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B. Gudmundsson (Iceland)
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The Things They Carried (Flamingo)
The Things They Carried (Flamingo)
by Tim O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny as well as sad, 19 April 2007
Somewhere between a short story collection and a novel, somewhere between fiction and memories is Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a wonderful book about a terrible war.

O'Brien takes us into the life and minds of soldiers in a fashion rarely witnessed in fiction. Most characters in the book come alive and some of them the reader gets to really feel bad for when things go wrong. It's also a book with a wonderfully funny, in a strange way, story like the Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong, a great story on it's own. It is also placed in the right order of stories in the book to have maximum effect, both on it's own and in a way to make the other stories more effective. We also have notes that can shock the reader. "Speaking of Courage was written in 1975 at the suggestion of Norman Bowker, who three years later hanged himself in the locker room of a YMCA in his hometown in central Iowa." (Page 155)


Everyman
Everyman
by Philip Roth
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark but captivating, 19 April 2007
This review is from: Everyman (Hardcover)
It might seem a funny thing that two of the best novels of the last couple of years both center on grown men waiting for or facing death. On is of course Philip Roth's Everyman, the other Paul Auster's The Brooklyn Follies. While I think Auster had the better of Roth (it might be down to the different tone of the authors) both books are very good. Everyman is a dark, painful book well deserving of it's black cover. (The Brooklyn Follies is more optimistic while also dwelling on the characters' difficulties.) While it is seldom interesting to hear people talking about their illnesses there is something special about Roth's story of Everyman going from one operation to the next.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2010 11:36 AM BST


The March: A Novel
The March: A Novel
by E. L. Doctorow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good but uneven read, 19 April 2007
This review is from: The March: A Novel (Paperback)
The March is a fine book, large in scope and perhaps at times to large. The characters are many and so are the storylines. It is a story that maintains interest all the way through but is somewhat uneven. All but the best of epics have ups and downs. With The March the greatest ups frequently involve Will and Arly, two down on their luck confederate soldiers trying to survive in an ugly and brutal war. Their episodes tend to be funny and dramatic. Sometimes but not always both at once. I have not read a book by E.L. Doctorow before, The March left me interested in reading more of his books but hasn't gotten me rushing out to by them. The book might merit somewhat more than three stars but as I only give four stars to very good books it doesn't make that grade.


The Brooklyn Follies
The Brooklyn Follies
by Paul Auster
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humour and despair, 19 April 2007
This review is from: The Brooklyn Follies (Hardcover)
Of all the books I read last year this is the one I keep coming back to. Auster weaves a great story about flawed people, some despairing and some finding hope. I hear Auster can be quite a difficult read but that is not the case with this book. It is a great story that I found hard to put down. I picked this book up while traveling in Denmark. I started reading it on the train to Kastrup airport, continued reading it while waiting for check-in and kept on reading while walking to the plane and did not put it down until I went to an event in the evening. I then picked it up and finished when I came back home. This is the first time I have done that in close to a decade. It is a moving story, funny, exciting and dramatic. It is the best novel I have read in years. It surpasses Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way wich up until reading this book was my favorite of the last few years, because of it's heart and Barry's great writing style and talent to make us feel for his characters.

The theme in The Brooklyn Follies is somewhat similar to Philip Roth's Everyman. While Everyman is dark The Brooklyn Follies has a lighter tone, more humour as well as a wealth of interesting characters.


A Long Long Way
A Long Long Way
by Sebastian Barry
Edition: Paperback

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evokes pain and sorrow, 23 Feb. 2006
This review is from: A Long Long Way (Paperback)
I don't like using big words when describing books. But I think I will have to do it this time around. A Long Long Way is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. Let me explain.
I've long been interested in fiction that takes place in a war or is in someway related to a war situation. At first because of the action, but as I grew up I liked to read about how people react in a war situation. Following Willie Dunne's ordeals I felt so many pains, so many sorrows. Sebastian Barry shows great depth in describing both the conflicts of war but more importantly the agonies of war, the fear and hopes of the soldiers. I'm not a big fan of poetry. But in this case I think the fact that Sebastian Barry is a poet as well as a novelist and dramatist may explain why his style is so good, so capable of conveying emotion (mind you I haven't read any of his poetry).
A Long Long Way is perhaps the best novel I've read in a long time. If I try to categorize it as war fiction it tops all the books I´ve read recently (Doctorow's The March - good -, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried - very good -) and war related fiction such as Gunther Grass's Crabwalk - very good - and Ismail Kadare's General of the Dead Army - somewhat disappointing.


Sultans Of Spin: The Media And The New Labour Government
Sultans Of Spin: The Media And The New Labour Government
by Nicholas Jones
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Negativity and egoism, 14 Sept. 2000
I was very excited to read Mr. Jones book on the Labour spin machine. Having taken an interest in both media and spin I hoped this would be a good book. Mr. Jones' reporting is however in many ways to negative to really be reliable and he makes the mistake of making himself a centerpiece of much of his story. Mr. Jones obviously had his reasons for choosing this kind of storytelling but I feel that if he had placed himself more in the background and tried to write a more objective book the readers would have been better served. There are some interesting aspects to the book but overall it was rather disappointing.


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