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

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

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – a literary mix tape

There’s nothing I can say about Douglas Stuart’s 2020 Booker Prize winning novel, Shuggie Bain, that hasn’t already been said. Know that I laughed, I cried, and I ached for Shuggie, his alcoholic mother, Agnes, and his siblings. This story is raw and tender and hopeful and heartbreakingly sad.

In my tradition of not reviewing books that have a squillion reviews on Goodreads, I have instead put together a mix tape, drawing on some favourite passages in the book. Needless to say, I had dozens to choose from in Shuggie.

5/5 Shuggie has my heart. Continue reading

Normal People by Sally Rooney – a literary mixtape

I became so involved with Marianne and Connell that I never wanted to leave them. If you haven’t yet read Normal People by Sally Rooney, hop to it.

4.5/5 Half a mark off because I didn’t cry.


Mad World | Tears for Fears

Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t know if she would ever find out where it was and become part of it. Continue reading

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Four elements in The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce stood out (and will leave me feeling fondly toward the story) –

01. It’s a book version of The Castle – local shop owners on Unity Street (somewhere in London) battle a property developer, who wants to demolish the existing buildings and replace them with apartments. Furthermore, Frank, who owns the music shop, only stocks vinyl. As CDs begin to take over the music market, Frank holds out.

“CDs aren’t music. They’re toys.” Continue reading

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – a literary mixtape

It’s ludicrous that I haven’t read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote until now. I thought I was the only person who hadn’t read it (although Bonnie fessed up that she hasn’t either).

There’s nothing left to say about this book – it’s genre-defining; it’s clearly a touchstone for many books since (I’m looking at you We Were the Mulvaneys); it’s absolutely gripping; and it’s beautifully written.

So instead of a review, I’m going to retell the story in songs. Of course, you’ll understand my sequence of choices because you’ve read the book. Note: the Flashdance inclusion is relevant for the song title only! Continue reading