Three quick reviews. I wish it was ‘snap, crackle and pop’ but alas, one book in this trio fell short.
Feel like a story about teens that is aimed directly at adults? The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton is just the ticket. The dialogue is snappy, the teen characters appropriately melodramatic and there’s lots of sexy saxophone symbolism (that’s something I never thought I’d write). Truly, Catton does dialogue very, very well and the thumbnail moments she creates between the teenage girls are a spot-on balance between curiosity, jealousy, fear, and the particular brand of narcissism that teenagers specialise in. It takes a few chapters to get into this story (which happens to be about a sexual scandal between a teacher and student) and although I found the ending weak, the positives make The Rehearsal an interesting read.
Ian McEwan’s The Children Act literally crackles with tension – you’re always waiting for a punch-in-the-guts from McEwan. He is the master of the restrained moral conundrum and what he dishes up in The Children Act is crying out for lengthy book group discussions and dissection long-after you’ve finished the book. McEwan’s trademark cool, restrained delivery plays against a book that tackles big moral issues that you’ll want to think (hard) about. If you enjoyed On Chesil Beach, drop everything and read this.
It’s often said that the key to comedy is timing – that makes it really pop, right? Well, the problem with comedians writing books is that their delivery loses exactly that. Jim Gaffney is a funny man. Really funny. But on the page? Too much. So I read Food: A Love Story in the smallest of increments. A chapter a week. If a sentence a night was doable, I probably would have done that. Because while one joke about souvlaki being ‘drunk food’ or the fact that everything should come with a side of bacon is great, twenty jokes in the one paragraph is too much. You can’t make readers pause for the boom-tish but you can pace your jokes.
The Rehearsal: 3.5/5
The Children Act: 4/5
Food, a Love Story: 2/5