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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mightily impressive debut
Show Me The Sky is a mightily impressive debut.

The novel has five strands of narrative: a British policeman who has gone awol in Australia to try to trace a missing rock star; a motorcyclist dying in a dry creek in the Australian outback; an 1830s diary of a native Fijian who is returning to the Antipodes with missionaries having been converted and educated in...
Published on 2 Jun 2008 by MisterHobgoblin

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3.0 out of 5 stars A complex mystery
A powerfully written mystery of a disappearance of a rock singer. The man sent to find him also vanishes from the radar to trace him. Intertwined with this is the account of a Fijian man who has found Christianity, and is returning home to convert his people.

The story is quite complex and deals with corruption and vested interests as much as a man's desire to...
Published 18 months ago by Half Man, Half Book


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mightily impressive debut, 2 Jun 2008
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Show Me The Sky is a mightily impressive debut.

The novel has five strands of narrative: a British policeman who has gone awol in Australia to try to trace a missing rock star; a motorcyclist dying in a dry creek in the Australian outback; an 1830s diary of a native Fijian who is returning to the Antipodes with missionaries having been converted and educated in England; a teenage runaway in England; and an unhappy rockstar.

A ever in such novels, the strands come together at the end and a coherent story appears. The danger is that this looks contrived - although if it is viewed in reverse it is a single story that has been separated into five strands. In this case, though, the novel manages to steer the course quite well. Most of the voices seem quite different - perhaps the policeman and the motorcyclist aren't obviously different, but any confusion is dispelled by Part 2. The rock star narrative seems the weakest, although it offers quite an interesting perspective - the reluctant star who sees the music as a job and would rather pursue his interests of social history and personal development. However, in the interests of creating a distinct voice, Billy K seems rather staccato and needlessly gobby for a man who is supposed to be sensitive. The rock industry world he inhabits is similarly stereotypical with its deferential journalists, inarticulate artistes, sinister executives and inane groupies.

The strength, though, is in the narratives of the motorcyclist and the historical diary. Both offer a wonderful, three dimensional portrayal of the two situations. In the case of Cal, the motorcyclist, the hopelessness of the situation is obvious, but the tone is never maudlin. The position doesn't develop much, it just deteriorates - yet it never becomes boring. Cal's fate is made clear quite early on (in another narrative) but it is still fascinating to watch it play out. Similarly, we know that Nelson Babbage, the returning Fijian, is not going to have a happy time. A black man in white man's clothes - accepted by neither his fellow travellers nor, ultimately, by his countrymen - he is a disaster waiting to happen. The cameo roles of the missionaries is played out with brilliance, particularly Rev. Thomas who has little cultural understanding but a large stage on which to play out his ignorance. Nelson's naive faith and Rev. Thomas's cynicism make for horrific contrast.

James Dent, the policeman, is well written but one is left wondering exactly why he would abandon his job to hunt for Billy K. OK, he thinks he is the only man who can find him, but it isn't obvious why this should be so. And in his work he does seem to make some amazing leaps of deduction to keep the story going. Perhaps the balance between the five strands means that the James Dent story has been simplified a little too much - but it is still engaging and does offer the story some much needed action. It's also tempting to think that the James Dent narrative holds the other strands together, but in fact they are all interdependent - a Gordian knot of themes including abandonment, determination, struggle against inevitability, and personal identity. It shows a chain of actions and consequences that spans lives and generations.

Show Me The Sky is not quite perfect, but it comes close and deserves success for such an ambitious concept. It presents no great answers, offers no shining new insights, but does intrigue and entertain. Some of the writing is understated brilliance. The ability to switch from current vernacular to the proper writings of the 1830s seems effortless. And the colours and imagery lift from the page.

I absolutely recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Weave, 25 Jun 2008
By 
B. Sherwood - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Nicholas Hogg's first novel is part-thriller, part-detective, part-history and a good part poetry. What look at first like incredibly disparate stories in different countries are soon woven together in the most plausible, compelling way. The book cover (one of the niftiest I've seen, kudos to Canongate for the packaging brio) asks why a man would walk out on his life. Part of the charm of this book is the number of different, unexpected answers to that question that Hogg provides. The voices are convincing, the tension relentless, the book's narratives alternating with perfect timing.

Nicholas Hogg himself -- as I learned at a recent reading -- is energetic and provocative, his work seamless. This is a writer to watch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review, 20 Jun 2008
By 
Mmjones (Cardiff) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Nicholas Hogg has done what so many fail to do. That is to say he has delivered a debut Novel that hits the mark on many levels. The characters are thought provoking and interesting to get to know. The locations are obviously based on personnel experience and this just adds to the enjoyment of the novel. The way the many strands of the story weave in and out of each other is fantastic and the historical detail has obviously been well researched.

A fantastic debut and I will be looking out for more of his work in the years to come.

Well done Nicholas Hogg
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read..., 6 Jun 2008
By 
Mrs. V. R. Gebbie "Vanessa" (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Nicholas Hogg knows how to engage a reader on many levels. His characters are great, the settings are fascinating, vibrant. He makes full use of strong craft skills to draw you in and to create that elusive 'fictive dream' so sought after by writers. And for this reader, he created that dream fabulously well.

He is able to switch between very different voices with consummate ease. I found the sections of diary particularly extraordinary, in that respect. Reading these sections, I was 'away with the fairies' and totally forgot this was a work of fiction.

Thematically, its wonderful stuff; returning to one's roots in so many different senses. The whole thing resonates and echoes thematically, and that is wonderful, so many novels just don't do that.

Marrying the historical accounts, with a modern missing person mystery, with a commentary on the corruption then and now, religious corruption and bigotry mirroring the exploitation of 'god given gifts' in Billy K... fantastico....

I was reminded of Cloud Atlas... but actually, thought this was a better read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enormous and intimate, 17 Jun 2008
By 
B. Ghafoor (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Although I would not normally read a book that sounds like it might be a detective novel about a missing rockstar, I am glad I did; this book managed to bind together vast themes of loss and belonging and of identity and desperation, set in different continents and centuries, while retaining a beautiful intimacy.

In some ways, I thought it a pity that the whole book could not be the 'Show Me The Sky' journal narrative (but if it had been, what lunatic would have published and what fool would have picked it up, although anyone reading it would have adored it).

The conflict within the Fijian narrator (which only comprises a fifth of the book) is the anchor for the other stories. It is written with language that feels authentic (Google unsurprisingly shows that Nicholas Hogg was/is a poet in another life). The narrator is so unreliable (due to his naivite) that we almost start to patronise him as readers. This is a wonderful device, which compelled me to read on and made me feel very uncomfortable.

There are four other strands in the book and it seems an extraordinary feat to have woven them all together, with a twist at the end that left me amazed and moved. In some ways, it reminded me of the end of Kore Eda's 1995 film 'Maborosi', where, in the last few moments, another life is revealed, one that we have all lived and experienced, but which is seldom admitted to.

Watch Maborsi, read this book. Possibly in the reverse order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural perceptions within an engaging narrative, 20 Jan 2011
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Having just finished "Show me the Sky" I can recommend it as a great read. As a person who has lived in a fair few countries, I was thoroughly impressed by the way the author weaved his own cultural perceptions from various locations around the globe into an engaging and believing narrative - Congratulations. I look forward to reading more in 2011.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Copy passed on twice already, 31 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
I was lucky enough to get a free pre-release copy of this book through a friend who works for a magazine (sorry Amazon!) and was blown away by it.

Started reading on the train on my way home and found myself up until 4am to finish it. The thing that hooked me in at first was the language - so amazingly rich and evocative. I was a bit puzzled at first by how the different storylines were going to come together, but I kept reading and was rewarded with more than one 'aha' moment (and grin) as the plot progressed.

I think different people will probably get different things out of this book. I passed my copy on to my sister whose interpretation was totally different to mine, but she also loved it. And she's now passed it on to one of her friends. Doesn't look like I'll be getting it back!

Came to Amazon today to see if I could get hold of any other books by Nicholas Hogg. Disappointed to find that this is his first and I'll have to wait a while for the next one. Hopefully not too long.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel journey of discovery, 9 July 2008
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
If you have ever thought about escaping your own life and dream of journeys far and wide, this book is a must read for you. Amazingly a first time novel for Nicholas Hogg, the poetic and cascading prose has you turning between pages, countries and eras with intrigue and captivation. I look forward to seeing what the future holds in store for this young author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A complex mystery, 3 Jun 2013
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
A powerfully written mystery of a disappearance of a rock singer. The man sent to find him also vanishes from the radar to trace him. Intertwined with this is the account of a Fijian man who has found Christianity, and is returning home to convert his people.

The story is quite complex and deals with corruption and vested interests as much as a man's desire to no longer be in the spotlight. Couldn't always see the links, but the writing is exquisite.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Show Me The Sky, 10 July 2008
This review is from: Show Me The Sky (Paperback)
Nicholas Hogg relates a clever, fast-paced plot, with simple, elegant and poetic prose. The different and distinct voices of his characters gradually pull together, each with something to add to the overall theme. The author throws in some surprises, using a variety of styles that include a diary, a letter, and email conversations. Though I'm not usually a fan of the diary style, Babbage's historical diary entries are utterly convincing and enthralling. At times during these passages I had to remind myself I was reading fiction. Many images from the book stuck in my mind long after I turned the last page, a mark of really good writing.

I was hooked from page one of this debut novel, and I'm looking forward to the next...
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Show Me The Sky
Show Me The Sky by Nicholas Hogg (Paperback - 7 May 2009)
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