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Found 11 results

  1. What is a Bone Clock? A bone clock is a person, maturing and ageing. Starting as a weak and helpless baby, becoming strong, getting wise, getting frail, dying. And because you can tell a person's stage of life just by looking, they are a bone clock. Simples. In The Bone Clocks, just as in Ghostwritten, we find a series of separate stories with a thread of connection, But whilst Ghostwritten jumps across space, The Bone Clocks jumps over time - although there are a fair few different locations too. There is a common thread - far more so than in Ghostwritten or Cloud Atlas, but there is
  2. I had expected to be writing a gushing review exhorting people to read a great novel from one of Scotland’s liveliest writers. I have loved almost everything Ali Smith has written. Alas, How To Be Both has not hit the mark. Basically, it is two novellas, stitched together. In one of them, we find a 15th century Italian girl, dressed as a boy in order to pass herself off as a painter, working on frescoes for the local Duke. This girl, who adopts the name of Francescho, spends time exploring her sexuality in brothels, consorting with a pickpocket, and demanding more money. Oh, and she is dea
  3. Richard Powers can clearly write. In Orfeo, we find a semi-retired avant garde composer, Peter Els, filling his empty days setting up a home laboratory and cultivating bacteria. He has only his dog, Fidelio, for company. Fidelio dies and Els’s life starts to unravel. Most specifically, the Federal Government starts to take an interest in the bacteria. Els doesn’t trust the Government to accept the innocence of his experiments in these days of heightened sensitivity. So Els does what every rational 70 year old would do: he sets off on a literal journey across the country and a metaphorical jo
  4. The Lives of Others is long. Way too long. This sprawling Indian family saga charts the rise of the Ghosh family, Calcutta industrialists, as they accumulate wealth in the paper and publishing industry and then proceed to lose it as their country disintegrates and their investments fail to pay off. Against this backdrop, the sons and daughters of the family squabble. The backdrop is good. There is a wonderful insight into the politics of change; the sleaze; the corruption; the instability. We see the contrast between the young Turks of the Communist Party ranged against the old order of the
  5. Dr Paul C O'Rourke DDS is a New York dentist. He's brash, he's arrogant and he's got a view on pretty much everything. He has a failed relationship with his practice manager Connie and an unhealthy obsession with the Boston Red Sox. In this comic novel, O'Rourke initially comes across as a 50 something dinosaur, taking pride in his technophobia, eschewing the internet and popular culture. As the narrative goes on, however, it seems that O'Rourke is more likely to be in his 30s and not quite as ruddy ruddy as he makes out. Nevertheless, it is a surprise to him when he finds his dental practice
  6. The Blazing World is presented as a series of documents charting the life of Harriet (Harry) Burden, a lesser known New York artist. These documents, drawing heavily on a series of notebooks kept by Burden herself, have supposedly been collated by an art historian. The broad thrust of the piece is that Burden felt herself marginalised as a woman and therefore chose three men, each to present one of her installations as their own work. These three collections garnered favourable reviews. As so often happens in these assorted document type novels (Michael Arditti’s Unity comes to mind), the ini
  7. Dorrigo Evans is a war hero. Not only did he survive the Burma Railway, he inspired his fellow POWs as they battled for survival on The Line. He is an old man, doing the speaker circuit. Everyone he meets is happy to see him; everyone he meets is awed. Dorrigo is the personification of the Australian establishment. But rewind to his days of youth; his training to be a doctor; his enlistment in the Army and training outside Adelaide; his life and his loves. Dorrigo started out as a mere mortal; a regular guy with his virtues balanced out by his failings. He has a touch of self-depracating arro
  8. On the surface, History Of The Rain is beautifully crafted. Ruth Swain, probably twenty-something and a university graduate, lies in bed in the attic of her family's County Clare home, quietly dying. Probably. Perhaps to fill the boredom, she decides to tell her family history. Armed with a few facts, she invents and hypotesizes; creates dialogue, meetings, motives... She has access to her father's library of books, numbering over 3,000, which she references painstakingly throughout the story; and she has an obsession with the Salmon of Knowledge. Ruth has a lively, playful voice and engages i
  9. The Dog takes the form of an interior monologue on the part of our narrator, a successful corporate secretary type in Dubai. Like all interior monologues (think James Kelman, for example), one’s enjoyment of it will depend on whether or not you “get” the narrator. In this case, the narrator is not a nice man. A New York attorney of Swiss heritage, he has found himself running the sizeable fortune of the Batros family – an elderly Beiruti businessman and his two shady sons. Our narrator, who goes to some lengths to conceal his name (which is probably Xavier), takes a fairly hands-off approach
  10. The Wake bills itself as being a novel unlike any other you will read. This, I suspect, is true. Set in 1066 at the time of the Norman Conquest, we meet Buccmaster of Holland. Buccmaster narrates his story is a strange hybrid of Modern and Saxon English. The spelling is heavily stylized and Paul Kingsnorth has gone to some lengths to make it fit with a consistent set of rules – albeit rules based on his own logic. The language is mostly supposed to be words of Saxon or Germanic origin although Kingsnorth tells readers that he has made some compromises. The text can be hard to read at first bu
  11. It really is not possible to discuss this book and what makes it so fascinating with spoilers, so I'm just warning everyone that I haven't spoilered some important information. Also, thanks for Clavain for suggesting this book. SPOILERS FOLLOW. DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT THE SPOILERS. The book is narrated by Rosemary Cooke, who is about 40 when she is writing the book. She starts when she is a 22-year-old student (in 1996), then goes backwards for awhile and, at the very end, forward in time. It's not as confusing as it sounds. The central issue of her life was the disappea
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