Catching up on reviews

I always have the best intentions to write thorough reviews of the books I read, but time is in short supply in December and I’m nine reviews behind… So, quick thoughts on a bunch of books: Continue reading

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

There are a handful of books that I enjoyed so much when I first read them, that they have taken a reverent place in my reading life. And while I want to experience that particular reading pleasure again, re-reads can be like returning to the ‘perfect’ holiday spot – somehow it’s not quite what you remembered, despite the main ingredients being the same.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt is one such book. I first read it when it was released in 1992. Like the characters, I was at university, wholly absorbed in campus life and a circle of friends who were new, but immediately close. I recall being engrossed in the story, but not much of the detail other than the fact that one of the students was murdered, stayed with me.

Religious slurs, temper tantrums, insults, coercion, debt: all petty things, really, irritants – too minor, it would seem, to move five reasonable people to murder. But, if I dare say it, it wasn’t until I helped to kill a man that I realized how elusive and complex an act of murder can actually be, and not necessarily attributable to one dramatic move. Continue reading

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Truly, there is nothing new left to say about Bret Easton Ellis’s generation-defining novel, Less Than Zero. And, despite having a bunch of options for week one of Novellas in November, I decided to re-read Less Than Zero, purely because I am absolutely engrossed in the podcast Once Upon a Time at Bennington College (to the point where I’m waiting for each new episode to drop). The podcast examines the years that Ellis, Donna Tartt and Jonathan Lethem were at college together, and specifically, the people and events that inspired characters in both Less Than Zero and The Secret History.

So, this is not a review but rather a collection of Less-Than-Zero-associated-thoughts: Continue reading

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

Someone has said, When you are born into this world there are at least two of you, but going out you are on your own. Death happens to every one of us, yet it remains the most solitary of human experiences, one that separates rather than unites us.

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez is a story about assisted dying. It’s a complex topic and frankly, not one that I am going to explore on this blog. However, I was attracted to this book because of the topic – I want to read about it, I want to think about it, but I don’t want to ‘review’ it. And there’s lots to say about aspects of this book other than assisted dying. Continue reading

French Exit by Patrick deWitt – a literary mix tape

I mentioned how slow I’d been to write a review of French Exit by Patrick deWitt. I read it in February – can’t remember much except that I laughed out loud and loved every moment. So, a mix tape instead…

4/5 Dark and hilarious. Continue reading

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second Place was my introduction to Rachel Cusk. I quickly became engrossed in the story and wondered why I had expected her writing to be impenetrable. Where had this impression come from? Other readers? Reviews? Her regular appearance on literature award lists? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised – no, relieved – to find Second Place highly ‘readable’. No persistence required. Continue reading