Tag: Jim Crace

Monthly Review – November 2013

Posted November 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 5 Comments

the bone peopleNow that November is coming to an end, I feel like I need to breathe a sigh of relief. I feel like I’ve been in a major reading slump during this month, but on reflecting it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, there was a period of a few weeks where I struggled to finish anything but in the end I was able to manage nine books; not too bad.

Let’s have a quick look back at the month for the book club on Goodreads and our book of the month, The Bone People.  I went into this book not knowing anything about it, I never heard of it and glad I was able to read it. This was a controversial and confronting book and as readers of this blog know, I do enjoy a confronting read. If you missed the conversation about this book, head over on to Goodreads, there is still time to join in.

Next month we are in for a mystery, when we look at And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I’ve not read any Christie so this will be a new experience for me. I hope it is a nice quick and enjoyable book to read over the holiday period. If you’re not aware, the book discussion and everything else will be happening over on the Goodreads forums, so feel free to join in there.

As I said before, this was a difficult reading month for me; not that I didn’t like the books, just an annoying slump. Check out my thoughts about reading slumps in this post if you are interested.  I had a great month in October; I did enjoy some interesting non-fiction books this month. Highlights include The Know-It-All and Perv. As for fiction, I think I did better with the lighter books, like Moon Over Soho and The Martian. How did you go this month?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Spring 2013 TBR List

Posted September 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

toptentuesdayIt’s Tuesday again which means time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday; I like joining in of this meme because I have a set topic to work with. Top Ten Tuesday is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week the theme is: Top Ten Books On My Spring 2013 TBR List. I’ve already done a post similar here but I’ve already read two of them, so I can recycle three of them and pick another seven more.

10. The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner
A new psychological thriller in the tradition of Before I Go to Sleep and Memento, P.D. Viner’s debut is looking like it might be an interesting read. Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered, the killer was never found and the case is now cold. Her parents’ marriage fell apart as a result of it, but now a new lead has been found and rekindles an obsession for revenge.

9. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Nathaniel Piven is a rising star in the Brooklyn literary scene, after several years of learning he now has his pick of assignments and women. Debut novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of the modern man and offers up a literary romance that is both intelligent and witty. I hope this book is a novel of struggles, discovery and anxiety that comes with romance and the literary scene.

8. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Sixteen-year-old Nao decides she wants to escape the loneliness and bullying of her classmates. But before she ends it all she decides to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Across the pacific Ruth finds some artifacts washed ashore from the 2011 tsunami that pulls her into Nao’s drama. Ozeki explores relationships, the past and present, fact and fiction in this contemporary novel.

7. Skinner by Charlie Huston
Growing up, Skinner wasn’t like other boys. Appearing to have no emotions, he seemed to be powered by reason alone, a robot that could be programmed to do whatever its master wanted. No surprise that as an adult he didn’t seem to fit it. Until he came to the attention of the CIA, and they realized they had stumbled across the perfect assassin. His speciality: protecting human ‘assets’. His method: ensuring that the price a rival agency paid for acquiring the asset always outweighed the asset’s worth. In other words, he killed everybody involved, and then some more, just to make the point.

6. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

5. The Explorer by James Smythe
When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers. But in space, nothing goes according to plan. The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.

4. Harvest by Jim Crace
On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village awaken looking forward to a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner’s table. But the sky is marred by two conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion.

3. The Never List by Koethi Zan
For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

2. NW by Zadie Smith 
Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners — Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan — as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

1. The Siege by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Cadiz, 1811. Spain is battling for independence while America is doing the same. But in the streets of the most liberal city in Europe other battles are taking place. A serial killer is on the loose, flaying young women to death. Each of these murders takes place near the site where a French bomb has just fallen. It is the job of policeman Rogelio Tizon to find the murderer and avoid public scandal in a city already posied on the brink.

My Thoughts on the Man Booker

Posted September 7, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

man booker 2013The shortlist for the Man Booker Prize will be announced soon (September 10) and I thought I might talk about my feelings towards this prize. While I have a love/hate relationship with literary awards in general I seem to really like the longlist this year, but this hasn’t been always the case. My problem with literary prizes is that they feel more like popularity contests rather than judging books on their literary merit. Don’t get me started with the Stella prize because that is an argument that might give you the wrong idea about me (I do have similar problems with all awards that are exclusive). I digress and need to get back to the Man Booker Prize.

This prize is weird and I can’t get my head around it, some years there are a few books in the longlist that are so popular they you can’t help but know they would win; example Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies and then other years (like this one) the longlist is so unusual and surprising that you have no idea what to expect. I don’t want to care about the Man Booker but really can’t help but get wrapped up with the hype. There have been some winners that were surprising and I ended up loving; Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending is a great example of this. But I tend to be less interested in the winner and more interested with the longlist, I have a goal to one day read the entire longlist in that year. I don’t know if this will ever happen but I think it could be fun to try.

I’ve found some really interesting books in the long or shortlist; I personally think Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home was more deserving of the award last year than giving it to Hilary Mantel again. Last year’s longlist had some surprising books as well.   The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman was completely unexpected and I knew it was one I had to read, completely bizarre and full of unlikeable characters but brilliant. This year is no different, a mixed bag of books; I suspected TransAtlantic by Colum McCann and The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton might be favourites but I’m more interested in the unusual books like The Kills by Richard House, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

I have no idea what will make the shortlist or what the favourite is for winning. I also don’t know how many of the books from the long list I will read as; of the announcement I had only read one. and now two. I would love to know what people have read and what they are predicting for appear in the shortlist or even to win. I still have no idea how I feel about the Man Booker Prize, I will continue having mixed feelings of it being a popularity contest, joining in on the hype and getting excited about the unusual books that make the list but never win. I know I didn’t really answer the question of how I feel about the Man Booker because I really don’t know but I will love to hear some arguments for and against this award.

This year’s Man Booker prize longlist

  • Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Harvest by Jim Crace
  • The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
  • The Kills by Richard House
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Unexploded by Alison MacLeod
  • TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
  • Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson
  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
  • The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín