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

Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

I realised halfway through Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, that the ‘story’ went well beyond the novel I held in my hands. It’s one of those books that, as I was reading, I was side-tracked by internet searches. And if you’ve read Case Study, you’ll know that the Googling (and I absolutely couldn’t help myself) highlights just how clever Burnet is.

Case Study is told from three perspectives. It begins with Burnet, who describes how he came across charismatic psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite, and was then contacted by a stranger in possession of notebooks belonging to one of Braithwaite’s patients. The stranger urged Burnet to tell the patient’s story and, although Burnet was initially concerned about the authenticity of the notebooks, he did some fact-checking and took on the task. 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

Novellas in November

Novellas in November is hosted by Cathy of 746 Books and Rebecca of Bookish Beck.

Cathy and Rebecca have set a category for each week – there are no rules as such (although they suggest that 150–200 pages is the upper limit for a novella, and post-1980 as a definition of ‘contemporary’).

I’m going to use Novellas in November to whip through some of my towering TBR stack. I have lots to choose from. Here are the possibilities: 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

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If I had the energy to rewind to all of the blog posts from December 2020 titled ‘Most anticipated books of 2021’, I suspect that Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid would feature heavily. Because even if Daisy Jones & The Six wasn’t your usual genre, there was something appealing about it – the nostalgia, the music alive on the page, the glamour and grunge of the industry.

Reid has used the same ingredients for her latest novel, Malibu Rising, but unfortunately the result lacks the magic of Daisy. I’m not sure why because the ‘ingredients’ are solid – professional surfers, Malibu beach, set in the eighties – but these scene-setters were diluted with too many superfluous characters, and a house party that is described in laborious detail (a stark contrast to the first half of the book which covers decades of the family’s history). Continue reading