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Gamma (SF Bay Area)

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Not Untrue and Not Unkind
Not Untrue and Not Unkind
by Ed O'Loughlin
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Writing with Unique Atmosphere, 9 Nov. 2009
I just finished reading this book and I must say that I savored every page. I first learned of it through the Booker prize longlist. The author has captured human nature in an extraordinary way - it is piercing, and unvarnished and honest. The writing is powerful, strong and unique. A number of quotes in the book just stick with me. Here's one of those quotes - where the main character Owen finds himself in a awkward conversation with a co-worker of his and makes this observation: "There would be nothing I could do about it, I knew that in advance. But only in chess do people resign when they know things are hopeless. In life we use up all our pieces first."

There is an incredible atmosphere in the book - and a gritty realism that just pulls you in. I heartily recommend this book, and I look forward to Ed O'Loughlin's next one.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Arturo Perez-Reverte's Painter of Battles.The Painter Of Battles It is about a world-weary war correspondent haunted by his experiences.

Thursday Night Widows
Thursday Night Widows
by Claudia Pineiro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Tale of Drama in Argentina, 2 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Thursday Night Widows (Paperback)
This book was everything I hoped it would be, based on the intriguing description. Now that I've read it, I'm eagerly awaiting future English translations of works by Claudia Pineiro. I'd also like to see the movie based on this book, currently in production by director Marcelo Piñeyro. I'm so thankful for Bitter Lemon Press, the publisher who keeps finding these gems of novels - such as this one, and the Havana Quartet by Leonardo Padura.

I found it incredibly unusual to set a crime novel in a lush, gated community outside Buenos Aires. I thought I would be struck by how different life in Argentina is - but for these moderately wealthy characters, it seems that their cares, worries, anxieties - even flaws and shallowness - are much more similar to USA or UK than I would have expected. The story takes place in 2001, with flashbacks throughout the 1990s - during times of economic upheaval and job losses. The current economic crisis (2009 version) made the story hit home a bit more, especially as everyone I know has the same worries (as the main characters in this book) about their job, career, finances.

However, this is a rich, fun tale - a dark comedy really - about a set of richly drawn characters who do crazy things. Thoroughly enjoyable - I read it in just 2 days.

Cold Earth
Cold Earth
by Sarah Moss
Edition: Paperback

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Haunting, 19 July 2009
This review is from: Cold Earth (Paperback)
There's a unique quality to Sarah Moss's debut novel. The setting alone is distinctive: The bleak landscape in Western Greenland, as winter is setting in, while a worldwide epidemic is breaking out. The characters felt real and authentic, and I had the sense of glimpsing into their private thoughts in a way that demonstrated the author's gifts. The tale is gripping, and I read through it quickly, increasingly determined to find out what happened at the end. Importantly, the novel made me think about life itself, of what we take for granted everyday as well as the trials of love and loss. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
by Alexandre Dumas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing tale with a perfect translation, 4 May 2009
I strongly recommend readers to buy this version - the unabridged version with the excellent translation by Robin Buss. It was thanks to Amazon readers that I first found out about this version -> I had just read the Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (which I also highly recommend) and I was curious to read novels by Dumas. I think I had read the abridged version of Monte Cristo back in high school (over 20 years ago) - but I learned from Robin Buss that the version most of us have read was an antiquated Victorian English translation which doesn't reflect the style of Dumas and omits key parts of the novel due to Victorian-era censorship. Here's what Robin Buss has to say on page xxv of his intro: "Anyone who has ever read The Count of Monte Cristo only in the "classic version" has never read Dumas' novel. For a start, the translation is occasionally inaccurate and is written in a nineteenth century English that now sounds far more antiquated than the French of the original does to a modern French reader." I'd like to share that I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing tale with this excellent translation. I found it to be a gripping story and I had no problem sticking with this novel - all the way to page 1,243 - which I finished reading moments ago. Also - I found the detailed notes provided by Robin Buss to be incredibly valuable. In the notes, all the "nuances" and even "inside jokes" within the novel are explained. Some things that contemporary readers would simply understand (due to recent events, and the French revolution, etc) that are unlikely for most modern day reads to know.
I whole-heartedly recommend this -and I will look for more classics that have been translated by Robin Buss, because I feel like I discovered a treasure.

The Girl On The Landing
The Girl On The Landing
by Paul Torday
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immersive tale with unexpected twist, 4 May 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed Paul Torday's first novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and therefore looked forward to reading "The Girl on the Landing." I found the characters and setting to be immersive - I found myself just pulled into this world of a British upper-crust couple who are sleep-walking through life until something truly unexpected happens. Without giving the plot away, I will say that the novel surprised me, and left me racing to get to the end, only to be scratching my head and wondering what exactly happened (in a good way). I'm glad that Paul Torday took up writing in his 60s (rather than not at all). He has a fresh, unique style and fascinating characters.

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