Sunday, 4 December 2016

'What will survive of us is love.'

Up until the age of 18, I spent all of my summer holidays in the same place – Hull, a city in East Yorkshire, with my grandparents. We’d spend a week or two visiting places nearby – Scarborough, Whitby, Bridlington; but most of the time was spent in and around where they lived in Anlaby. We’d go to the parks, trawl the charity shops, go for picnic lunches, and all sit together around the table having buffet upon buffet of cold cuts, pork pies, boiled eggs, and all the other shit that old people wheel out when they have guests. My favourite day of the trip, every time, was our visits to a little village called Mappleton on the coast where my Grandad had grown up.

All the arrangements have been made. And the thing is, I think that Grandchildren often get a rough deal with these kinds of things. But you and I, we’ve always been good to each other, haven’t we?

No one’s heard of Mappleton, it’s one of those places that you drive straight past. And there’s nothing to do there. Just a big, cold beach, a church, a shop that still sells sweets by the pound and weighs them out on old-fashioned scales.

The reason that Mappleton was my favourite is because I knew that my favourite story was soon to come, and every time the story would start about five miles down the road from the beach, while we were still in the car – ‘I used to walk up this road, or cycle sometimes, in to the town. There’s the farm your great grandma lived on. Here’s where the soldiers pitched up tents during the war…’ a non-stop, practised monologue.

I’ve already mentioned the beach, but to come back to it – it was vast and cold. It is not pretty. There are big ugly rocks that form the cliff, and never an ice cream van or tourists or people flying kites. Just people that had been going there for years, like we had, walking up and down the stretch of sand.

When we got to the cliff where we parked the car, it was story time, at my prompt: ‘Tell me the story about the soldiers, Grandad.’

‘Well, pet. I came down on to the beach to look for shrapnel. The soldiers were stationed up and down the cliffs, and the clifftops were covered in pillboxes, waiting for an invasion. It was evening and I thought if I went down there to look on the sand that no one would see me. But as I was scrabbling around in the near dark, two soldiers pulled me up by my jumper. “What are you doing here? Get away now, or we’ll shoot you at dawn.” And I didn’t need telling twice, pet. I leapt up and ran all the way home, and I could hear them laughing with each other behind me.’

‘My Grandad nearly got shot at dawn in the War!’ I’d tell the story to my schoolfriends every year, and every year they’d listen, rapt, to my description of the beach, and the shop, and the church.

Until I was about five years old there was a leftover pillbox still teetering on the edge of the top of the cliff. A couple of years later it had fallen down to the beach as the cliff eroded, and spent the next five years quietly sinking in to the sand. The first thing my brother and I would do in those years is run up to the cliff edge and scour the beach for the box, before running down and climbing in, looking through the gaps and picking off bits of seaweed, as Grandad stood by us, pointing up at the cliffs: ‘Imagine looking up and seeing this whole clifftop covered in pillboxes. That was what is looked like in the war. They left this one as a reminder. I don’t know where they took the rest.’

Then we’d always do the same thing. Picnic on the beach if the weather wasn’t too bitter (and in the car if it was), trip to the shop for half a pound of wine gums, and up to the church where I’d play Moonlight Sonata, one of his favourites, on the piano, and he’d tell his second story.

‘Now then, this here,’ he’s stroking a wooden box that sits by the piano, which has been elegantly carved with flowers and text. ‘we bought for the church in memory of my sister. She died when she was two months old and instead of a grave marker out there we wanted to keep something in here, where it’s peaceful. I wonder what she would have been like. I hope she can hear you on that piano, pet. I hope she’s safe, wherever she is.’

There has always been a lot of sadness around us. We’ve seen some very sad times. But such happy ones too.

I’d always make us go back down the beach, for a paddle, whatever the weather, and Grandad would dry my feet on a towel he kept in the boot of the car, careful to get each grain of sand out from between my toes before I put my shoes and socks back on.

And then we’d go home, where me and Grandad would talk about all the things that we both loved: classical composers long dead, the great poets, football, plants and animals, while Grandma fussed around us, getting that 70s style buffet out on the table and making pots of tea.

I always preferred animals to people, you know.

I’m the same. You must be where I get it from then, Grandad.

‘Do you need more tea, are you thirsty? Hungry? Would you like some ice cream? I’ve got four tubs of ice cream that need eating up. Have you got any washing? I’ve got these socks for you, are they any good?’

And just at the point where I’m about to tell her to chill the fuck out my Grandad would pipe up.

‘Leave her alone, Dorothy. She doesn’t need anything. She’s always looked after herself. She’s lovely.’

She’s been very bossy today, Peter. Bossed me out of the way to change the beds and vacuum the house. She’s like her Mother.

She’s not. Leave her alone. She’s lovely.

And then we’d eat our tea and Grandad would tell me all the stories I asked for and we’d go to bed., where he’d read to me from books when I was young, until I fell asleep. And those were the best days.

Oh, Pet. It used to be me reading to you. Now look at us!

As I got older it stopped being the Summer holidays that I go and instead turned in to Christmas trips. But as I got older so did they and the trips to Mappleton were fewer and far between and suddenly they stopped. But the stories didn’t.

‘Tell me the story about the soldiers, Grandad.’

And so he would tell it again.

That story about the soldiers shooting you at dawn, Grandad. I must have heard it a hundred times. It’s my favourite.

And then I got older still, and so did they. And I’d still go to visit but now instead of going out for a potter around Hull of an afternoon we stayed inside the house, with the fire on, talking about all the things we loved and hearing Grandad’s old stories. And maybe these days were even better, because it was these days that Grandad and I became friends. Real, proper friends. And we’d talk on the phone all the time. I’d ring and if Grandma would pick up, without saying much  I’d get ‘oh, hello love. He’s in his greenhouse, hang on, I’ll take you down’ or ‘he’s in his chair listening to the cricket, hold on I’ll pass you over.’ And Grandad would stop what he was doing to listen to me and my stories, what had been going on, places I’d been, people I’d met. And I’d tell him secrets. The good secrets and the bad secrets and everything in between and he’d laugh, or give me advice, and always tell me how proud he was of me.

I don’t want to worry your Grandma. And I’m not scared of dying. But I’m pretty terrified of the pain.

I had my last visit to Grandad last week, as he lay in bed, unable to get up. He was really poorly, and so sleepy, and I cared for him.

You should have been a nurse.

The only problem with that idea, Grandad, is that I don’t like anyone apart from you.

But we still did what we knew how to do and just talked. And near the end he got upset. And he’s never been like this, my Grandad.

I’m ready to go now.

Those old men are from a generation where they don’t get upset. But everything was ending and he was sad, and he told me so, and that he wasn’t scared and he’d just miss us all so much. And I won’t tell you everything I said back to him, although we were there a while. But I can tell you how it ended.

We have all been so very lucky, Grandad. We’re all so lucky to have known each other, and to have everything we have.

You’re right, Pet. You’re right.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Best Books of 2015

Hello, and welcome to my 2015 round-up. In a bit I'll tell you the best books of 2015, but I just wanted to give you a few numbers first:

  • In 2015 I read 145 books.
  • I read the most books in February (30).
  • And the least in August and September (5 each).
  • I have made a list of the best 25 books I read in 2015. Out of the 25, 13 are by men and 12 by women - basically an even split.
  • This means that over 17% of the books that I read were good enough for me to want to put them on a Best Of list.

That's pretty good, isn't it? Well done, books.

The rules for the books below are that I must have read a legit copy or a proof copy in 2015. Doesn't matter how long ago any were published, I used to split this in to stuff published this year and stuff published in the past but it was long as fuck and who really gives a shit anyway? I've tried to order these but I can't, so they're in the order that I read them (ish), cos it's easier for me to link to original reviews that way.

Ready? Okay.

From the January round-up

The Islanders by Pascal Garnier
If you like your fiction dark and delicious as fuck then Pascal Garnier is for you. I've read almost all of his now and this one is the hands-down stand out. Wonderfully sinister noir.

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
I read a lot of psychological thrillers in 2015 and Before I Go To Sleep was the one that stood out by a mile. Proper give-yourself-goosebumps kind of creepy and a real page turner.

From the February round-up

Us by David Nicholls
David Nicholls knows how to write about love and relationships and in his latest book has fucking smashed it out of the park again. Made my heart ache and my arms want to grab him and give him a fuck off great big hug.

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
Another dark one about a man who receives a mysterious story through the post. After some investigation it turns out it has been sent to him by a local taxidermist.  If you’re in the market for a Yann Martel book this one shits all over Pi.

Lazy Days by Erlend Loe
A family go on holiday. Bleak and funny, with characters that if you're anything like me you will recognise in yourself and your friends.

The Suicide Shop by Jean Teulé
A fable from the future where life is not so great and so the Tuvache family business of stuff you can buy to aid your suicide is thriving. Pretty fucked up but with wonderful and compassionate characters.

From the March round-up

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
A story about a woman who is unable to have any kind of normal relationship with anyone. This book is a fucking dream, a treat from start to finish.

From the May round-up

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
A story about a man and his one-eyed dog. Fucking beautiful writing, lovely fulfilling story.

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
One that had sat unread on my shelf for a long time but now I’ve read it is one of my firm favourites. The best Orwell I’ve read (so far).

From the June round-up

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
The only non-fiction on my list, this is Cathy’s memoir of her brother Matty, a young man who was hit by a car and later died. An emotional and brave book, the transparency of Cathy and her family makes this tragic story feel close and rejuvenating.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Fucking love me a bit of Agatha. The first Poirot mystery and a great comfort read if you like a good whodunit detective story.

The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend
The title does the job pretty well here, it’s a woman who gets fed up and goes to bed for a year. Reading this reminded me how funny and clever a writer Sue Townsend is and made me sad that she’s gone. Next year I’m going to delight in re-reading the Adrian Mole books.

The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas
I fucking hated My Y but I loved this – an amazing array of characters in a dysfunctional family saga. Bit fucking mad at times, but a very satisfying read.

From the July round-up

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

Is there a bigger babe than Saint Mazie in all the land? No there fucking well is not.  An incredible story about a woman’s life and legacy. Made me feel actual feelings in my cold, dead heart.

The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernières
The new one from Louis is not the South American lolfest that some of you will only be interested in him for, but is the beautiful words, epic family histories, and heartfelt words about love that keep bringing me back to Louis’ writing every time. He is a fucking wonderful writer, and this book cements that fact.

From the August round-up

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Yes it’s long as fuck but it is also fucking good. I like stories that focus heavily on one character through their life and then a smattering of other characters around them. This is one of those. It’s a story about a boy, a tragic event, and said boy's subsequent growing up.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee
A story about a professor at a university, his mistakes and his downfall. A great book that examines motives and the aftermath of decisions we make in the moment.

From the September round-up

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Celeste Price, a glamorous and well respected woman, is in search of a teenage boy to seduce. Shocking, funny, controversial and clever, this is a fucking good book.

From the October round-up

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
A good old fashioned ghost story. Even though I read it back in October I still think I can see that fucking black cloak swishing about whenever I get up during the night.

Playthings by Alex Pheby
A book about a man with a nervous condition, we follow him as his condition deteriorates to the point that we’re confused as to what is fact and what is fiction. A very clever story, and one that was written based on a true story.

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
A couple of gods make a bet as to whether dogs could cope with human emotions. What follows is not the lovely dog-filled romp that I was expecting, but a strong and cautionary tale about relationships, status, power and love.

Fear of Dying by Erica Jong
I just love stories about people and their fucked up lives. Like with a lot of the books on this list, this is a story that focuses around one person. A woman. This woman is realising her own mortality as she’s surrounded by people who are slowly deteriorating. A really engaging read.

From the November round-up

The Stand by Stephen King
The only post-apocalyptic novel I’ve ever read that hasn’t ruined it all with supernatural bullshit. A harrowing yet human story about people in the midst of a deadly flu virus that is sweeping America.

From the December round-up

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace
From the author of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, a modern day fairytale about a girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street train station. Full of heart and hope. This one isn't out until March, but is available for pre-order now.

Am I Cold by Martin Kongstad
A story about a man whose life changes and he begins to live in excess, but without believing in monogamous relationships. Really, really, really fucking funny. Literary but not slow and shit.

So there you have it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015


First book of the month is one that I have been waiting over three years for. One of my favourite authors, Caroline Smailes, author of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, has been reinvented as Caroline Wallace for her new novel The Finding of Martha Lost. Martha Lost is a girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street station in the lost property office. She's a trusting and kind girl who doesn't know much about how she came to live in the train station, and with the help of friends old and new is able to piece together her past and step in to her future.
The Finding of Martha Lost combines the themes that Caroline Wallace is so good at writing about - love, loss, fairytale, fantasy, desire and mystery whilst giving you a fuck off great big punch in the heart while you're least expecting it. It was worth waiting three years for. This was the best book I read this month but it's not out until March. You can (and should) pre-order it at all good bookshops.

Next up was What I Tell You in the Dark whose lead character is an angel that fucked up and annoyed God quite a lot 2,000 years ago. Since then he's not been up to much but has recently been watching one man named Will who's kind of down on his luck and feeling pretty shit for it. Our angel decides to intervene and literally jumps in and gets involved. Fast-paced, dark and fun.

I have certain deep loves for many places in England. London is one of them, as I'm sure you know. But right at the top of the list is Hull. I fucking love Hull. My friends at The History Press kindly sent me Hull & The Humber: Remembering 1914-18 which unsurprisingly is a book about how Hull and its people played a part in the First World War. Containing newspaper extracts, eyewitness reports, photographs old and new and timelines, this is a very thorough and interesting book.

If you've been on Twitter within the last couple of months you've probably seen images of a book called I Love Dick flying about and lots of people waxing lyrical about it, firstly for the big old belly lols that the title provides and secondly after they've read it for the fierce and funny feminism within. It's a book about a woman who falls in love with a man after spending an evening in the company of him and her husband. In her pursuit of this man, who is called Dick, the writing merges fiction, essay and memoir as she and the reader explore her psycho-sexual obsession. A very revealing account of social behaviours and a clever and refreshing read.

Next was Am I Cold, a story following main man Mikkel Vallin and his troubled life - his wife has left him and he's declared war on the monogamous relationship. Mikkel falls in with a bunch of artists and fun-time folk and his life changes in to one of excess and decadence. Not a lot of books make me laugh out loud but this one is so fucking funny and totally in line with my sense of humour. It's dark, witty, deadpan and fun, and I really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended.

Last up for the month (I haven't read anything since I finished this book on Christmas Eve, I've been trying to do things like talk to people more and go outside and stuff and I can tell you now that neither of those things were really up to much, if you were wondering) was Bret Easton Ellis and The Other Dogs. This is a book set in Spain and because of the scope of all of the characters nestles stories within stories which are all brought back to a viewing point by the narration of a young girl named Araceli. Although the plot is moving around so much (which normally confuses me and annoys the fuck out of me) this is one of those stories that you can just let lead you wherever it fancies turning and you'll be happy and delighted to just read along with it. Very clever and a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


November is the best month because it is the month I was born in. Also, the leaves look pretty and it's getting cold and people are getting sad cos it's getting cold and I just love the misery that sweeps over England around this time of year. It is truly wonderful.

All My Puny Sorrows has been recommended to me by basically everyone who's ever read it. It's a story about two sisters - Elf, who wants to die, and Yoli, who doesn't want anyone to die.  From the outside you may wonder why the sisters desires aren't switched - fuck all is going on with Yoli but Elf is a hugely successful musician with a glamorous life. Although the story focuses on a dark and difficult subject, this is overwhelmingly a story about love, what it means to live, and what it means to die. Bittersweet.

The second book of the month is something quite different. It is called Beatlebone. It's in the late 60s and it about a Liverpudlian named John who's in a band and has bought an island off the west coast of Ireland. John. Band. Liverpool. Beatlebone. Based on true events, this is a very witty portrait of an artist at a time when he's in a bit of a creative rut. Clever.

We all know that I love Pascal Garnier, don't we? The Front Seat Passenger lets us follow Fabian as his life takes a turn after his wife is killed in a car crash. In the car with her was another man, her lover. Another dark noir from Garnier, but not his best in my opinion. I like them darker.

If you like Hunter S and Jack K then you might like Burrito Deluxe. It's an adventure story in London and then Mexico featuring two men who are young and full of jizz and tequila. I don't like HST and JK, but I did quite like this, it's not totally self indulgent and annoying like other on the road coming of age adventure novels. Decent.

Another person I love is JK Rowling. The other day I realised that one day she'd die and I cried. A few days later imagined ever meeting her and I cried again and then freaked out a bit. My love for her is so mad that I don't think I could ever get within 100 metres of her lest I really embarrass myself by sobbing and telling her that I think she is perfect. The third book under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym is Career of Evil. Strike and Robin from previous books are still working together as detectives. They've already solved two high profile cases and the third one presents itself in the form of a severed leg being delivered to their office. Not as good as the other two, in my opinion, but still an incredibly readable and gritty crime novel.

My good friend bought me a book for my birthday, one of her favourites. Having learned my lesson from last month when I didn't read a book bought for me for fucking ages I decided that I'd better dip in sooner rather than later. Incendiary is a kind of train of thought, kind of diary, and definitely letter from a woman who has lost her husband and son in a terrorist attack on a football stadium. A powerful story of human fragility, love and loss. Highly recommended.

Although she didn't buy me it, another good friend of mine had been bleating on about The Stand for a good old while, so while I was putting in a books order one day I added it to my basket (I know that I am very late to the party, but let's just pretend that you haven't all read it already). The Stand is about a deadly flu virus that kills most people it comes in to contact with. Stephen King is fucking good at characters and has given us a whole host of people to take us through this epic journey. I did not think I would like this book; I fucking hate post apocalyptic bullshit and you'll have seen in my other reviews that everything I've read of that nature I've despised with a fierce intensity. HOWEVER, now I know where they are all going wrong - it's the shit that they force upon the situation, the supernatural bollocks, the zombies, the fucking vampires. It's all tired as fuck. This is a proper post apocalyptic novel with proper characters, self sacrifice and humanity. Highly recommended, it's fucking big and long though so get an ebook or audiobook. Save your arms. Joint best book of the month.

Panther is a YA novel about (I'm not paid by the word here, or at all actually) a fat lad and his depressed sister. A distraction in the form of a panther allegedly roaming the streets allows him to think about stuff other than him being fat and his mates being shit and his sister being depressed. The problem that I had with this book is that I failed to connect with or even give the tiniest fuck about any of the characters. They fell totally flat. Fine enough idea, but it went straight to the charity shop once I was done.

Every time I turn on channel 4 these days I'm faced with another program about transgender people and their various stages of transitioning. The New Woman seems like the right book at the right time. It's about a happily married man and father who has always known that he was meant to be a woman. A deeply affecting fictional account of a prominent story in society.

The next four aren't in the order that I read them, it's just easier to write about them this way:

I found myself with quite a lot of free time this month so managed to cane it through books 9, 10 and 11 in the Wheel of Time series - Winter's Heart, Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams. Book 9 was the first time in the series that I felt like I knew who everyone was, which was just as fucking well because some cunt decided to sack off about 80% of the glossary for these three. What the fuck. Anyway, this will be boring if you haven't read these/don't read this kind of shit, so I'll just leave it by saying this for those of you who are interested: I spent most of these three books trying to work out who's cooler - Nynaeve or Egwene. I haven't decided yet, but I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Mixed in to those I read Fool's Quest, the second book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb. This was much better than the first in the series, in my opinion, and made me love Robin even more than I already do (which is fucking loads, fyi). After reading this I filled in the gaps in my Robin Hobb collection and am looking forward to doing some reading and re-reading over coming months. If you are interested in reading fantasy but don't know where to start I'd shove you at her Farseer trilogy, which is one of the best bits of fantasy storytelling out there, in my opinion.

Fucking ages ago there was a wonderful event that our friends at The Big Green Bookshop put on - Wood Green Literary Festival. I went to a couple of things there, one of which was a talk with some authors about London and sex and erotic writing and it was there that I bought a book called Harris's List which is made of text reproduced from a booklet popular in 18th century London for listing the many prostitutes of the era, their looks, their quirks and their sexual availability. A very short but interesting read if you're interested in London and/or prostitution.

Another one of those books that people think I have read but I hadn't until late this month - The Bell Jar is one that's worthy of its literary status. I didn't even know what it was about. If you haven't read it, it's about a girl who moves to New York to start her career in publishing and becomes increasingly mentally unstable. A harrowing portrait of how fragile the human mind can be. Best book of the month. (I can't find the cover of the edition that I read, so the one above is the cover that I like the most).

Last one for the month was a borrow off a pal - The Lightless Sky is based on another hot topic - immigration and refugees. This is the author's story of his journey from his home in Afghanistan aged 12 years old, to England.  If you are one of those people who have no sympathy with refugees and the journeys they take then I'd recommend reading this, reading the news, educating yourself and fucking realising how privileged you are to be safe.

If you want to see what I'm reading in REAL TIME, plus my post and all the books I buy then you can follow me on Instagram.

Bye, then.

Friday, 30 October 2015


Have we all put the heating on now? Good.

I have now finally read The Woman in Black. The thing is with being a book blogger is that every cunt expects you to have read whatever ten books they've heard of ever. This is one that came up a lot, and that I wanted to rectify. And I wish I hadn't. Now I can't go for a piss in the night without fucking shitting myself that the shadows in the hallway are that fucking woman swishing her long black cape. A proper traditional creepy ghost story.

Remember when we all had a little chuckle cos I had somehow got myself in to a book club? Well, they're reading all the wrong books now so I just read my suggestion instead which was The Bees. This is a fucking weird book. It's about a bee called Flora and her life in the hive. She doesn't quite fit in to any of the standard groups and as such has a bit of a rollercoaster of a life. Really clever, really interesting and really odd.

From now on whenever someone says to me 'oh but this chicklit is actually really good! It's funny and ironic and mad! hahahaha!' I'm going to fire them straight out of a canon in to the depths of nowhere. Undertaking Love is one of these books that I TRUSTED someone on and this just goes to show why you should never trust anyone. Horrible, vapid two-dimensional characters, predictable plot, absolutely fucking zero lols. A right load of bollocks.

Now then. As we all know I fucking love dragons. I found A Natural History of Dragons in my local library and thought I'd give it a whirl. It all started off pretty well, but by a quarter of the way through I began to notice a problem. HARDLY ANY FUCKING DRAGONS. Just fucking Lady Trent bleating on about this and that. I want a HISTORY of DRAGONS you misleading prick-headed twats. Disappointing.

There are a lot of quotes on the cover of Shame and on the internet from people saying about what a great picture of Africa it paints and loads of shit about light and dark and all of those kinds of words that those people say. I don't know about any of that, but I did enjoy it. It's one of those that goes back and forth between time but is ultimately the story of a woman and her struggle with her past and her present. Decent.

Someone gifted me a copy of The Yellow Wallpaper fucking ages ago and I only recently realised that if someone gifts you something like that that they probably really love it and it should get bumped up your stack of books to read, so I read it. Two years later. This is a very slim book containing seven short stories. The best one is the first one which has the same title of the book and is about a woman going mad. The collection is old, bold, feminist, and very very good. Give them a go.

Sticking with going mad, the new Galley Beggar book come my way a little while ago, which I was delighted to receive. Playthings is a book about a man who is suffering very badly with a nervous condition. I don't want to give away the shape of the story, but it follows said man, a 42 year old judge, and paints a picture of mental illness and madness that is fucking harrowing and yet feels very honest and human. A wonderful book, and one that is based on a true story. Joint best book of the month.

I know I said I'd given up on psychological thrillers but you know how it is, you go down the library and it's wall to wall James Patterson and fucking Patricia bastard Cornwall and you just have to get what feels right at the time. So I got You. This is a book about a lad called Joe who falls in love (sort of, I guess that's one way to describe it) with a young woman named Beck. This is one of those really creepy, you know nothing's going to go right kind of books. Joe is a fucking headcase, and Beck is used to male attention and is confident she can handle herself and whatever situations may arise. Joe is kind of a collector, not that dissimilar to The Collector, that one in the John Fowles book. This reminded me of that. Dark, disturbing, pretty filthy at times. Not bad at all.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it but I fucking love dogs. Imagine my delight when a book called Fifteen Dogs drops through the letterbox. Fifteen dogs! The stuff dreams are made of. I had lovely thoughts about all the lovely dogs having a lovely romp together in a garden or maybe in a field or a lake or at some kind of park and all having a fucking lovely time and me reading a long and getting to know all the dogs whilst weeping with joy. That is not quite what I got. This is actually about gods Hermes and Apollo making a bet over whether dogs having human thoughts will help or hinder them and specifically, whether it will make them unhappy. Although there were some sad dogs in this novel, which did make me sad, it is an incredibly thoughtful and beautifully written book about relationships, finding your way in the unknown, loyalty and survival. Highly recommended.

I haven't quite finished it yet (which is why you're getting a slightly early post cos I'll finish it tomorrow) but I am fucking loving A Notable Woman, which is the edited diaries of a woman named Jean Lucey Pratt who kept journals throughout most of her life - between the years 1925 up to her death in 1986. Jean Lucey Pratt is a fucking megababe. She's cool as fuck and enormously forward thinking and progressive for a woman of her time. She wants to have (cos it's important and she enjoys it) a career, she struggles a bit with men but acknowledges that they are quite fucking difficult at the best of times so doesn't often let that get her too down, has her head screwed on just right while questioning why society think some things are right and wrong in a person and their orientations, and is a top line, glorious, funny and astute writer. She wasn't a famous lady, just someone who loved to write, and I'm hoping that this book will make her name more well known. She is wonderful and I'm a little bit in love. As I say, I haven't finished yet but after all this gushing if it all turns to shit in the last couple of hundred pages I'll be sure to let you know. Another highly recommended, but it is long as fuck (hardback is 700 odd pages) so be warned.

I haven't read Fear of Flying but it's good, right? I got send Erica Jong's new one Fear of Dying and you know how I love a story about a woman and her life, don't you? Well this is a lovely one of those. Our leading lady is called Vanessa. She's married to an older man who can hardly ever bang her anymore, her parents are withering away to nothing in their deathbeds, and she is suddenly realising her mortality. A funny and honest story, which managed to allay some of my anxieties about some of the many things that are wrong with myself and my thoughts and my brain in general. A very good book about an aging woman in a changing world. Joint best book of the month.

Next up was a tiny book of no more than 100 pages. The Cider Camp & Other Tales is one story that is the longest - The Cider Camp - and then a few other much shorter stories. The Cider Camp is in some horrific dystopian future where a way of dealing with homeless alcholoics is to round them up and put them in a camp where they can smoke and drink themselves to death. A bit fucked up, but a fucking good story. The other few stories in this short collection range from one about a vampire to one about a WW2 veteran with a secret. A lovely little collection with some writing that packs a real punch.

Lastly is the one that I finished just now on the way home from work - Hotels of North America. This is about ficitonal motivational speaker Reginald Morse who travels around North America (and occasionally but very rarely) in to Europe to speak at various functions and things and who stays in many hotels of which he leaves reviews for on I liked the idea but the actual execution was a bit long and slow for me, as I'm a very impatient reader. It's basically a lot of Reg giving anecdotes and telling stories which I didn't find that interesting and I thought could have been a bit shorter. Sorry.
Also, I can't find a picture of the cover for this one. I read a proof and you can see a picture of that on my Instagram, if you like.


Thursday, 1 October 2015


Alright, chaps?

You're lucky that you're getting a post this month cos I have been in the most awful reading slump. Yet, here I am, like a fucking hero, and you should all be very thankful. If you'd like to send me a gift to show how thankful you are some things I like are dogs, the sea, and cold hard cash. Picture of a dog in the sea with a fiver paperclipped to it would be literally perfect.

I started with Sunset Song, which is a Scottish novel. Some may say it is the Scottish novel, and it's based around your main lady Chris and her life and woes. And there are some horrific woes. I didn't care enough or have enough feelings to be in any way moved or engaged by this book, but if you're patient and like your literature bleak as fuck and Scottish as fuck, then give this a go.

I don't know if any of you like football but I do. Specifically Italian football. Specifically Serie A. Specifically Andrea Pirlo. Total. Fucking. Babe. Mate. In I Think Therefore I Play Pirlo is telling us all about his career and how he came to be such a fucking megababe. He's also showing us that he's funny as fuck and making me want to hug the shit out of him. If you would like to read a sports autobiography that wonderfully captures the humour and traditional enormous drama of Italians and their fooballers then get your face in this. It is so funny and so perfect.

The Well is a book that I have only heard good things about but that failed to grab me. It's about a woman moving back in to her home after being held somewhere secure following a terrible crime that she may or may not have committed. There's something weird going on but it'll take you a fucking age to find out cos it is so. fucking. slow. Give it a try if you can be arsed but if you get bored then sack it straight off cos once it's lost you you'll be gone for good.

I went through a phase of reading women's psychological thrillers a while ago, and so did every other cunt, do you remember? Well I think I've read the last one now cos I'm fucking bored to death of them. Her is about two women. They're linked somehow but only one of them knows why. This one spends ages being weird and sketchy as fuck. Then things happen cos blah blah fucking bored. A psychological thriller. If you're still in to them then read this one. If you not then don't.

Last one for the month (and the same as last month I think I managed to save the best until last) was Tampa. If you've heard about this book it might be because the hardback had a 'controversial' cover that was pink and look a bit like a cunt slit. Anyway, you've got to watch it with books that do things like that, cos sometimes all their shock factor is on the fucking cover and the insides are fucking dry as fuck. This is not one of those. This is the story of Celeste Price and her search for and seduction of a teenage boy. As vile and awful as some of the stuff in the book is, it also manages to be effortlessly funny as fuck, clever, and mad. I love it. Highly recommended.

That's all. Goodbye.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


The Summer is over. As all around you people get sadder and sadder cos the nights are drawing in and it is dark when you get up for work spare a thought for the miserable cunts like me who have suffered all the way through Summer and are now fucking delighted that it is cold and dark and damp. Mmmm, misery.

So. August started with a book that was on my shelf but that I had absolutely no intention of reading. But then guess what happened? I got roped in to a fucking book group. A book group! Jesus fucking H, eh? And what did the silly cunts do, they chose the longest book in the fucking world. I was furious. Anyway. I had no idea about what The Goldfinch was about before I started it cos what do you need to know? Fuck all except it's long and it's by the incredibly fit/terrifying Donna Tartt. I don't think that you need me to tell you about it either, cos let's be honest, you've already made up your mind that you're going to read it. Or not. Anyway. I am glad that I read it because it is actually really fucking good. The goodness doesn't escape from the fact that it is long as fuck though. If you want to, and if you can be bothered then do. It is one of those slow moving, not many characters chaps that takes you on a proper journey. It's good stuff. But long. Long.

Then I read another book. A book that I'd read before actually, twice. The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is one of my all-time favourites cos it is fucking bursting at the seams with love and life. It is also sad and dark as fuck so has literally everything you could ever want from a book. I was re-reading this because of the Kickstarter campaign to get the book made in to a film which you can back here and is still going for a day or so. I originally reviewed this book when I first read it. You can read that review here, if you like.

In real time I was still ploughing on with The Goldfinch, by the way. I didn't finish it until just before I started the next book down. Did I mention it's fucking long?

Next up was A Hand Reached Down To Guide Me - a book of short stories by a chap named David Gates. David Gates is a literary writer. He's the kind of literary writer who is readable, though, and who doesn't make me want to throw myself off something high. This collection is a wonderful observation of lots of very different people coming up against life's various obstacles.

My dear pal gave me a proof of this book called Carrying Albert Home which is about a man, his wife, and her pet alligator Albert. Your man Homer is content. His wife Elsie is itching for something. Anyway. They decide that Albert needs to go home to Florida, and so they take him. On the way they get in all sorts of hilarious/interesting bother with a whole cast of eccentric and entertaining characters. Kind of reminded me a bit of Forrest Gump. A nice story. Sometimes sad, yet ultimately heartwarming. You know the sort.
(P.S. I don't know if that cover up there is correct. Sorry.)

Last, and the winner of Best Book of August is Disgrace. Now then, Arthur Braxton would have had it but I don't think it qualifies, what with it being one of my favourites ever and also a re-read. So it's the last book I read in August that is the champ.
Disgrace is the story of David Lurie, professor at a university in South Africa who makes some decisions that lead to him not being a teacher any more and instead living in the countryside. This book is difficult and compelling all at once - beautifully written yet often uncomfortable in its straightforward and honest examination of this man and his life and actions, and the lives of those around him. Highly recommended.

Bye, then.