you have something of David's there.
  21. Yes they looked soooo annoyed when he did that! It was quite rude, though.
  22. Haha yes! Watching this week again and thinking Robert is getting boring with his "works canteen" style designs.
  23. I remember bench seating being done in a particularly minimalist and austere Grand Designs episode. The husband had his own architect's practice and the wife was rail thin, permanently grumpy and, I thought, very controlling. Everything was made of bare plywood and they had benches instead of sofas, and sliding doors over all the shelves. I may be conflating several different thin, grumpy architects' wives and their houses here - it seems to be a theme on GD. (I'll never forget, or pass up the opportunity to mention, the one who spent 30K on a cooker for her kitchen)
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