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Blues for a Black Cat & Other Stories (French Modernist Library)
Blues for a Black Cat & Other Stories (French Modernist Library)
by Louis Malle
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whimsy and absurd but fascinating, 6 Jun 2009
I'd never heard of Vian before but he appears to have had had a fascinating life according to the foreward... he wrote for Sartre's magazine les temps modernes, having seen Duke Ellington in concert at the age of 17 he was inspired to learn the trumpet and ended up a jazz trumpeter in a famous jazz orchestra and translated The Big Sleep for the French market.

I've never read anything quite like this before... a serious of short stories which on the surface seem normal (a plumber visiting to fix a bathroom, a soldier's eye view of the Normandy Landings, a talking cat...!) which each have a sprinkling of the absurd and whimsy throughout.

The following extract from Louis Malle's foreward is a brilliant summary of the book...."Blues for a Black Cat and Other Stories" provides a perfect introduction to Vian... These stories contain the pivotal characters and absurdist qualities germinal to his later novels and plays. Some stories... pave the way for Vian's blacker humour...Though boldy defiant, Vian always disguises social protest in vertiginous flights of fancy, quirky sexual encounters, and doomed romantic affairs. But his unique parody tends to heighten the masked terrors of war, poverty, ill health, and unemployment that hound the bizarre protaganists of these fablelike narratives."


The Collected Stories of Richard Yates
The Collected Stories of Richard Yates
by Richard Yates
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Collection of Short Stories, 22 May 2009
I was in two minds as to whether or not to read this book (having read "Revolutionary Road" for a book group and finding it too dark for my liking).

This collection, whilst not exactly a selection of cheery and uplifting stories (!) are beautifully crafted vignettes of different aspects of post-war American life.

Like RR it deals with the "smothered desire of suburban housewives, the white collar despair of office workers ..." [from the cover notes of this edition] but unlike RR, each story has a nugget of hope (not necessarily a happy ending!) but that 'hope for the future' is something I couldn't discern in RR and was what made it too dark for me.

I sometimes feel somewhat shortchanged by short stories, but the ones in this book are so intricate and so full of detail that I felt fully sated after each one!


Samarkand
Samarkand
by Amin Maalouf
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first half is fab - 5 stars, the second half disappointing..., 19 Mar 2009
This review is from: Samarkand (Paperback)
I was hooked by the first couple of paragaphs and loved the first story about Omar, [I could have done with a family tree, or a diagram of how everyone was linked to one another (!) and some maps would have been helpful though]it really is beautifully written.

I was so disappointed with the second story though and would have preferred the book to continue in the same vein as the first.


Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design
Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design
by Malu Halasa
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating!, 19 Mar 2009
anyone who's ever been to Syria was probably (like me) somewhat flabbergasted by the unbelievably racy undies on full display in umpteen market stalls in the souk in the context of a predominantly Muslim country. The photos in this book are beautiful, the stories of the makers, the sellers and the customers are fascinating and I would highly recommend it. It's not a 'dodgy' book and is quite safe to give to your Mum!


Brand New Non-Stick Oven Baking Tray 31cms(12")
Brand New Non-Stick Oven Baking Tray 31cms(12")
Offered by SelectiveGoods
Price: 3.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars STICKY GLUE!!!, 19 Mar 2009
I haven't used the tray yet because the glue sticking the paper to the tray is taking weeks to remove!!! Have washed it in boiling water several times now and is only slowly coming off... not ideal...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2010 4:28 PM GMT


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Persephone Classics)
by Winifred Watson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 9 Nov 2008
This is a perfect book for escaping from the humdrum life of the credit crunch era - it's heartwarming and sweet, funny and well written.

I bought this (and Someone at a Distance, Dorothy Whipple) in an airport bookshop, having never heard of either author, and am delighted to have done so.

It was published in 1938, and tells of glamour, decadence (well, 1930s decadence!) through the eyes of a downtrodden (and not very good!) nursery maid who happens upon the sparkling life of (gasp!) nightclub Miss La Fosse by happy accident.

It's a bit Breakfast at Tiffany's meets Enid Blyton - delightful!


The Woman In The Fifth
The Woman In The Fifth
by Douglas Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars La Femme du Cinquieme, 1 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Woman In The Fifth (Paperback)
I bought this in France and read the French version and it didn't occur to me until I was quite a long way through the book that it was the same Douglas Kennedy who wrote State of the Union and The Big Picture.

Unlike a lot of the other reviewers, I preferred this book to SotU and TBP - I didn't actually think that much of his other books whereas I thought that the plot in Woman of the 5th was quite an innovative concept.


Over
Over
by Margaret Forster
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a vivid but subtle story of a grieving family, 13 Sep 2008
This review is from: Over (Paperback)
the way in which Margaret Forster tackles the effect on a family of the death of a daughter was hauntingly real. Not the cheeriest of reads, but a fascinating study of how grief affects different people in different ways. Recently bereaved myself, I found it quite cathartic.


Independent People (Vintage International)
Independent People (Vintage International)
by Halldor Laxness
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden gem, 13 Sep 2008
I bought this whilst in Reykjavik on business and thoroughly enjoyed it. It really is an epic, and is wonderfully descriptive. The first section which outlines the myths surrounding the land on which Bjartur establishes his "independent" life took a little getting in to, but this is only scene setting, so do persevere as the book is a wonderful read, the like of which I haven't come across in a while.

The author was awarded the Nobel Prize and deservedly so. I'm surprised not to have ever come across his books before in the UK.


Turkish Coast: Kas to Dalyan (Sunflower Guides Turkish Coast: Kas to Dalyan)
Turkish Coast: Kas to Dalyan (Sunflower Guides Turkish Coast: Kas to Dalyan)
by Michael Bussmann
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a walker's book, 24 Aug 2008
This isn't an alternative to a lonely planet style guide book, it's aimed at the hiking / walking community instead which I now understand is what the Sunflower Guides do. (I didn't realise this when ordering it). There are only 8 pages on Kas itself (accommodation, restaurants, bars etc) which I found disappointing as I assumed it would have more detailed info than for example, a guide book on the whole of Turkey. I did find the tone of the book a little patronising at times too.

There is good page and a half on Kastellorizo with a couple of walks and a few recommendations which was a welcome surprise.

Highlight of the book (in the helpful section on haggling when buying Turkish carpets)

"If you know next to nothing about carpets, by all means buy a cheap one as a souvenir (when you consign it to the loft the moths will be happy) - or go to a specialist back home.... If you must buy a carpet in Turkey...check the thickness of the knots... Be sure to ask if the carpet can fly and, if not, immediately ask for a 50% discount..."

The back cover has a useful fold out road map of the region.

If you're planning on doing lots of walking in the region it's probably perfect for you, but if you're looking for a guide book with a bit more info then this probably isn't for you.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2008 12:56 PM BST


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