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Booksthatmatter "Booksthatmatter" (Brighton, UK)

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Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will
Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will
by Judith Schalansky
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Exquisite, 28 Nov. 2011
I am completely besotted: this book is wonderful. The conceit is charming. The writing is clever and engaging. The production is superb. It meets my needs aesthetically, intellectually and (in a travel sense) romantically. I could not ask more from a book!


Twentysix
Twentysix
by Jonathan Kemp
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak, Uplifiting, Bittersweet, Smart, 12 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Twentysix (Paperback)
This is a very adjectival book - layer upon layer of description. In the hands of another writer it would be overpowering or flowery, but in the hands of a master wordsmith like Jonathan Kemp it is an entirely seductive piece of writing. 26 anonymous sexual encounters: 26 different takes on eroticism. It is a complicated, ambitious but alluring book which is somehow compressed into very few pages. Strangely unsettling and intoxicating by turn it is likely every one-night-stand ever had rolled into one. Here and there a very sly humour sneaks in which lifts the book enormously.

Everyone who's ever had sex or thought about having sex should read Twentysix and ponder.


Into the Darkest Corner
Into the Darkest Corner
by Elizabeth Haynes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, gripping and disturbing, 8 Nov. 2011
One of my most unsettling recent reads as we are effectively locked in to the life of a woman who has never really recovered by a previous attack/crime. She is left a neurotic, OCD person whose life is permanently on edge ... and then comes a phone call. Has her attacker returned.

Tense, scary, creepy - I really really liked this stunning book.


Great British Losers: Heroic Failures and Brazen Bunglers
Great British Losers: Heroic Failures and Brazen Bunglers
by Gordon Kerr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Facts, 8 Nov. 2011
I have to say that this book is a perfect dip-into gift for a relative ... splendid pre-Christmas time. I'd previously read Kerr's Dead Famous: The Final Hours of the Notable and Notorious which served that same trivia-laden purpose. Entertaining factoids and nuggets with a good idea behind it. I learned a few things along the way and will be getting a copy for my Dad and for my Uncle. Sorted! And hay, what's wrong with coming second???


The Aerodynamics of Pork
The Aerodynamics of Pork
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Real Soft Spot For this Book, 5 Nov. 2011
I read this when it first came out, as a young gay man it was also when I first came out. It seemed touching and sweet and impossibly romantic and I desperately wanted to live in its world.

So years pass and I'm a bit old and grizzled and definitely DON'T live in Gale's world at all, or one even vaguely like it. Its a bit of a period piece now (how young, how naive we all once were...) but it remains its lovely self with its sweet humanism at its heart. I really enjoyed re-reading it and just for a moment I was back in my youth. It has a gaucheness to it that is endearing rather than irritating. I've no idea how it would read to a young gay man now ... but anyone who lived (or learned to live) in the early 80s do pay a visit to this little romance.


Interpreters
Interpreters
by Sue Eckstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Powerful, 2 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Interpreters (Paperback)
INTERPRETERS is one of those novels that swiftly lodges itself into your mind and won't let go. INTERPRETERS is very craftily structured keeping the reader one step ahead of the central character and for such a serious book it is actually a real page turner. The prose itself is one of the greatest joys of the book - it is pared back and precise. You know that you are in the hands of a really skilled writer. I read a review of this in the Times Literary Supplement which drew a parallel with THE READER The Reader which seems really appropriate. I really admired and enjoyed INTERPRETERS and urge everyone to read it.


Sadomasochism for Accountants
Sadomasochism for Accountants
by Rosy Barnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A hoot, 29 Oct. 2011
When, oh when will the next Rosy Barnes novel release? Dark and clever social comedy at its best. Read it and laugh!


The Other Wind: The Sixth Book of Earthsea: An Earthsea Novel
The Other Wind: The Sixth Book of Earthsea: An Earthsea Novel
by Ursula K. LeGuin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Unmissable, Sophisticated, 29 Oct. 2011
Ursula Le Guin is a writer who has been with me all my life, so to speak. I was drawn back into her wonderful books as the result of her intermittent reviews in The Guardian's book pages which are always searching and interesting. Not to mention beautifully written.

I find the revisiting of Earthsea utterly fascinating - much as I loved (as a child) The Wizard of Earthsea, the thing that fascinates is how Le Guin's roving intellect has moved away from magic to the very nature of humanity. The daughter of anthropologists (and how it shows) she dissects the very nature of society and gender in particular in this powerful and evocative tale. And yet she never loses the magic of narrative and tells a gripping and powerful story which makes her subtle observations something that creep under your skin and seep into your consciousness. I continue to be surprised by people who think she's just a writer of teenage fantasies, rather than one of our finest moral philosophers at the peak of her abilities.


THE MAN ON THE BALCONY, THE MARTIN BECK SERIES
THE MAN ON THE BALCONY, THE MARTIN BECK SERIES
by Maj Sjöwall
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nicci French precursor, 31 July 2007
I was really interested to discover and read this 1960s Scandinavian detective novel by a husband-wife team in the style of Nicci French meets Henning Mankell. A lot of 1960s/70s crime fiction doesn't stand up to modern scrutiny, marred by among other things casual racism and sexism. The Man on the Balcony is a marked exception - and a fascinating one. The authors' biog (which is quite brief) passes an interesting comment - identifying them as lifelong Marxists. An unusual statement in a crime novelists' author blurb - a context which usually tends to more anodyne comments. But it is, I suspect, quite significant.

The Man on the Balcony ticks all the crime/thriller boxes of plot, characterisation and atmosphere, but more interestingly it provides an understated but compelling critique of modern (or at least post-War) society. Throughout the book the reader is made aware of the corrosion eating away at social structures, mores, workplace, family relationships. It is incredibly well done - not an in-your-face lecture, just a gradual accumulation of inference. Like Nicci French, there is no sense of two authorial voices or any division of purpose and it is a very smooth and convincing read. I believe Sjowall and Wahloo wrote 10 novels in the series before Per Wahloo died and the books stopped. There's quite a lot about them on the internet including this Britannica entry, and there is a lot of comment on both their literary and political legacy. I am very excited to have found them by chance and can't wait to get my hands on the other 9 books. They also appear to have influenced some fairly awesome literary luminaries including Grahame Greene and Henning Mankell.


The Rules Of Perspective
The Rules Of Perspective
by Adam Thorpe
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful & Fresh, 31 July 2007
There is pure gold to be found in the form of Adam Thorpe's The Rules of Perspective, which pulls off the challenge of finding something fresh to say about the human condition and the Second World War.

This is an extremely powerful novel, compellingly written and completely devoid of resistance workers, farmers wives hiding airmen or any of a dozen cliches of that conflict. Thorpe skilfully interweaves two stories - one of a young American soldier taking part in the liberation of Germany, and the other of a group of German art gallery staff taking cover in their museum under the Allied bombardment. We know from the very outset that they do not survive the ordeal as Parry (the American) finds their corpses as the novel begins, but we do not know how or to what purpose their stories will unite. Because the reader knows of the Germans' fate, the whole book is infused with a disturbing sense of doom - but Thorpe exhumes more than just their final hours and the conclusion of the book was, to me at least, totally un-anticipated.

Thorpe is a very poised and considered writer. I knew of him, but I shall now be seeking out the rest of his books


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