Review: Snowdrops

Snowdrops
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, another one finished, my Man Booker 2011 pile is getting lower! This one, without a doubt, is my favourite yet. The writing is succinct and full of great descriptions: “With a boy-band fringe, a ten-thousand dollar suit, and a murderer’s smile. He was equal parts twinkle and menace.” I would’ve given it five stars, but the end it needed didn’t appear – it was clear where the book was going very early on, the characters did their part and stumbled towards their finales and as I put it down, I felt more of a “pfft” that an “aah”! That said, I haven’t enjoyed an authors voice so much since Anne Michaels’s “Fugitive Pieces”. A very impressive debut novel and, in my opinion, worthy of the praise, which is why I’m somewhat curious about the number of one and two star reviews on this site – different things for different people I guess…

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Review: The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book at the weekend, having only pulled it off of my Man Booker pile during the middle of the previous week. This says a lot; normally books take me weeks to complete, but this one got me hooked and kept the pages turning. It’s part road movie (on horses), part western (gold prospectors and saloons) and part buddy buddy (well, except the buddy is his brother). There’s also a touch of magical realism (Gabriel Garcia Marquez doesn’t have to get worried yet), double dealing and bad boss men, and all told with a unique and interesting voice. I liked it a lot, so much so, I finished it in a handful of days. I’ll certainly be looking out for other works by the author!

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Twisted Tales

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, so I’m pleased to say I’ve got something new for you all. The novel was taking up a large part of my spare time so I decided to take a little break and return to writing a few short stories.

‘Twisted Tales’ presents eight unique stories united by endings with a twist. It features three new short stories and edited versions of his existing five shorts.

This collection contains the following stories: ‘Wind in the Trees’, ‘Old House’, ‘The Man Who Could Replicate Himself’, ‘Dying With My Children’, ‘The Operation’, ‘To Kill the President’, ‘Extramarital’ and ‘Body Recyclers’.

Distraction over, it’s back to the novel. I hope you enjoy!

Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Moonstone is a who-dunnit, told through various people’s diaries and reminisces. I loved the start of the book. Betteridge’s descriptions were excellent, especially when he briefly talked about his wife, but once his voice was reduced, the story started to plod and I did find it quite a challenge to finish. That said, it is a novel of its time and is still worth reading.

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Platform

Pacing on the far platform, arms bundled for protection against the dawn chill, her every movement, each expression, beguiled me. That day, and the next, the train stole her. On the third, she saw me. On the fourth, she smiled.

Groomed after a forlorn weekend, I catch my enchantress frantically scanning the platform whilst her carriage pulled away. She sighed as she found me, no time to wave.

Today, like yesterday, my heart is content; waving, she tenderly blows a kiss. Her arms protect her bundle, our child, before the train carries them off, returning them home to me tonight.

Review: The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was poorly today so picked a novel off the shelf and curled up on the sofa with a Lemsip. Julian Barnes’s “The Sense of an Ending” probably wasn’t the lightest choice I could have made, but the writing, particularly in the earlier sections was beautiful to read. Like many things that win prizes, books or films, I’m curiously surprised that it has been so lavishly praised. Yep, gorgeous writing with a rhythmic lilt, but for such a short novel, the story did seem to drag as I headed towards the finale.

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Course Decisions

At school, timetable clashes forced me to choose between art and biology. I told my wife this to justify my ignorance, but she was intolerant, shouting obscenities and slapping me at every opportunity. We had organised a water birth, so a rainy afternoon, gridlocked on the North Circular wasn’t a substitute. Nevertheless, helped by Google and memories of a Casualty episode, I delivered little Cooper, all on my own. Even so, this achievement didn’t tame her incessant nagging. Thankfully, there were two consolations: we were in her Mini, and whilst waiting for the ambulance, I shot some fantastic Leibovitz-style photographs.

Father

My father went to buy a paper when I was six and never returned. Occasionally I wonder how he is, what he’s doing. My memories are of a giant, cradling me during a bedtime story, kissing my forehead, whispering secretively into my ear that I’m his favourite. I can’t picture how he’d look now.

One day, a letter arrived unexpectedly. ‘I’m dying, I want to make amends.’ He’d moved to London but the cancer destroying his body prevented him from travelling. My sisters saw him last week and said goodbye.

Today, I’m on the train. I’m going to Edinburgh.