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writing of readerly reviews of writings

Tag: :JI’s Bookshelf:

Review: Jeanette Winterson’s “Lighthousekeeping”

jeanette winterson lighthousekeepingIt’s as I’d feared. I’ve been trialling Winterson again after many years of sneering, and I’m afraid this is one of her novels that left me less than impressed. Well written and fluid, but ultimately shallow and unremarkable – gosh, it’s all about love. Every line is a charming aphorism, the whole scaffolded on whimsical epigrams, but essentially unmemorable. I know it’s demanding to ask for a novel to have something to say, but I will continue to be unreasonable.

Where it came from: JI’s bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
A beddy-bye sampler and a morning get-it-bloody-out-of-the-way devour
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that: Substance is all
Who I’d recommend it to:
Those seeking some fluff by someone famous
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

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Review: Jeanette Winterson’s “Written on the Body”

jeanette winterson written on the bodyDon’t come at me with the baloney that the narrator is an unnamed “Lothario, gender undeclared” (per the blurb). Bollocks. She’s totally a dyke. (Else, why the scene in the urinal, hmm?) The tale: Narrator, survivor of many conquests of/by married women, is enraptured by redheaded Australian Louise. Thankfully, it is reciprocal. But then, Louise’s slighted husband has news for Narrator, and the corporeal worship from afar begins. Will love conquer all? A gripping book, gorgeously written, poetic, about ladies in love. What’s not to like? Read away, highly recommended. Glad that Winterson has proven her mettle again.

Where it came from: JI’s bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Evening armchair devour
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that: The pleasure of a satisfying reread
Who I’d recommend it to:
Readers, particularly lady-lovers, after dramatic protestations of love
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust; 142 Strand by Rosemary Ashton

Review: Deborah Rodriguez’ “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul”

deborah rodriguez little coffee shop of kabulI only read this one because it was urged upon me three times in one day and then left for me in the mail tray. Summary: a perceptive piece of war-zone fluff, if such a genre exists. Sunny owns the café, she has a rich blonde stooge of a friend Candace, a tough-as-nails British journo (OMG, she uses words like “shag”! how quaint!) Isabel, an Aghani house mother Halajan, and fleeing-stolen-pregnant “country bumpkin” Yazmina. There’s charming tales of food and customs and clashes between tradition and modernity, amid romance and terrorist attacks. Aw shucks. But really, not a bad book, good to read of ex-patting NOT from a white/upper-middle class/NGO background, and reminds me how glad I am not to be a piece of war-zoning fluff any longer. I’d actually recommend it.

Where it came from: JI’s Bookshelf via ED
Time and manner of reading:
Book, bed, park and hairdresser reads
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that: How nice it is not to see machine guns several times a day
Who I’d recommend it to:
Those on the look-out for politically informed light reads
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Delaunay by Hajo Duchting

Review: Gail Jones’ “Five Bells”

gail jones five bellsFour main characters out and about in Circular Quay, Sydney. One glorious January day during the War on Iraqi Terror. (Supposedly) five lives which (sort of) intersect in both subtle and overt ways. A tacked-on ending related to a police search. A thunderstorm finale.

Gail Jones can be an excellent writer, and I loved Sorry and the short stories I’ve read; unfortunately, this novel lacked the dazzle and lucidity I’d come to expect. Jones’ sharp competence is clearly present, and it is a solid work, but I found the structural device of “interlocking characters in the same scene” unoriginal (and unchallenged), and what little narrative there was lacked dynamism. I didn’t take anything new away from this novel, and look forward to reading more spark in her others.

Where it came from: JI’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Bed, café, bench and bed reads
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Non-Sydneysiders wanting a picturesque understanding of the Harbour
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Review: J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy”

jk rowling the casual vacancyI only read this one because it got three rave reviews on the farm and my opinion was specifically sought. Accordingly, my opinion: Not worth reading. It’s pacy, she’s obviously set up a plot full of conflict, but all of the characters seem to be more-or-less clichéd cretins, I’m unmoved by their issue, and neither the writing nor the premise have originality or charm to recommend them. Negligible fluff. Abandoned.

Where it came from: JI’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading: Two attempts, total of 70-odd pages; little has stuck in my mind
Where it went:
Home
Reminds me of/that: An overplayed small-town soap opera – KS sneers that it’s a book version of East Enders
Who I’d recommend it to:
Nope
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch;The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon;Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler