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DrewGum "DrewGum" (UK)

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Light Reading (Macmillan New Writing)
Light Reading (Macmillan New Writing)
by Aliya Whiteley
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, 18 Feb 2008
It's strange that this book is called Light Reading. After all, Light Reading is largely about death.

Pru Green and her friend Lena are RAF wives, they live on an RAF base and take it in turns to visit other wives homes to eat cake and drink coffee while their husbands are away fighting (or whatever - having sex with other men, dressing up in women's clothes) in Iraq.

This life is one of facade. Everyone knows everyone else's dirty little secrets but they remain tight-lipped to maintain equilibrium. In the first chapter this equilibrium is shattered. One of the wives commits suicide, not able to deal with the fact her husband is sleeping with another man.

This man happens to be Lena's husband and Lena and Pru no longer able to cope with the life on the base quickly decamp to Allcombe on a tangent to unravel the mysterious circumstances or not of the death of a former child star.

The month is December and these days Allcombe is not even its best in the summer. Allcombe is a dilapidated seaside resort of fading hotels and insalubrious rest homes, its bars inhabited by bored teenagers on the look out for a quick shag or something more sinister.

Lena and Pro have a hate love love hate relationship, each one trying to work out their own inner turmoils by solving a mystery that may or may not be there.

And this is where Light Reading is so successful. Onto the dynamics of a page turning potboiler is bolted a pairing of real substance and weight. I really wanted to know where these characters had come from and where they were going. The pages kept turning because I wanted to know the answer to the mystery but what I really cared about was what happened to these two. And I wasn't disappointed. There are no easy answers because in life there never is. Hugely enjoyable.


In Search of the Missing Eyelash
In Search of the Missing Eyelash
by Karen Mcleod
Edition: Paperback

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh, 6 July 2007
Another book that made me laugh.

Lizzie's girlfriend has dumped her for a man with a fat neck, her brother, who likes dressing up as a woman has disappeared, and now her mother has gone too.

Lizzie decides to take up some stalking - she wants to find out if Sally, the ex, really doesn't love her anymore. This involves breaking into her house, following her on holiday in disguise - the French resistance look, black bobbed wig, black mac.

It's great about being in love, waiting for texts, analysing how many 'x's they have on them.
It has great secondary characters. Petula downstairs, her best friend and sex addict 'You know anal sex is very in at the moment', who talks about her boyfriends but we never get to see them - the Welsh poet, the Welsh barman, the bouncer.

And it also has a great sense of place. Lizzie works in a cafe (all the pensioners who come in go on a trip to see the whale that is swimming up the Thames), she goes to the launderette, local pubs, lives in a flat, drinks wine and takes a bottle of vodka in her bag to drink before going out in Brighton.

The humour is dry, doesn't feel forced, and it isn't contrived.

Definitely recommended and Ali Smith likes it too. In fact, good reviews all round.


Absent Kisses
Absent Kisses
by Frances Gapper
Edition: Paperback

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Amazing, Brilliant, 14 Jan 2003
This review is from: Absent Kisses (Paperback)
Wow! From the first line of the first story of this collection of short stories I fell in love. Make no mistake, this book is fantastic.
The stories made me laugh out loud, I never laugh out loud, they constantly surprised me, they moved me, they made me want to make Frances Gapper Queen of England.
These stories display a love of language withour alienating, they exude erudition without being above themselves but most of all they are fun, nice, warming, great.
Gapper should be at the forefront of everybody's wish list. It was the best book I have read in a long time and I read a lot. I'm going to read it again.


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