Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thanks and happy reading!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I'm a big Margaret Drabble fan so it is hard for me to say I was disappointed by The Sea Lady. Humphrey Clark and Aisla Kelman met as children by the seaside in England. Now in their sixties they are on their way to meet again - one of them unwittingly - by the same seaside.
They were very different sorts of children and, unsurprisingly, became very different sorts of adults. Humphrey grew up to be a marine biologist, while Aisla became one of those people well-known through their books and television appearances but famous for their shocking opinions and flamboyant publicity stunts. This is the story of their two lives, the ones they lived between the two bookend meetings of this novel.
Drabble told the story she set out to tell quite well, as she always does. The trouble was it wasn't the story this reader most wanted to read. I was more interested in what would happen to Humphrey and Aisla now that they had met again, rather than all that preceded this meeting. Unfortunately I wanted this story to begin right at the spot it ended.
First line of The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble: "The winning book was about fish, and to present it, she appeared to have dressed herself as a mermaid, in silver sequinned scales."
Monday, November 3, 2008
I found this to be a beautifully written story about the secrets and betrayals and love within a family. The language was lyrical and original, the story compelling. I felt is deserved the 2007 Man Booker Prize and look forward to reading other novels by Anne Enright.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Earlier this year I read an interesting book called How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore. One of the topics covered was self-publishing so I was excited by a book sent to me to review that took that route. (I could very easily get way off topic now and start preaching about the wonderfulness of the DIY movement but I'll save that for another time.)
The book is a short story collection called Down to a Sunless Sea and was written by Mathias B. Freese. Nine of the fifteen stories in this slim volume have been published in literary journals so this book nicely straddles the two worlds of publishing. As well as being a writer Mathias B. Freese is a psychotherapist and it shows in many of these short stories. Freese is most interested in the inner workings of his characters and deftly handles examinations of their thoughts and reasonings. He is particularly gifted at inhabiting the minds of those who feel on the margins of society, such as the crippled narrator in "I'll Make It. I Think."
The strange and universal land of childhood is also richly explored in this collection, sometimes by narrators who are children, such as Herbie, the wannabe shoe shine boy desperately trying to please his father in the story "Herbie" or by adult narrators remembering incidents from their childhoods, as happens in "Alabaster" the story of a man recalling his meeting with a concentration camp survivor years previously. Freese understands the allure and mystery of childhood. As the narrator of the story "Echo" states: "In hindsight, which is how we live our lives, not how we make sense of them..."
In case you can't read the stickers on the book jacket in my photo, Down to a Sunless Sea was awarded an Editor's Choice Award from Allbook Reviews and was a finalist for the Indie Excellence Book Awards. Wow! Congratulations to Mathias. If he keeps this up he'll be a famous writer before he's dead! To learn more about Mathias B. Freese and his books visit: http://www.mathiasbfreese.com/
First line of Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese: "While a young child growing up in Brighton Beach, Adam would go shopping with his mother on Brighten Beach Avenue."