I recently read, back to back, Ben Aaranovitch’s Rivers of London and Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, the latter a long overdue read for me as a fantasy author. It was because of their similarities that I’m writing about (and recommending them) together.
Here, by Richard McGuire, is no less than the zenith of the graphic novel as an art form. It is one of the most profound things I’ve read.
Hopefully all China Miéville’s novels are as original and engaging as this one. The City & The City is on one level a standard ‘detective investigating death of girl uncovers big conspiracy’ story, but Miéville has decided to weave the tale into a quite unique milieu.
If the horror genre is a journey, then House* of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski, is its destination. I say this not only because it is an attempt to get at the fundament of what is horrifying, but also because the nature of the attempt is an audacious, remarkably intelligent and emotionally satisfying weaving of […]
Hearing that I hadn’t read any of Gabriel García Márquez’s work, when his death was announced, a friend kindly bought me this, as he had Wolf Hall. Clearly, he knows what’s good for me. This twentieth century classic in the magical realist tradition was my first foray into the realm, unless Calvino’s If On A […]
Replay, by Ken Grimwood, tackles the classic ‘What if…’ scenario: “What if I could live my life over again?” It treads a path between the wonderful Star Trek episode ‘The Inner Light’ and Groundhog Day. Jeff, the book’s protagonist, is going to ‘replay’ his life more than once, unlike Picard; but unlike Phil Connors, he’s […]
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, is a masterpiece. It is one of the best books I will ever read. I know this because I’ve lost count of the times I’ve paused over a page, muttered ‘Fuck off’ at the sheer and dazzling quality and control of the form and the narrative, and then carried on reading, […]
So, I’ve popped my Haruki Murakami cherry, having heard from a number of different sources about this writer and his cult following and magical prose. Norwegian Wood is a story, set in Japan, of a teenage boy, Toru Watanabe, in love with a girl, Naoko, who we learn is schizophrenic and with whom he shares […]
What would you say constitutes great writing? For a practising writer like me, good writing isn’t just about what is enjoyable to read, but also about the choices a writer makes when they select words to convey their message. I thought I’d try to articulate what great writing looks like to me, using an author […]
Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan, is a cyberpunk-noir detective thriller of the ‘locked room’ variety. If you want steam rising out of your grates in grimy streets straight off the ‘Blade Runner’ mood boards and a bosomy femme fatale in a plot full of twists and turns then stop reading and go buy it, because as a debut novel, […]
City of Saints and Madmen, by Jeff Vandermeer, has been labelled ‘avant-garde fantasy’. It is. The city is the star; Ambergris is a violent and gothic-romantic ecosystem, the inhabitants of which live in a fearful symbiosis with the deeply mysterious ‘Greycaps’. These underground dwellers were initially displaced by the founders of Ambergris from the much older city that it grew […]
Spoiler free. Rest easy… Hugh Howey is in the enviable position of the author who self-published with a good enough book, got a buzz going and then took off into the stratosphere – publishing deal! film in the offing! I’m delighted for him. It reminded me afresh that all the self-marketing in the world isn’t […]
The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane is a book about walking country paths. I know, that’s what I thought, and I only bought it because writers of the stature of John Banville named it as one of the books of the year on its release last year. But then I started reading it, and I was […]
The Stress Of Her Regard – Tim Powers Byron, Keats and Shelley – check. Vampires – check. Life or death adventures through London, Venice, Rome and the Alps – check. As with the other Tim Powers novels I’ve read (The Drawing of the Dark, On Stranger Tides and Last Call), The Stress Of Her Regard pits […]
I’ll share my thoughts and recommendations here of great books I’ve read. Here are three I’ve read recently, I’ve not read a bad book in a while it seems ;) The Intellectuals and the Masses – John Carey “The tragedy of Mein Kampf is that it was not, in many respects, a deviant work but one firmly rooted […]