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The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry
The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry
by Ilya Kaminsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars World tour of poetry, 13 May 2013
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This anthology introduced me to fascinating new voices from around the world and reminded me of old favourites. So many different ways of looking at the world.


At the Loch of the Green Corrie
At the Loch of the Green Corrie
by Andrew Greig
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer poetry., 6 May 2011
I read this book because of MacCaig: others might read it because they love fishing, or the West Highlands, or the fiction of Andrew Grieg. The book delighted me, and I am sure it would delight all those others too.

MacCaig's love of Assynt was something he shared with his admiring acolyte Greig, and a casual conversation about the best fishing loch led Greig to make a pilgrimage after the death of MacCaig to the Loch of the Green Corrie with two friends. It was a pilgrimage into his own inner life, too, though, and this is the real subject of the book. However, along the way we explore Scotland's troubled history; Greig's personal community of friends and lovers; MacCaig's brotherhood of poets; geology and creationism; the dichotomy of whisky; and finally, a glorious pen portrait of Norman's soul mate AK McLeod.

There are passages of lyrical beauty here, and Greig has achieved something quite remarkable in his blending of the imagery of MacCaig with his own lucid style. Every gleam of light, flicker of water and wisp of wind in Assynt resonates with MacCaig's poetry and Greig pays homage to the poet and the land.

However, as Greig's expedition is also one of self-reflection, this book challenged me to make the same journey and something shifted inside me as I read it. I will carry this book in my heart and mind for a long time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2012 12:10 PM GMT


The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance
Price: £4.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tactile Prose, 6 May 2011
How is it possible to write about the sense of touch so exquisitely? Edmund de Waal's brilliant, original biography of his family, the maelstrom they lived through and their 264 perfect small netsukes was a revelation.

His attempt to engage with his kin, the previous owners of these tiny miracles of Japanese carving and observation, was full of feeling, but entirely lacking in sentimentality. However, his potter's sense of touch was the feeling that has stayed with me since reluctantly finishing the book. Not just the soft, light netsuke, but the gritty dust of rapid development in Paris and Vienna, and the cold, smooth marble that clad every surface in the family's vast mansion in Vienna.

His evocation of Proust's Paris, the cold, glittering Vienna, Nazi Europe, solid suburban England and the home of the netsuke, Japan, is astonishingly vivid and moving. The Parisian section has opened a window to that world that has driven me back to Proust's In Search of Lost Time- I only ever read the first two parts and am now reading the third.

His personal journey of exploration conveyed the obsessive pleasure of research. But his sensitive and honest appraisal of his response to his family's past shared with the reader the glory and the horror, the art and the excess, and the strength of family when all else has gone.

I was riveted by this book. The austere quality of the writing, and the intense emotion- held in check but palpable-had me mesmerised.


The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend
The Case Of The Missing Boyfriend

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful mistake!, 3 May 2011
Confession first. I bought this for my Kindle by mistake. Blame Amazon's 1-Click. I would never normally dip my toe in the tepid waters of chick-lit (too old, too much of an intellectual snob) but I really enjoyed this for its engaging characters and cracking pace. The style is easy, accessible without being patronising to the reader, and illuminates the angst of single, urban life with humour and sensitivity.

CC is Bridget Jones a few years on, with even less time left on her biological clock, and as a "faghag" rarely meets suitable candidates for the missing boyfriend position, or so she thinks. The difficult mother/daughter relationship was handled with considerable deftness of touch. Nick Alexander must have a sister! His characters are all aware of the absurdity of their angst, and his humour stops their superficiality becoming cloying.

This novel shines a warm, comforting light on a microscopic aspect of the human condition. Thank you to 1-Click!


Guernica
Guernica
by Dave Boling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worthy, but dull., 3 May 2011
This review is from: Guernica (Paperback)
This is very worthy depiction of the awfulness of the destruction of Guernica by Franco via the German bombers. However, the characters are over-sentimentalised, one-dimensional (if that) and produced not a twinge of empathy in me at the climactic moment of the bombing. Quite a feat, as my eyes frequently leak when reading!

There are a few vague references to the moral decay produced in a small number of the villagers by the poverty, hardship and hunger inflicted on the Basque nation by the Franco regime, but the main characters were noble, brave, strong (if men), beautiful and good dancers (if women) and even the local prostitute does it out of kindness, not for money. Their enduring spirit is the main motif in the novel, but this does no justice to the real Basques, who were tragic and flawed human beings, not stereotypes.

Picasso pops up every so often to allow for his cataclysmic painting Guernica to get a mention, but Boling is no art critic and is unable to convey its power or contemporary impact with his factual description. Apparently, people stood for a long time looking at it, so it must be good, right?

This book served the function of reminding me of a forgotten horror of ethnic cleansing, a practice if you like for the holocaust, and there was much of interest about the Basque way of life. The behaviour of most of the World in standing by while this atrocity happened has particular resonance today as the UN ignores the genocide in Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Rwanda ...... The journalist- turned-novelist Boling finds characterisation difficult, though, and should stick to journalism.


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