This is a delightful comedy based on the unlikely plan to release salmon into a river in the hot and dusty Arab state of Yemen. It deals with the nature of faith and the boundless optimism of hope, whilst also promoting the application of technical skills to a seemingly insolvable problem. And it has a sly dig at politics and the duplicity of politicians.
Continue reading Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, by Paul Torday
I have mixed feelings about Ernest Hemingway. I loved Farewell to Arms but struggled through To Have and Have Not. And Hemingway himself was the kind of man I despise: a shooting, hunting, fishing type who loved bull fighting and drank too much and equated all these nonsensical pursuits with masculinity. So, mixed feelings.
The Sun Also Rises was Hemingway’s first full length novel. Finished in 1926 and told in the first person, the book is loosely based on a trip that Hemingway made to Spain with a group of friends to see the bullfighting during the Pamplona Fiesta. Continue reading Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
The subject of the story is Buddy Bolden, a black American musician living in New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century. Buddy was famous for his cornet playing and for being one of the early pioneers of jazz music. Continue reading Coming Through Slaughter, by Michael Ondaatje
When the book begins, we see the world through the eyes of the grown up daughter, Rahel, returning to her family home to visit her mute twin brother, Estha. Then we flash back to the twins’ childhood and there are a serious of lengthy passages where the histories of various members of her family are described – the awful great-aunt, the frustrated grand-father, the divorced mother, the spoilt uncle, etc. The timeline bounces back and forth. We know, very early on, that someone died in the past Continue reading The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
This book is set in a mythical mid-European country. It opens with a 10 page travel guide to the imaginary city of Slaka and the first chapter follows with an account of a plane touching down on the tarmac. Aboard the plane is a Dr Petworth. He may or may not be an important character in the story to follow. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you whether he was, nor can I tell you what happened to him – as I read no further Continue reading Rates of Exchange, by Malcolm Bradbury
This book was published in 2000 but, the story is told in the first person and was ‘narrated’ during the 1930s. There is an authentic, old-fashioned feel to the writing. It is not a particularly easy read, being told in a non-linear fashion and with complexly constructed sentences. It took me some time to get into it.
The narrator – Christopher Banks – is brought to England as a small boy, after both his parents disappear. Initially, it is unclear whether he is, or isn’t, one of the orphans alluded to in the title. Continue reading When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The book begins with a first-person ‘Foreword’, describing how the author came to be enrolled in this particular school – the Dorset Academy, and ends with a first-person ‘Afterword’, describing what happened to the author and to some of his school-mates Continue reading A Good School, by Richard Yates
This book contains two long short-stories:
1. Somewhere a Band is Playing is a strange little story, with the main character being an aspiring journalist who sets out to report on a small town that is destined for demolition.
The tale blends romance with mystery, and features a town of immortal egyptian characters who hold the knowledge of the books of long-lost libraries in their memories. Part horror story, part fantasy, part ghost story Continue reading Now and Forever, by Ray Bradbury
I am ashamed to confess: I have never read this story. I saw the film, of course. But I never read the book. It is universally regarded as a great story and, when I saw it in my local library, I had to take it out.
Yes. It is a wonderful story. Here are some things that surprised me and some things that delighted me, in no particular order: Continue reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote