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Watch Out, The World's Behind You "Rick" (Manchester, England)

Page: 1
by Rebecca Hunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Bold, bleak and brilliant, 28 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Everland (Paperback)
This is a wonderful novel. It delivers richly on the promise of 'Mr Chartwell' (her previous book), and kept me enthralled throughout. I enjoy accounts of polar exploration ('The Birthday Boys' is one of my favourite books), but I don't think that's necessary to appreciate 'Everland'; all you need is an interest in humanity and a pulse. Hunt weaves two narratives - one from 1913, one from 2013 - which begin to echo each other eerily. Both Antarctic expeditions are comprised of three people, both groups consist of two no-nonsense practical types and one dreamer, who the others fear is unfit for polar exploration. The way that the groups interact, and the choices that the polar wilderness forces upon the characters, is fascinating. The Antarctic is superbly portrayed, almost a character in it's own right, by turns stunning and hostile, mesmerising and haunting.

The book asks the reader to examine their own moral integrity. How far would you go to save the life of someone that is slowing you down? Would you risk certain death to show loyalty to someone you don't respect? The extremity of the circumstances, in combination with the characters desperately human flaws, cause the complacent morality of the old world to crack like ice sheets. The construction of myth and history through narrative, and the possibility that, whatever your actions, they may be interpreted and distorted in the telling haunts 'Everland'.

It is a bold, brilliant book, portraying an almost unimaginably strange place, populated with six flawed, decent, very human people. It looks at human actions and morality with an unflinching bravery that is rare in contemporary fiction.

Buy it. Read it. It will keep you company for a long time.

Where I Left My Soul
Where I Left My Soul
by Jérôme Ferrari
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, Dark and Beautifully Written, 11 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Where I Left My Soul (Paperback)
Jerome Ferrari is fairly unknown in Britain, despite having won the Prix Goncourt for his previous novel, 'The Sermon on the Fall of Rome'. This wonderful, perfectly translated novel deserves to change that. Despite its brevity (158 pages), 'Where I Left my Soul' tackles huge themes with subtlety, compassion and deep intelligence. How can a good person stay true to his morals in a bloody war? Which deserves more loyalty; universal principles of justice, or the men of flesh and blood who fight on your side? Does the hatred involved in war inevitably corrupt everyone involved? Is torture ever justified?

I read voraciously, but this is certainly in my top ten novels of all time. The contrast between the cynical, corrupted Andreani, with his skewed moral compass and burning hatred, and the idealistic, naive and divided Degorce is compelling. The disjunction is emphasized by the differing writing styles; Andreani's highly charged sense of personal grievance contrasts with Degorce's more impersonal journey into the heart of darkness.

This is certainly a dark book, focusing on the worm in man's soul which can shatter their integrity and destroy their life. It refuses to preach or judge, and has the confidence to allow the reader to make up their own mind about the characters. Although many of the events of the book are hideously cruel, the motivations of the twin protagaists are clearly and beautifully delineated.

Finally, a note on the translation. I have read a huge number of translated authors, and this is the most impressive I have ever come across. Geoffrey Strachan surpasses even Edith Grossman or Margaret Jull Costa (and that is some compliment). 'Where I Left my Soul' seems more elegantly and subtly written than most novels originally in English. Not only this, but the characters retain a French flavour to their speech.

This is one of those books that, if you stumble across it, you think how lucky you have been and begin to wonder how many other novels are out there like this, waiting to be discovered. This kind of book in the reason I read. If you love books then please, please buy this one. It might just light up your year.

The Jaguar Smile: Nicaraguan Journey
The Jaguar Smile: Nicaraguan Journey
by Salman Rushdie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Simple, Beautiful Portrait of A Country In The Midst of The Hurricane, 17 Feb. 2007
Having never read a Rushdie novel I bought this slim volume on a whim as the topic sounded interesting and not the kind of book I would associate with the author. Part travelogue, part study of a country in the midst of a political tug-of-war, Rushdie's erudition shines through within a surprisingly easy writing style. His prose is simple yet beautiful and, in places, extremely funny.
The highly-charged subject matter (the politics of Nicaragua post-Revolution) is approached in a relaxed manner which nevertheless is highly critical of American interference. Rushdie comes across not as a mindless cheerleader for the Sandinistas but as a clear-sighted intellectual examining and falling in love with the new Nicaragua.
Rushdie's self-deprecating humour and clear passion for the subject matter make this book a delightful read which completely challenged my perception of the author as inaccessible and verbose.

We Are Not the Same
We Are Not the Same

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Start..., 14 Jun. 2006
This review is from: We Are Not the Same (Audio CD)
Good Shoes are an energetic four-piece from Morden. This EP is their debut (I think) and points to a bright future for the band. They are catchy and immediate but have far more depth than, say, Kaiser Chiefs. While your first impression could be just another guitar-driven indie band in the vein of the aforementioned Kaisers, The Automatic etc. they rise above the mediocre standards of most in this field. Sharp lyrics and serrated riffs give the band enough of an artrock edge to make them exciting. A promising beginning...and they have even better songs on the way.

The Loon
The Loon
Offered by Buks4less
Price: £7.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scuzzy, Pavement-esque Goodness, 14 Jun. 2006
This review is from: The Loon (Audio CD)
Bought this album out of curiosity-there's been a lot of hype surrounding the band and they don't disappoint. Obvious reference points are the Pixies in vocal style or a scuzzier version of Pavement.

This is one of the best albums I've bought for a while, the influences are fairly obvious but the music is excellent and the fairly lo-fi style never grates. "Insistor" is the stand out track, recently released as a single but the album is concise (11 tracks) and consistent.

Though they could be the next big success story from humble beginnings (10 000 copies of the album sold from their bedroom, internet hype, South by Southwest, small guys done good, new Arctic Monkeys blah blah blah) they seem level-headed decent blokes.

This is a cracking debut and well worth the money...

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