Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan sure does have the corner on the middle-class-white-men-having-existential-crises market, doesn’t he?

In Machines Like Me, McEwan conjures a world not quite like the one we know. It’s the eighties in Britain – the Falklands War has been lost, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – a midlife crisis, a town, and violent children

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week I’ve selected three from the last pages of my Kindle (meaning they’ve been there for years!) – I have no idea how I came across any of them. Continue reading

Some Tests by Wayne Macauley

A few years ago, I decided to get to the bottom of my frequent migraine headaches. It was the beginning of an eight month process of tests (mostly ‘ruling things out’), visits to four doctors, and various medications and procedures. My experience ended with an iron infusion which ultimately made all the difference to my migraines, however, there were moments on this medical merry-go-round when I thought I was wasting my time and money.

Wayne Macauley captures this exact situation in his strange novel, Some Tests. Continue reading

An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

This book is bananas.

I didn’t ‘like’ it but it’s hard not to be impressed by something that is so incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

But before I go on, it should be noted that Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace comes with a big bunch of trigger warnings (rape, sex crimes against children, treatment of paedophiles). Continue reading

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

It’s almost impossible to find a review of The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood without the reviewer comparing* it to Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m bucking the trend and here’s why: the central premise of both novels is extraordinary – memorable, mind-bending, frightening, and thoroughly compelling.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale decades ago. I can’t remember any of the fine detail of Atwood’s writing but I do remember the horrifying world in which the characters lived. I’m quite sure that in twenty years time, I will also remember Consilience, the walled community created for The Heart Goes Last. Continue reading

Reading the Stella Prize Shortlist – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

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Read my review of The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood here.

It’s a book that demands thought and discussion. It’s a book that is current and topical but also serves as a cautionary tale. It’s a book that is skilfully and beautifully written. It’s a book that I couldn’t put down – at the same time, I couldn’t guess where it was heading. It’s a book that I finished and thought “I need to talk to someone immediately about that last page!”.

Basically, it’s a book prize judge’s dream. And for that reason…

Will it win the Stella Prize? Yes. And I said so here and here.

Reading in the danger zone

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Do you start singing a certain Kenny Loggins hit when you hear the words ‘comfort zone’? I do. Even though comfort and danger are pretty much opposites… Anyhoo, my comfort zone is contemporary literature. I don’t stray often but there have been some notable (and excellent) exceptions in the last year or so –

Speculative Fiction Continue reading