Life Knocks – Craig Stone
Life Knocks belongs to a very specific genre. It’s the same sort of writing as The Peep Show, The Inbetweeners and The Office, which is to say British urban/suburban men consuming a lot of alcohol to cope with their awkward social skills and their dreary and failing lives. The narrator, inexplicably named Colossus Sosloss, is living in a studio flat, rented from a bigoted Pakistani pensioner with no sense of privacy, and spends most of his time either wallowing in self-pity or failing to have sex, or more often, both.
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Paper Towns – John Green
After loving The Fault in Our Stars so much, I was really excited to read more of John Green’s works. Unfortunately, I think I made a mistake starting with The Fault in Our Stars, because Paper Towns was lacking so much that made his latest book such a good read.
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The Testament of Mary – Colm Toíbín
The Testament of Mary is, I suppose, quite a controversial book. Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Colm Toíbín’s novella is a character study of an aging Mary remembering the death of her son. This genre of biblical revisionism is not entirely original, as I’ll go into more detail below, but I still really enjoyed this work.
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Breathless – Anna Swärd
Breathless, is a difficult book to talk about, not because it had anything particularly challenging to say, or because I’m not sure how I felt about it; I know that while it was quite engaging, I didn’t really enjoy it. The thing is that I’m not sure how much of my opinion is of the translation rather than the book.
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Brooklyn Heights – Miral al-Tahawy
Brooklyn Heights, which tells the story of Hend, a single mother who emigrates from her village in Egypt to New York City, is interesting mostly because of the story it tells about her early life, rather than because of the post-immigration narrative. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s enough to carry the whole book.
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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept – Elizabeth Smart
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept is beautiful in its way. Semi-autobiographically telling the story of the author’s romantic engagements with a married man, the book is one of the best known and well-respected books in the prose-poetry genre. The back cover features positive reviews from such luminaries as the London Review of Books, Beryl Bainbridge and Michael Ondaatje. As a newcomer to the genre, I was taken in by the lyrical depth of the prose.
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The Crane Wife – Patrick Ness
A word of advice. It’s probably not a good idea to choose your reading material based solely on the fact that the epigraph is taken from a song by a band you like. I know that The Crane Wife is actually based on a Japanese folk tale, but it was solely because of the reference to the Decemberists that I wanted to read the book. I’d made the assumption that because the author liked the same sort of music as me, he would also write fiction that I liked. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with The Crane Wife
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