Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Holy Hand Grenade

The Book: The Good Man Jesus & The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

The Review: "A small gem, or given it's explosive story and exquisite artistry, a hand grenade made by Faberge"

The Reviewer: Sunday Times

The Verdict: Despite it's controversial origins (Pullman choose the story of Jesus as part of the Canongate 'Myths' series) this book completely failed to detonate for me. Thankfully the ludicrous review above helped me put this book to good use:
"Lobest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it" Monty Python & The Holy Grail

Friday, 28 October 2011

Not So Different After All

The Book: Room by Emma Donoghue

The Review: "Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it's over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days."

The Reviewer: Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife (and someone who should know better)

The Verdict: After finishing Room, you will indeed look up (of that I am certain), however I imagine it will merely be to question what went wrong with this promising little book. It's not that's it's bad, it's just nowhere near as important as it thinks it is.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Vernon 'Oh God make it stop' Little

The Book: Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

The Review: "Reading this book made me think of how the English language was in Shakespeare's day, enormously free and inventive and very idiomatic and full of poetry as well"

The Reviewer: John Carey, Chair of the Booker Judges

The verdict: Ah, yes, John Carey must be thinking of that original version of Hamlet where every third word was "fucken" and Laertes blew smoke up Horatio's arsehole.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Healthy appetite

The Book: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Review: "If I could eat this novel, I would."

The Reviewer: Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

The Verdict: This is a bit like when people say a baby is so cute they could "eat them up" - a bit twisted really. What's worrying is that Alice Sebold is a very talented writer herself, and yet there were no other quotes from her review good enough to go on the cover of this novel? You could say that should have been a warning to me not to read this book.
I did not heed this warning; you should.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A great Christmas present, but don't propose with it.

The Book: Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb.

The Review: "In today's crowded fantasy market Robin Hobb's books are like diamonds in a sea of zircons."

The Reviewer: George RR Martin
The Verdict: After approximately 240 pages of scene setting, there is a well constructed, entertaining plot. It does not rise above the level of a good fantasy novel, however.

Monday, 29 August 2011

You Don't Love This Book Yet

The Book: You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
(the third trendy Jonathan, after Franzen and Safran Foer, before Tropper)

The Review: "A gentle and hip romantic comedy . . . Witty and charming, You Don't Love Me Yet breezes through LA's iconoclastic anonymity with a refreshing sincerity."

The Reviewer: James Urquhart, The Independent

The Verdict: Allow me to translate.

"A gentle and hip romantic comedy . . . breezes" = Disposable

"Witty and charming" = Trying to be witty and charming

"LA's iconoclastic anonymity" = The characters are taken from a checklist of hipster stereotypes and you are given no reason to care about any of them.

"Refreshing sincerity" = Can only be facetious. At least the jacket blurb indicated how contrived the whole thing is when it invoked "delicious echoes of Jane Austen's Emma". (There aren't any delicious echoes of Austen.)

Lethem hints at some interesting questions regarding authorship, conceptual art, criticism and success. Like diamond earrings lost at the end of Glastonbury, if you want to dig through all of the hipster effluent, they're yours.

Monday, 25 July 2011

DANGER: Read This Book At Your Peril

The Book: Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

The Quote: "I read my eyes out"

The Reviewer: Anne McCaffrey

The Verdict: It wasn't until I was halfway through the book that I noticed this quote at which point I became distinctly worried. There was still too much I wished to read. I'm too young to lose my sight.

Having now finished the book i'm happy to say that while I enjoyed it immensely I did not 'read my eyes out'. There is still 5 books to go however . . .