READ - BOOK REVIEWS
WE, THE DROWNED
This epic nautical tale follows the inhabitants of Marstal, a town in Denmark, as they navigate continents, generations and a hundred years. Jensen depicts life at sea in elaborate detail, whether describing the day-to-day running of a ship, the discovery of new lands, wars or relationships between crew members. Yet he is perhaps at his best when focusing on the flip side: the emotional toll of a sailor's life on his family back home, wives trying to get by with the mystery of their husbands' whereabouts never far from their thoughts. A wide cast of characters take us through the unremittingly tough stages of life for a man in 19th century Marstal, where many young lads endure a ruthless upbringing beset by constant bullying, harsh authorities and inter-generational strife, before escaping to work their way up the ranks on a ship. Even those who make it to the top through blood, sweat and tears and survive long enough to become old and wise most often wind up lonely and uneasy when back on dry land. We, The Drowned has won numerous awards and is now rightly hailed as a classic.
THE BONE CLOCKS
Fans of Mitchell’s weird and wonderful writing will not be disappointed with The Bone Clocks. As usual, he crams a plethora of places and personalities from past, present and future into a coherent and beautiful novel. We are introduced to runaway Holly Sykes, who is unaware of the crucial role she must play in a cult war between shape shifting soul decanters and a group of vigilantes, led by Dr Marinus. Various other characters become entwined in her life, such as former literary bad boy Crispin, whose satirical view on life provides a hilarious interlude to the action. Serious and topical issues are also touched upon throughout; Holly loses her husband in the war in Afghanistan and Mitchell also gives us a rather sobering look at what the future could hold for us, post climate change. Splicing the normal and the abnormal into a whirlwind journey of fantastical ritualism and human survival, this is a book for the open minded and adventurous reader.
AYOADE ON AYOADE, A CINEMATIC ODYSSEY
The first book by Richard Ayoade, the UK writer, director and actor from shows such as the IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh, takes the form of a conversation with himself. Half of the book sees him interviewing and generally mocking himself whilst also chastening and consoling himself as he battles through his career. This is punctuated regularly with footnotes, taking the form of emails from less than forgiving film directors and fellow actors, as well as obsessive personal lists and satirical notes. He gives us a hilarious insight into the media industry in an intelligent but also refreshingly self-deprecating way, and there are moments of truly strange, unique comedy brilliance that had me convulsing while trying to stifle my laughter on my journey to work.
MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON
I J KAY
This incredible debut from I J Kay is truly unique. It requires a certain amount of patience and imagination from the reader to fully reap the rewards, in part due to the unusual language style, but is well worth the effort. The book leaps around through key stages of the main character’s life, which is as beautiful and fantastical as it is harrowing and gritty. Flicking between council estate struggles and domestic violence to dream like sequences, in which she glides through her treehouse network with her ‘spear’ and her ‘feets’, inspired by her love for Africa, it is hard not to fall in love with Lulu, who has an almost naive and upbeat simplistic outlook, regardless of the surrounding chaos in her real life. As harsh as some of the realities in this book are, the book is a joy to read and left me feeling inspired and wanting to share it with everyone I know, Positive, full of action, touchingly funny and a world seen from a remarkable young woman’s eyes.