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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz
Publisher: Corsair
Publication date: 20 September 2012
IBSN: 9781780338675

I haven’t read a book like this in a long time. It’s a heart-string puller, but not in the annoying way that many chick-lit books attempt to be. It’s truthful, stark and at moments chilling. I’d read Reservation Road by Burnham Schwartz prior to this for an American Modern Fiction lecture at University, and as much as I enjoyed it, it didn’t grab me in the same way that Northwest Corner did.

The book follows five characters’ tales, making up very much one solid story: Dwight, Sam, Ruth, Emma and Penny.

Dwight Arno is a fifty year old man. He works as a manager at a sporting goods shop. His Life seems simple,but it is far from it. 12 years before, Dwight is complicit in a terrible accident and a cover-up which lands him in prison for a substantial amount of time. He lives alone in California, dating a woman who knows nothing of his past and seems unable to move on from his tragedies. He has a son and an ex-wife who he never sees. That is, until one day, Sam turns up on his doorstep.

Sam is in college. Or at least he was. A star athlete with the physical attributes of a lithe, gorgeous god, he is certainly a young man I wouldn’t say no to meeting. But he’s not cocky, he’s not a jock and  he’s certainly not happy. Self-deprecating and broody, he struggles to live with the consequences of his past, a past lain out for him, without any way of him changing it. And then Sam makes his own terrible decision, an in-the-moment devastating act that sends him running to the front door of the man he thought he’d never want to see.

Ruth, the mother and ex-wife. With her own battles, a cancerous attack on her femininity, who is frail in body but strong in mind. Sam is the apple of her eye and her every mood can depend on his smallest of actions. A baseball bat to a stomach sends her world spiraling and memories cascade into her everyday narrative.

Emma, the sister of a killed boy. Spending summer at home helping her mother. A chance meeting with Sam brings their history to the surface.

Penny is Dwight’s lover. It’s not serious and it might already be over before it even really began. But his revelations get her thinking about the future.

I think the reason I was so taken with this book was the use of language. It was absolutely beautiful, lyrical and fluid. It’s a book for those quiet moments, that deafens out the commuters, the trains and the children who won’t stop crying that you’d like to punch in the face.

Breathtaking.

4/5

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Whilst my TBR pile is ever increasing and I’ve still got 80 pages left of my current read (Northwest Corner). I am now planning my future library. Here’s some ideas:

Dreaming.

Absolutely amazing shelving idea.

Are the books even reachable?

Luxurious gothic library.

So which do you think I should go for? Maybe just a mix of them all.

So who’s buying me a house?

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Publisher: Corsair
Publication Date: 16th August 2012
IBSN: 9781780339139

This little beauty was my back to work (only after the weekend…it’s not like I’ve been on maternity leave. Can you even imagine.) read and what a quick read it was. A short-feeling 208 pages after a list of much longer books and with its stylish lay out – i.e. missing out loads of pages – I reckon it only came in at about 180.

I’m always a bit wary about reading Japanese translations, I’ve read the odd book that I’ve not identified with at all or the culture has seemed too alien. I’ve also read some that have been fantastic. It can be very hit and miss. I don’t know if it’s just me, but every single one that I’ve read involves prostitution.

Well hello, fantastic. Nice to see you again. This book was stark, snappy, honest and thrilling. It follows a pickpocket who’s cruising through life one rich man’s wallet at a time. His compelling first-person narrative quickly slots itself into your psyche until the anonymity of a thiefing lifestyle doesn’t seem so strange anymore. The thing is, he gets himself into a bit of a sticky situation. One harmless crime too many and now pure danger is nipping at his heels.

The protagonist is smart, likeable and sitting on the oustskirts of the community. But can he get himself out of this pickle? You’d better read it to find out then.

Oh and by the way, I feel like this today:

“Good thing I’m so fluffy.”

A Wanted Man by Lee Child
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication date: 30 August 2012
IBSN: 9780593065730

So today is the day that the Starbucks red cups came out. It is now officially christmas time. And I am a sucker for soya toffee-nut lattes. Don’t worry, I realise that makes me a prick. But being a special occasion, and the fact that my housemates are never home anymore, I decided to shack up in Starbucks for a while after work and finish my book. Said book being A Wanted Man.

I can never fault Lee Child for giving me an easy and compelling read. He is, after all, the ultimate master of the single-word-sentence. Bam. Yeah, you liked that, didn’t you? If I were to pick a bone with the series as a whole, it would be that, once read, each book is barely distinguishable from any of the others. Pair this with similar, non-descript titles and it can be very difficult to remember which ones you’ve read. So read ’em all, I say.

Book 17 begins with Jack Reacher, a 6″5 ex-military cop, trying to hitch a ride. INTERLUDE – can I point out that Tom Cruise was picked to play Jack Reacher in the film adaptation. Tom fucking Cruise. How tall is he? Nowhere near 6″5, the height of the REAL Jack Reacher which is mentioned a gazillion times in all 17 books. Ok, Interlude over – as you can tell Tom Cruise makes me very irate. With a recently broken nose, bandaged with some good old duck tape, Reacher is not setting himself up for an easy hitch-hiking experience. So who picks him up? Two men and a woman.

The book flips between Reacher’s road-bound narrative and that of FBI agent Julia Sorenson. There’s been a murder. One man dead, two suspects. And the continuing presence of nosy outside agents shrouds this death in mystery.

Reacher, with his sharp military eye, picks flaws in his car-companions and after an extensive blinking session, works out the woman’s secret code. Karen Delfuenso has been kidnapped. At the same time, Sorenson’s case gets murkier and murkier.

A few of gun-shots later and nobody is who they first seemed to be. And finally, Sorenson and Reacher cross paths.

I would like to point out that there is no sex in this book. This Mr Child, I think is a serious mistake. One reads a Jack Reacher novel expecting a lot of violence and at least a smattering of sex. And there were TWO viable women in this book. And no sex.

Nevertheless, an enticing tension builds between Sorenson and Reacher as they set out to solve this intriguing mystery against many opposing forces.

All in all, this book was ok. It felt a little static considering the amount of driving in the novel. I kept wondering when the action was actually going to hit – which it does in a thrilling climax, but a little too late and a little too lack-lustre.

In Lee Child style, here’s my short sentence round-up: Page-turner. Gripping. Not exactly ground-breaking.

3/5