Category Archives: contemporary

The Bellwether Revivals, by Benjamin Wood

Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin WoodThis is the first published novel by one of my Birkbeck tutors.

And, because the author is one of my tutors, I was nervous before I read it. What if I didn’t like it?

I needn’t have worried.

The story is crackingly good and involves a lowly care worker, Oscar, who falls under the spell of the Bellwether family. Specifically, he falls in love with Iris Bellweather and becomes enmeshed with her charismatic brother, Eden. Continue reading The Bellwether Revivals, by Benjamin Wood

Will Self, Dr Mukti and other tales of woe

I love seeing Will Self on television. He has an excoriating, acidic wit and delivers lacerating commentary on current affairs with searing insight and refreshing dollops of cynicism. He is also frighteningly intelligent, uses plenty of big words and does not dumb down in a false pretence to be just ‘one of the lads’.

This book is a collection of stories. The longest story, Dr Mukti, is a 130 page novella. The remaining stories are shorter. As you might expect, the tales are dark and brutal; unpleasant characters inhabit inhospitable urban landscapes and do nasty things to each other. Continue reading Will Self, Dr Mukti and other tales of woe

Ian McEwan, Solar

I have been faint hearted in my praise of Ian McEwan in the past. Mainly because I find it difficult to feel involved in his books – with his detached tone and slow build up.

But I loved this book.

What did I like?
The anti-hero was convincingly portrayed. I almost expect to meet him in the street.
The themes were contemporary; solar energy, big business, academia.
And most importantly – it was very, very funny.

What didn’t I like?
The ending left me wanting more ….

This Book Will Save Your Life, A M Homes

Just finished reading this book.

I have to confess, I chose it for its title. Who could resist that catchy hook and the doughnuts?

A good read – I couldn’t put it down – but not a great book.

Things I liked:

The opening premise, the view of LA life, the relentless pace, the many different interwoven strands, the page-turning hooks.

Things I didn’t like:

Although told as a first person narrative, there was little opportunity to understand the thought process of the narrator. I wanted to believe in this lonely, control freak of a man, but I realised from the narrative voice, a few chapters in, that the author was a woman.

Things just seemed to happen to him and he suffered from many significant external events – each one would have caused his life to change anyway. There were too many unexplained teasers, and unresolved plot arcs, by the time we reached an unsatisfactorily disconnected ending.