Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for jimidimi > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by jimidimi
Top Reviewer Ranking: 90,487
Helpful Votes: 34

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
jimidimi

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
The Barefoot Man
The Barefoot Man
by Davis Grubb
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to Steinbeck, 10 Mar. 2013
This grabbed my attention in a second hand book store. The fact that reviews in the back-cover blurb namecheck Steinbeck and Dickens were encouraging. I was surprised, then, that there's little online information of Davis Grubb, more famous for writing 'The Night of the Hunter,' the original film of which scared me to bits as a young boy.

There is no doubt that this is a good book. Early on I was in rapture when reading it. It ploughs the same furrows as the itinerant families trying to escape the Depression in 'The Grapes of Wrath,' but focuses on the lot of the at-best intimidated, at-worst murdered, miners striking for better conditions. It quickly becomes a tale of revenge and this took me a step away from an opinion of it as literary fiction and a step towards pulp. The scenes between Jack and Jessie are, according to the blurb, the tour de force of the whole book but I found them overlong. The pages in which the taboo of cunnilingus is detailed and discussed made me yawn in 2013. I'm sure Erica Jong did it better. I also found the matriarchal character of Old Mother Dunne in the story to be over-egged, although it was nice to see such a figure being given power over the community of men she considers to be so foolish.

I most enjoyed the (admittedly rather Dickensian) detail of the lives of the miner families and particularly the intricacies of the long hours under the coal face. The dark and desperate hearts of the strike-breakers (inevitably in the pay of the mine owners) were also explored with great aplomb. A good book that with the omission of twenty pages would be great.


Up The Junction: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
Up The Junction: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
by Nell Dunn
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slumming it, 10 Mar. 2013
Middle-class Dunn slummed it in the early 60s and this, her portrayal of life in Battersea, resulted. A series of vignettes lifting the lid on poverty and the thin line between life and death in low class London, there is a real sense of 'carpe diem' through out. Alcohol is central to the concept of a good time. Sexual urges are acted upon and there is an acceptance that the male of the species is predatory. Abortions are common-place and are chosen (backstreet style) without contemplation or regret. Children are fed on cat food.

A real insight into lives that are lived with little chance of escape or improvement, told through the the dialogue of the local characters. Some times moving, often funny, almost always shocking, I found this slender book difficult to follow at times. The second half of the book is much stronger than the first.

Inevitably its publication caused an uproar in the 60s. Sadly much of the furore revolved around the loose sexual mores recorded in its pages and this rather overshadowed the more pressing truths of poverty and the changes in social housing forced upon such communities (so well documented forty years later in the excellent The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class).


Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
by Roddy Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ten year old's staccato musings, 20 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Paperback)
Recently I was infuriated by 'Hideous Kinky,' a novel purporting to be narrated by a five year old girl. Linguistically all wrong, the story fell down due to these discrepancies. Happily, 'Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha,' told from the POV of a ten year old boy, is a masterclass of perception and imaginative writing. This is a boy's voice speaking about the things within his frame of reference, staccato musings that centre on family and its comforts and agonies, the hierarchy of friends and school, and the world that is the village he calls home, a world that shrinks as the book goes on, with play fields disappearing and poor houses springing up. This concoction is laced with an unceasing list of salient facts, all repeated in the boy's voice with the curious wonder of youth. Structurally, the loose chronology is often eschewed by the meandering connections of memory in Paddy's head, although the increasing preoccupation with the health of his parents' marriage cuts through the tales of boyish banter and scrapes, revealing beyond the laughter and joys of childhood a sadness at the core.

Very often fathers are sidelined in a family, although regularly they sideline themselves. Working all hours God sends to provide for their family, they can be a silent presence at the end of the working day, exhausted and unfulfilled by their lot. This is captured so well in the book; the mother is the centre of family life, she is responsible for all the positive routine for her two boys. The father, meanwhile, is inconstant. His moods are changeable, his routines tending to cultivate the opposite of peace of mind in his children. His brooding silence is challenged, mostly by his wife but also by his eldest son, Paddy, who feels he has the power to stop his parents' fights- but also, by this implication, that he is responsible for them. The nightly vigil the ten year old boy is reduced to, his increasing insecurity and slump into tearful exhaustion, are quietly tragic. The slow disintegration of a family, Ha Ha Ha, Paddy Clarke, spells the death knell of a child's innocence. As a reader your heart breaks between the lines of humour.


The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: And Other Stories
The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy: And Other Stories
by Tim Burton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Darker than Dahl, 9 Feb. 2013
always found Tim Burton a bit hit and miss as a director- the brilliance of 'Edward Scissorhands' vs. the dreadful disappointment that was, to me, his Alice in Wonderland, for example. I loved this very short collection of dark poems about childhood outcasts and misfits, and I found Burton's artwork witty and strange. I don't doubt it was only published because it's Burton's work but no matter- this is darker than Dahl and really just an extension of one of Burton's central themes in his film work- the isolation that entrenches some childhoods. The cover story about Oyster Boy might just be my least favourite in the collection.


Girl At The Lion d'Or
Girl At The Lion d'Or
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TV drama.., 9 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Girl At The Lion d'Or (Paperback)
This is a well-written page-turner and, as you would expect from Faulks, it shines brightest when detailing elements of the war. The air of tragedy-in-waiting permeates the whole book. While the townspeople, indeed the whole of France, is dreading the inevitable war that will come a few years down the line, the reader quakes with each boom and creak inside the mansion. It is not a difficult ending to imagine but that is I think precisely the point. It is as if the tide of history is dragging everyone towards a place they do not want to be.

The two central characters are delineated well but it was the bit-players that held my interest more. The story of the cafe's proprietor I would really like to read. All in all a novel you can get through without taxing the brain cells. It reminded me of a one-off drama you might come across while flicking TV channels one evening. Nothing wrong with that but I am not sure how long it will stick in my mind.


Hideous Kinky
Hideous Kinky
by Esther Freud
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable for 5, 9 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Hideous Kinky (Paperback)
This book is supposedly being narrated by a 5 year old girl. I didn't find that believable at all, even taking into account the author's own background of intellectual privilege- and her gene pool. I also found the whole thing a little bit dull, which is a shame- there was no sense of drama, it read more like a list. As such, plot was hard to find and I couldn't really get wrapped up in it. Maybe other people would enjoy the exotic feel to it- exotic poverty??!- but as I've been to Morocco many times it didn't capture my attention.

There are some redeeming features. The relationship between the narrator and her elder sister (who is 7) is expressed well. There are a few background characters who are very interesting. But the problem is that because the whole thing is being told by a very young girl, there are huge holes in the story. She is not privy to much information and as a consequence neither is the reader.


The Dark
The Dark
by John McGahern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness begets darkness, 9 Feb. 2013
This review is from: The Dark (Paperback)
Bristling with the threat of violence from the outset, the opening chapter is one of the most disturbing and claustrophobic I have read. The father in the book is a bitter man, his moods uneven and extreme, and as a consequence his children live in fear of him and punish him the only way they can- by shutting him out of their lives as much as possible. His feeling of isolation is something that compounds the misery within the farmhouse walls; it begets isolation in each of his kids, although the book concerns itself chiefly with the son's perspective. A prominent theme is the difficult relationship between father and son, and there is certainly a feeling that Mahoney (the father) is clinging to the strength of youth, and the power over his son, when it is slipping away. His son is strengthening as he himself is becoming older and tired. It is a power struggle that blights many father and son relationships at the time when sons become young men.

Beyond that, there is another struggle that McGahern is eager to recount: sanctity and its promise of eternal life battles the quick, hot promise of release from sexual need. One of the reasons this book was banned in Ireland is the author's suggestion that the line between sanctity and sex is blurred. Priests are meant to abandon life for life-in-death but in The Dark it is inferred that they are involved in sexual abuse. There is also the implication that Mahoney himself is abusing his son.

The journey within the book does include some resolution, an element of peace and forgiveness between the son and father. But the mid-twentieth century Ireland detailed in the book is a dark place rife with poverty and abuse, where the taint of childhood can never be absolved. A nervous child becomes an adult who lacks confidence in himself and his abilities. Darkness begets darkness.


Brass
Brass
by Helen Walsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Where there's muck..., 9 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Brass (Paperback)
This feels like a book written to shock and, focusing on young female hypersexuality as it does, it certainly has the potential to do that. The relentless tug of emotion-less lust, the drug-taking, the couple of references to Hubert Selby.. it is clear Walsh is a fan of the late American novelist's iconoclastic work. This is a novel of pestilence and whores (the brass of the title), a grinding place of poverty where there is not enough time for wounds to be licked.

Walsh's writing isn't without its merits, but I found the two voices (Millie's story dominating, best friend Jamie's voice pretty insubstantial in support) didn't always work. Millie in particular is such a hateful character that it is often difficult to care for her. The revelations in the last part of the book were not surprising in the slightest and I felt the ending lacked bite. But this is none the less bold writing and that has to be championed. I lost count of how many times the C word was used- no problem there, for me- but the scene of a predatory Millie and young teenage girl, drunk and covered in bruises from her abusive dad's hands, made me sick to my stomach. The writer acknowledges that hurt is passed down generation to generation then shared around in life. This hurt is secrets or lies or physical pain inflicted with a smile or the losses that strip away at us, human hurt that leads to animal behaviour.

Powerful in its depiction of the despair of red-lit Toxteth streets in Liverpool, the book does hint at the redemptive nature of love. There's something in that ending that is a hopeful beginning.


The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory
by Iain Banks
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Persevere with this disturbed voice, 21 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Wasp Factory (Paperback)
I felt sick reading the first 30 pages or so of this, convinced I would loathe the rest of the book. It's the measure of Banks's talent that in the end you feel humanity for the narrator and can even laugh at some of the dark humour. But I appreciate this is the sort of book that divides opinion. If art concerns itself with everything under the sun, the whole world from fish to flesh and all that lies in between, there HAS to be merit in portrayals of even the most disturbed minds. There are darker things that happen than Banks can imagine. Truth is stranger than fiction. Persevere with the (pitch-black) eccentricities of this psychotic teenager and you may find yourself drawn in to his world... It won't damage you forever! In fact this book has a lot to teach about the complicated nature of life and death. Guilt is too easily apportioned, criticism too easily levelled. Learn the whole story and then understand.

The selection of reviews at the beginning of the book were superlative- three heaping praise, two casting judgement in the most censorious fashion. Sublimely refreshing in this world of soundbites.


Blood Meridian
Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The work of a genius so allow yourself time (and a dictionary), 21 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Blood Meridian (Paperback)
McCarthy hates punctuation so this book sometimes feels like one long consideration and gives a certain unstoppable quality to the writing and this feels appropriate for this West of ceaseless bloodlust and relentless violence but it takes a little while to get used to and some times the complexities of McCarthy's ideas are spun out so far you have to go back right back to the start of onerous sentences and it is as if you are winding up a skein of string that has come unleashed.

It is frankly one of the best books I have been fortunate to come across and although I dont doubt I have missed much of what the author was trying to impart I also dont doubt I will be returning to this book in the future and next time I will learn and understand a little bit more. The ending is still some thing of a mystery to me, full of ambiguity and anonymity and that is part of its joy.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3