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TheMightyBuch "@TheMightyBuch" (Cardiff)

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The Lonely Hearts Club (Five Star Paperback)
The Lonely Hearts Club (Five Star Paperback)
by Raul Nunez
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankie doesn't go to Hollywood..., 23 Jan. 2007
Set in the seedy underbelly of pre-Olympic Barcelona, Nuñez's enduring tale of love, lust and loneliness centres on Antonio `Frankie' Castro, night porter in a run down hotel, as he searches for someone to love through the ads in a lonely hearts brochure. When the contacts become more and more bizarre, from a frumpy housewife with a psychotic son to a poetry-writing dwarf looking to lose her virginity, Frankie's life starts to spiral out of his control, until one moment of happiness brings him out of his funk. Of course, disaster is never far away. With crisp, punchy prose and a truly absurd but somehow endearing fool at the heart of it, `The Lonely Hearts Club' is a study in macho pride - or the lack thereof - and human eccentricity, in a vivid cinematic landscape. Frankie is a Bukowski-esque character straight from the Trees Lounge bar. It's frighteningly simple, and simply good!


And the Ass Saw the Angel (Essential Penguin)
And the Ass Saw the Angel (Essential Penguin)
by Nick Cave
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark poetry, 9 Jan. 2007
Cave's obsession with all things grotesque could have led to this book becoming a vile carnival of obscenity. However, in the story of Euchrid Eucrow, the product of generations of inbreeding and hard drinking, we discover a refined literary talent. As Euchrid, vilified social outcast, is persecuted by his community, his delicate soul cries out from amidst the circus of hypocrisy betraying sensitivity well-disguised. A poignant and tragic tale, it delivers indictments of religious pomposity in prose poetry bordering on the bombastic.

Cave has writen a prose version of his Murder Ballads, bleak ending and generally unpalatable characters all present and correct. It's fantastic fiction.


The Long Dry
The Long Dry
by Cynan Jones
Edition: Paperback

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long and short of it, 9 Jan. 2007
This review is from: The Long Dry (Paperback)
Again touching on the deep connection between man and the land, Jones' first novel, written with a decidedly mournful quality, muses on the fractured relationships and the miscommunication that exists amongst those living in a close community. Having found that one of his cows was missing, Gareth sets out to track it down, only to find himself ruminating on the nature of his marriage and the ability of mankind to persevere in spite of everything. Bold and punctuated with some scintillating imagery, this is an excellent debut. Now I realise I sound like his publicity machine, but Jones' first stab at respectable ficion is very nearly flawless, some incidental and occasionally, I thought, inappropriate humour aside. It does give valuable insight into the plight of the farming communities in Wales, and little gems of typical Welshness!

I thouroughly recommend this to all and sundry!


Life And Fate
Life And Fate
by Vasily Grossman
Edition: Paperback

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IMPORTANT, 8 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Life And Fate (Paperback)
Suffering KGB suppression for nearly thirty years, Grossman's masterpiece is a damning indictment of the ideological basis of the Soviet Union. Centred on the siege of Stalingrad in 1942, it focuses on the triumph of the Red Army, ill-equipped but determined, over the military superiority of the advancing Nazi war machine. With typical Russian stoicism, the defenders revel in the paradoxical freedom they enjoy as the Soviet secret police lose their grip of terror in the face of a common enemy. Aggressively political and deeply personal, `Life and Fate' could be one of the most important novels of the 20th century.


Cancer Ward
Cancer Ward
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cure for cancer, 8 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Cancer Ward (Paperback)
With an outlook as bleak as a Russian winter, but a message like the faint hope of spring, a Communist Party member whose incarceration on the ward due to a huge growth on his neck is the catalyst for a story full of optimism and plans for the future, despite the evident strains placed on the other inmates and nurses by the political forces at work in the post-war Soviet Union. A graphic allegory of the corruption inherent in the state, this is also a superb celebration of the irrepressibility of the human spirit: Truly, a depiction of "Homo Sovieticus" at its most resilient.


A Life's Music
A Life's Music
by AndreÔ Makine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Briefly enduring, 8 Jan. 2007
This review is from: A Life's Music (Paperback)
With brevity untypical of a Russian classic, Makine's novella is a contradiction of concise storytelling and epic narrative, imbued with pathos reminiscent of Gogol and the dark humanism of Solzhenitsyn. This sweeping tale is framed by the chance meeting in an isolated, snow-bound train station deep in the old Soviet Union of a young man struck by the essence of "Homo Sovieticus" and an old man, weeping over a piano, as they both wait for a long overdue train for Moscow. As the first concerns himself with the indomitable spirit of a downtrodden yet resolute people, he is presented with the life story of one of the millions of Russians oppressed under Stalinist rule, who survived thanks to the very quality that Zinoviev's term encapsulates. With great lyricism and sparse yet emotive prose, Makine produces something that can be read in an evening, but that will stay with you for your lifetime.


Dead Babies
Dead Babies
by Martin Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mordant wit abounds, 1 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Dead Babies (Paperback)
In Amis' second novel, his repellent cast of drug users, sexual deviants and sociopaths spends a weekend at Appleseed Rectory that would have shamed Bacchus. With characteristically acerbic and mordant wit, some aggressively youthful disregard for literary and social propriety, and a flair for economical and yet descriptive prose, Amis' sledgehammer approach leaves the reader aghast but eager for more of the same. With the vile Keith as the masochistic and odious fulcrum around which the action revolves, violent absurdity abounds in this incendiary and twisted book. It requires a strong stomach, but the rewards are rich indeed. Plus, there's a killer twist!


A Friend of the Earth
A Friend of the Earth
by T. C Boyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars friendly, but somewhat ty-ring., 1 Jan. 2007
This review is from: A Friend of the Earth (Paperback)
Ty Tierwater is 75 and in charge of a rock star's private menagerie of endangered species. How he came to this, he's not quite sure, but with the Earth's fragile ecological balance finally upset, he looks back on his life, and his time in Eco terrorist group `Earth Forever!' with a wry and resigned humour at odds with the current state of his affairs. Lost - and regained - loves, the martyrdom of his only daughter to the eco cause, and his own enthusiastic but clumsily ineffectual environmental efforts provide fuel for the fire of reminiscence, all delivered in Boyle's own inimitable style.

A moral message? Yup, I guess so. But once again, Boyle manages to expertly tell his tale, and yet deliver characters that are resolutely and defiantly imoprobable, or rather, undeserving of sympathy or empathy. Good story, well told, bt somewhat unengaging.


Ghost of Chance (High Risk Books)
Ghost of Chance (High Risk Books)
by William S. Burroughs
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lemurs and diseased minds, 1 Jan. 2007
A short novella, Ghost of Chance is on the surface the story of Captain Mission, a supposedly historical figure turned pirate, with a unique vision for a utopian society on the island of Madagascar. His colony, dubbed `Libertatia', has no capital punishment, no slavery, and no influence on religion or sexuality. The one, rather strange, commandment is that all inhabitants respect the native lemurs. From this unusual but relatively straightforward starting point, Burroughs quickly abandons his linear narrative to indulge in the addressing of some familiar concerns, namely paranoia, drug use and the irrevocable human stain. Embodied by "The Board", a mysterious and sinister group propagating the "Big Lie", the human race, with its Cartesian belief in the lack of an animal soul, threatens the safety of the settlement and the population of the ghost lemurs, to whom Mission has pledged protection.

Touching a variety of philosophical bases and delivering a broadside on the viral nature of Christianity, yet with some oddly over-wrought footnotes, Burroughs' lectures are all the more apt for their prescience in a time of global ecological uncertainty, and his own chaotic illustrations add an extra dimension of impending doom.

Challenging, yet evocative, Burroughs haunts the imagination.


All Souls' Day
All Souls' Day
by Cees Nooteboom
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soles of Memory, 26 Dec. 2006
This review is from: All Souls' Day (Paperback)
Arthur Daane is a Dutch cinematographer, numbed by the death of his wife and child, attempting to capture the forgotten moments of life on film as he flits from job to job, from city to city. When he first appears, this lost soul is wandering the streets of post-Iron Curtain Berlin, feeling the history of the city through his feet, what his eccentric friend Victor calls the "soles of memory". His is an itinerant life, and near aimless with it, until he meets an intriguing female student named Elik.

Nooteboom's grasp of history, his playful toying with Dutch and German and his near didactic philosophising mean that the increased volume of what is a meatier tome than his usual slim fables allows scope for a breathtaking depiction of a scarred Berlin and a cacophonous echoing of digression. This is dark and edgy, yet beautiful and powerful, much like the mysterious and bewitching Elik Oranje.


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