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David Williams
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Don Quixote (Penguin Classics)
Don Quixote (Penguin Classics)
by Miguel Cervantes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Butch and Sundance?, 18 Aug. 2010
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Over 400 years old, nearly a thousand pages long in my Penguin translation, how many people still read this classic? And yet, in the midst of the arcane references, there is a 'buddy' story here that feels so fresh and modern I could at times have been reading dialogue between Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I think this Penguin translation helps by updating the language style for the modern reader. Try it, if only for the zing between Quixote and the exquisite Sancho.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


Hide & Seek
Hide & Seek
by Clare Sambrook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and honest, 18 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Hide & Seek (Paperback)
I read 'Hide and Seek' after meeting Clare Sambrook at a Society of Authors talk. I was engaged by the book and its central character Harry Pickles, through whom the story is told. As a writer who has tried to capture the voice of a nine-year-old child to tell a coherent story, I know just how difficult it is. I don't think I always managed it in my short stories, and I don't think Clare does entirely either, but she gets very close - the misses are not so distracting as to break off the engagement. I would recommend the book, but only for readers who are not looking for happy ever after.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


Love and Summer
Love and Summer
by William Trevor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One great compared with another, 18 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Love and Summer (Paperback)
I'm going to make a partial and what will seem a strange comparison with Dylan Thomas's 'Under Milkwood'. Strange, as Trevor's work is a novel, Thomas's a play; the first is set in Ireland, the second in Wales; Trevor's story plays out under sunshine, Thomas's largely in the bible-black of night; strange, above all, as 'Under Milkwood' is essentially comic, 'Love and Summer' elegiac, tender and sad. But bear with me.

Both communities are tiny backwaters, where it sometimes appears that everyone knows everyone's habits and business, even seem privy to their inner lives, but it is not really so, for wrong assumptions are made, secret affairs carry on, thoughts and emotions, even at their most intense, can remain unrevealed or at least unarticulated.

There are seeming philanderers in both works - No Good Boyo and Florian Kilderry - who have hidden depths. There are apparent fools - Willy Nilly and Orpen Wren - who carry gossip and messages that both elucidate and confuse. 'Under Milkwood' has Polly Garter, whom everyone knows as a tart, who has heartfelt compassion and a tender capacity for love; in 'Love and Summer' the apparently guileless Ellie conducts an affair behind her husband's back, yet never loses her essential innocence or our sympathy.

At the centre of the Rathmoye community is Miss Connulty who at first seems to compare in her bossiness and aggrandisement with Milkwood's Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, but who we come to see by the end of the novel rather like Captain Cat, seeing more in his blindness than other sighted characters, and with real understanding and empathy for the 'fallen' Polly/Ellie.

I don't mean to carry the comparison any further, and of course the style of the two works is radically different, as is the effect they have on us, but I felt the association throughout my reading of this superb offering by one of our greatest living story-tellers, and I wanted to share it with others.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively
Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively
by Rebecca McClanahan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only helpful, but elegantly written, 12 July 2010
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Rebecca McLanahan has produced a book that is both useful to writers and a great pleasure to read for its own sake. She manages this partly by her judicious selection of examples, but perhaps even more so by her graceful descriptions of her own writing techniques, subtly toned and coloured with touches of autobiography.

She gets the details right too. Consider, for example, this modest little paragraph:

'Much of our writing energy is expended not in illuminating the deep mysteries of theme and symbol but in simply performing the physical tasks of the story, such as moving a character from the bed to the refrigerator. Or describing a small black button.'

She nails the writing task so well there. As writers, even when (or especially when) we know the things we do, we get a thrill to see them expressed so insightfully.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


Suicide City
Suicide City
by Jake Pattison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, but fun, 30 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Suicide City (Paperback)
A quirky, tongue-in-cheek novel with an edge of mystery. Some nice comic touches. Readers from the North East will especially enjoy the setting and the word play around some of the characters and place names (to protect the innocent or poke fun at them). An entertaining, light-hearted dig at some of the foibles of modern society, including modern art, pr, tv, kinky sex and new-age mumbo jumbo.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
by Roy Peter Clark
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb tool for writers, 5 Feb. 2010
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I came to this book via Roy's audio programmes on iTunes U (which are also excellent, and free to download). I had never heard of him before, but was so impressed by the extracts that I bought the book - which is even better. Very accessible, yet not at all superficial, each tool is illustrated by hit-the-mark examples. A practical guide that will improve any writer's work, at any level or genre - I know it has improved mine. Highly recommended.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed
The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed
by Judith Flanders
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive description of middle class Victorians, 21 Nov. 2008
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Absolutely outstanding and gorgeously readable from first page to last. If you want to learn about everyday life, especially for the middle classes, in the Victorian period, this is the definitive book to read. It is less detailed on the working class experience (except in relation to domestic servants, whose arduous work is described so well I ached for them), but that is because the focus of the book is the middle class Victorian house. Great scholarship, rewarding experience.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth


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