Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gimme Fame

How I Became A Famous Novelist (Steve Hely) -piss funny. Really, those two words sum the book up perfectly. But if it will take more than 2 words to convince you, here are a few more: It's about Pete Tarslaw, a character who hovers in the middle ground between Scallywag and Bum. He decides to write a popular novel (not a good one, because that would be too hard and he is all about minimum effort for maximum impact). .

Pete's project is a brilliant foil for Hely to mercilessly caricature the state of the book and publishing industry today, and his jokes are very, very close to the bone. The book is so funny that I had to read huge swathes of it aloud every time my laughing fits caught Tallboy's attention. It made me happy to be a reader.

I sort of wish the ending had been a little more nihilistic; it was a bit of a cop out after the punchy, pacey body of the book but I am being picky. Overall, it deserves 98 out of 100 Laughter Snorts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Publishing Event Of The Year

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides was a very difficult title for me to remember, mostly because the reading copy was covered in the phrase "The Publishing Event of the Year", so that is what Tallboy and I have been calling it. I loved this book so much that I want to use swear words for emphasis, but since this blog is pink it somehow feels wrong. For several years now, I've had people tell me on and off that I should read Middlesex, also by Eugenides. I finally understand what all the fuss is about; Eugenides is a fantastic, rave-worthy author. The Marriage Plot is one of those books that is so vibrant that it feels like a conversation with a live person when you're reading it.


The three central characters each had a huge bagful of flaws but I nevertheless loved each of them and wanted them to live happily ever after. Since they were caught up in a love triangle, this didn't seem likely but I still desperately wanted it to happen. I think this little nugget is the key to the book's success; at least for me.

I read Rip Tide by Stella Rimmington in a day. Not because I was compelled to, but because I was able to. It was ok: a bit slow to start then quite entertaining but nothing amazing. I guess that's why I don't tend to read crime much.

A Discovery of Witches: what a discovery this was! Deborah Harkness has written a book so fabulous and gripping and well-written that I am looking into getting hold of her previous work, which happens to be academic non-fiction. She is a great storyteller, and has managed to write an intelligent novel about witches and vampires. Not being a big fantasy or paranormal reader, I am small-mindedly assuming that this is unusual for the genre.

I like to read out of my comfort zone from time to time, and when I do, I usually end up enjoying what I've read in a lukewarm sort of way (see Stella Rimington above). A Discovery Of Witches, however, is going straight to my wild-eyed, breathless, "I LOVED it!!!!" department. Unfortunately for the people close to me, I will be ranting and raving about A Discovery... for weeks.

Because Harkness is actually an historian, it is an excellent read for anyone interested in history who is after a good piece of entertaining fiction. Despite her obvious knowledge, she doesn't overdo it; the historical detail isn't pushy or gratuitous. To sum up, I evny anyone who has the experience of this book before them!