Sunday, June 29, 2014

Holiday Reading

Not a very adventurous holiday. Just felt a bit like escaping into easy stuff. But these are the books that kept me company this last fortnight. Mark out of ten indicates escapism, enjoyment and in its genre - not simply for literature value.

Mark Billingham
From the Dead
Nice little thriller. Woman comes out of ten year jail term for having her husband killed. Then he turns up. Page turner. Bit of a twist. (6)

William Boyd
Spy thriller. Beautifully written. Flitting backwards and forwards between modern Cotswolds and Second World War, a woman finds out who her mother really is, what she did in the war and who still remembers. (7)

Dave Eggers
A Hologram for the King
Sparse prose and slow moving. Salesman Alan Clay, in Saudi Arabia trying to clinch a deal, has to do a lot of waiting around for the people to whom he needs to present. Has the USA lost the knack of impressing foreigners? Have the Chinese somehow got it? If you like Magnus Mills you'll love this. (8)

Susan Hill
The Shadows in the Street
A Simon Serailler whodunit. Prostitutes disappear. Many characters with motives are sketched out. The Deanery Close is full of manoeuvring. Not as well done as P.D.James but good fun nonetheless. (7)

John Grisham
Theodore Boone - The Activist
Although not explained on the cover this is a Grisham children's novel. Now I quite like such books. Good to have some to recommend to younger readers. Not this one. Wanted thirteen year old Boone to die horribly. He is an adult who has been drawn as a child, behaving as adults would wish. This is horrid children's writing. An adult writing a book about a child to keep children in order. (4)

Lee Child
Never Go Back
Jack Reacher goes back to meet a woman who he can only say 'Has a nice voice'. Amazing. Turns out she's a looker, fancies him and can also take care of herself. 500 pages later the world is slightly safer, several motel rooms have been abused, the bad guys have their fingers broken and I am back in Gozo, poolside. Can't complain. (6)

David Sedaris
I'd recommend hearing Sedaris read some of his prose before embarking on a story collection. He has one of those voices that makes you expect something funny. You won't be disappointed. At least five laugh-out-loud moments and I never do that because then you have to explain or read to the other residents and you can't do the accent. The final story, from which the collection is titled, is his adventures with some nudists. 'The absence of clothing made it very hard to describe people. You couldn't say 'Who's the uncircumcised gentleman with all the hair on his ass?''(7)

Kate Atkinson
One Good Turn
In Edinburgh during the festival a few people witness a road-rage incident. Not everyone who has something to report does so because they were up to no good themselves. Then the witnesses start disappearing. Good combo of whodunit and whatdidtheydo. (7)

Gabriel Garcia Marcquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Well you friends and followers know that I try to take something improving with me on holiday. Maybe a classic that I missed or the work of a lauded writer who is known to be hard going. Don't say 'What kind of a holiday is that?' Especially if you go skiing and come back with broken bits. Yes you. You know who I'm talking to. Suffice to say that I'm glad I read it, will probably never read anymore by Marcquez (who recently passed away), quite enjoyed it but, and it's a big but, this is the hardest book I've ever finished. Three page paragraphs and forty word sentences are the norm. Will write a longer post on the impact of this later. (8)

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