Whiteshift

Whiteshift

Whiteshift, by Eric Kaufman, is an easy book to recommend you read, in part because it is a thoughtful, detailed presentation of some challenging ideas and in part because its subject matter couldn’t (coronavirus aside) be more important. There are aspects to the thesis I don’t accept or understand, but I now accept, more clearly…

The Sheltering Sky, The Damned United, The Raven Tower and Lanark

The Sheltering Sky, The Damned United, The Raven Tower and Lanark

I’ve been busy finishing my third novel. While I was wrestling with it over the last few months I managed to read a few books I’m now ready to recommend. Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, first published in 1949, is the story of Kit and Port Moresby, Americans full of fashionably existential angst deciding to…

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

“In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.” The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood, is one of the best books I’ve read. It’s a delight to be able to say it so soon, comparatively speaking,…

The Wake & Rotherweird

The Wake & Rotherweird

The Green Man figure from the folklore of numerous cultures and religions manifests in these two glorious novels as a righteous and very english force; a saviour of tradition, a keeper of continuity. The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth, is the tale of Buckmaster of Holland, an ‘oxganger’ in the 11th century just as the Normans…

The Southern Reach trilogy

The Southern Reach trilogy

I love Jeff Vandermeer’s work because I love HP Lovecraft’s work. But I enjoy Vandermeer more. Horror describes the ways in which people strive to escape the painful and grisly annihilation of the self. It can be personal or impersonal, understandable or insensate. It can also describe our confrontation with the unfathomable. This last is…

Dark Tales

Dark Tales

Dark Tales, by Shirley Jackson, is a hugely effective collection of short gothic horror stories written in the fifties and sixties. She died in ’65. I confess, like many I’ve spoken to about this book, not to have heard of her until a recent review of this collection, many of which were originally published in The…

The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

“I was brilliant. Not just your run-of-the-mill brilliance either. I was extraordinarily brilliant.” Patrick Rothfuss has written an astounding debut that I cannot unequivocally recommend. Well, that’s not strictly true. I can, but it’s clear why, despite its assured place in the modern canon, it’s divisive. It’s easy to see why the book is captivating….

The Violent Century

The Violent Century

This is a story about superheroes in the second world war and beyond, a counterfactual fantasy. At first you will rightly think of Watchmen and X-Men but Lavie Tidhar has created something here that is more bleak and more noir, as though the X-Men had been re-told by John le Carré.

The Children Act

The Children Act

I’ve written here about my miserable realisation I wouldn’t read more than a couple of thousand books in my lifetime, if I really went for it.  I thus struggle to read more than one or two books by any author because there are so many more authors to read.  How could I read another Philip…