Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov

Can a book be historical and dystopian at the same time? Yes, it can. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (trans. by Angela Rodel) is nothing short of mind-boggling, recreating twentieth century history, alongside an imagined future, where we have the capacity to choose which decade from the past we live in.

The premise of Time Shelter is relatively simple – an ‘enigmatic flâneur’ named Gaustine opens a ‘clinic for the past’ as a way of treating Alzheimer’s – each floor of the clinic reproduces a decade in minute detail, transporting patients back in time to a period that felt safe and familiar.

…for us the past is the past, and even when we step into it, we know that the exit to the present is open, we can come back with ease. For those who have lost their memories, this door has slammed shut once and for all. For them, the present is a foreign country, while the past is their homeland. The only thing we can do is create a space that is in sync with their internal time. Continue reading

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

I spent the first half of Patricia Lockwood’s No One is Talking About This thinking “What…?” (similar reading experience to Fun Camp by Gabe Durham). And at some point I updated my progress on Goodreads by noting that I didn’t think I was cool enough for this book… because what the hell was going on? And then SUDDENLY it shifts gear, and the first part of the book sits in stark contrast to the second.

Something in the back of her head hurt. It was her new class consciousness. Continue reading

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

Is there a sub-genre of dystopian fiction called ‘it-could-happen-within-a-decade-dsytopian-and-that’s-why-it’s-terrifying’? If so, it’s my favourite sub-genre. And we can file The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall there.

Without revealing too much of the story, it’s about a woman named Mim, whose husband Ben is missing. Everyone wants to find Ben, particularly The Department (the all-seeing government body who has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip in the palm of their hand to keep them ‘safe’). When Ben can’t be tracked, Mim is questioned; made to surrender her passport and those of their children, Essie and Sam; and is threatened with being taken into ‘care’ at the notorious BestLife (which is essentially a branded detention centre). Mim goes on a risky quest to find Ben. Continue reading

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan sure does have the corner on the middle-class-white-men-having-existential-crises market, doesn’t he?

In Machines Like Me, McEwan conjures a world not quite like the one we know. It’s the eighties in Britain – the Falklands War has been lost, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – a midlife crisis, a town, and violent children

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week I’ve selected three from the last pages of my Kindle (meaning they’ve been there for years!) – I have no idea how I came across any of them. Continue reading

Some Tests by Wayne Macauley

A few years ago, I decided to get to the bottom of my frequent migraine headaches. It was the beginning of an eight month process of tests (mostly ‘ruling things out’), visits to four doctors, and various medications and procedures. My experience ended with an iron infusion which ultimately made all the difference to my migraines, however, there were moments on this medical merry-go-round when I thought I was wasting my time and money.

Wayne Macauley captures this exact situation in his strange novel, Some Tests. Continue reading