Nothing is a better barometer of failure than the success of other people.
Calvin Moretti is the reluctant star of Kris D’Agostino’s The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, a story about a guy whose life is going nowhere much. Forced to return to the family home in order to pay back student loans, Cal finds himself in a job he hates but with little motivation to change his circumstances.
Back in my parents’ house, it wasn’t long before I started acting like my high school self. I did nothing, just sat around the house moaning.Continue reading →
Without bringing up the whole Lionel Shriver debate again (and Bill has the best summary of that), I fear Tom Perrotta was writing about stuff that he probably should have left alone in his latest novel, Mrs Fletcher.
In brief, it’s the story of Eve Fletcher, divorced, mother to Brendan and director of a seniors centre. Note that Brendan is a sexist, homophobic jock, who has no intention of changing his party-hard ways as he begins college. Continue reading →
I’m a huge fan of Tony Parsons however I wasn’t a huge fan of Tony-Parsons-goes-tropical in his ninth novel, Catching the Sun.
After a string of events in Britain, taxi driver Tom Finn takes his wife and children to live on the tropical island of Phuket, Thailand. Initially, it’s all the family dreamed of – a tropical paradise where they live simply, with the beach at their doorstep. But both man-made and natural disasters shatter their tropical idyll and the family are forced to reconsider their definition of ‘paradise’.
When I think about Parsons, I think London streets, complex relationships, men trying to do the right thing. To a certain extent, these themes are picked up in Catching the Sun however without the dirty concrete, rain and lagers, the story never quite convinced me. Continue reading →
Matthew Norman’s gone the full Tropper* in his second novel, We’re All Damaged. It’s lad-lit (so expect laughs) but it also has plenty of feels.
The story focuses on Andy Carter, who we first meet as he’s being stood-up on a blind date –
“…she arrived, took one look at me sitting here, and bolted. I can talk to this guy for the next few hours, she could very well have thought. Or I can go home and put on some Crest Whitestrips and watch The Bachelorette.”
Andy’s life has changed from contended Midwesterner with a solid job in insurance and the love-of-his-life wife, to single-guy living in New York, bar-tending to make ends meet. Turns out the love-of-his-life preferred the handsome paramedic down the street. Continue reading →
I finished my 2015 reading year with Paul Murray’s entertaining novel, Skippy Dies. Pop over to Goodreads and you’ll see that it’s been reviewed a squillion times already, so I’m quite sure there is little I can add, except of course my endorsement. And I would like to talk about my favourite character, Mario, a 14-year-old Italian stallion (or so he’d like to think).
Now those familiar with the novel might initially say “Mario…? Who…?” Sure, he was a bit part, just another in the gang of school boys that hung out with the stars of the story, Skippy and Ruprecht. But Mario is bestowed the very best school-boy dialogue I’ve ever had the pleasure (?!) of reading. Continue reading →
I started a new book last week – a much-lauded piece of Australian contemporary literature. Just one chapter in, I had to stop reading. Because clearly it was going to be good and I didn’t (still don’t) have the brain space to focus on the words. All my energy is being directed toward population genetics. Which involves lots of maths and traditionally maths and I aren’t great friends. My lecturer said (in a not the least bit reassuring voice) “This course only requires maths to Year 10 level…” Yeah, well good. Firstly, Year 10 was a shitfull year for me. Secondly, Year 10 maths was a much more recent experience for 99.9% of my fellow students. Anyway, I digress. I needed a book that was fluff. Flatscreen by Adam Wilson fitted the bill.
In short, it’s the story of Eli Schwartz – a twenty-year-old slacker who lives at home with his mother, partakes in recreational drugs, wishes he had a girlfriend, wishes he had his own cooking show, wishes his brother wasn’t so successful and wishes his father would give him more money (to support the aforementioned drug habit). Enter Seymour Kahn, former star of the small screen and current paraplegic sex addict. An unlikely friendship begins that leads to some particularly untidy scenes and a viral YouTube clip. Of course, there’s a moral to the story. Continue reading →