2014 – the wonders – paddy o’reilly

Wonders

The stare is a different thing altogether. Leon had come to think of the stare as admiration Maybe Kathryn was right. A child uses the stare as a tool of curiosity and wonder. The grotesque is wonderful. The malformed is wonderful, the unexpected is wonderful and so is the beautiful. There is far less judgement in the unguarded stare of a child than the hush-ups of their adult companions.

He told Kathryn how, at a private dinner, a child who was waiting in the corridor for her waitress mother to finish work had asked him if he was a robot. That made him laugh. ‘Is your brain made of metal too?’ she asked. She was five, the age when the questions pour out of a child like milk out of a jug. ‘Do you eat nails? Why did they put it in that way? Do you have feelings?’

‘Oh yes,’ Leon answered her. ‘I have so many feelings that sometimes I think I’ll burst.’

‘Me too, she replied gravely. She touched his hand and looked up at his face with serious eyes. Eyes that didn’t waver. Eyes that never flickered once to the hole in his chest

Earlier this week, I reviewed Paddy O’Reilly’s The Wonders for Newtown Review of Books. It’s a novel so full of ideas it might burst. If you’re interested, head over and take a look.

2014 – angela meyer ~ captives

captives

Captives is slightly larger in size than Paul Wilson’s ‘miniature’, The Little Book of Calm – however, if you’re looking for anything calm in these 112 pages, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The Little Book of Unheimlich would have made a fitting subtitle for Meyer’s collection of 37 captivating microfictions – short works of anything between a single paragraph and a few pages, each bound together by a shared sense of deep disquietude. 

Scuttle over to Newtown Review of Books and read the rest of my review of Angela Meyer’s Captives – a deceptively cute little book about dark, dark things.

More? But of course. Here’s an interview with Angela Meyer by Daniel Young from Tincture Journal about the publication of Captives – as well as writing in a more general sense.

(Coincidentally, happy birthday for today, Franz Kafka! I didn’t have any cockroaches on hand, so ladybeetles will have to do…)

2014 – damon galgut ~ arctic summer

arcticsummercover

He knew it now: this would be his last novel. He had threatened it before, but this time, he thought, it was true. Beyond the imaginings in India, no feature broke the horizon. He could feel that something had been used up. If he’d stuck to what was familiar and safe, a comfortable tapestry of tea parties and English scenery, he might have kept a quiet industry going, writing numerous books of a similar nature. But the world that interested his was disappearing, or already gone, buried under motor cars and machinery and the smoke of war. Writers should see ahead, not constantly be looking behind them, and his powers couldn’t keep pace with history. There would be no more books like this one.

Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer is a tantalising thing – it’s a novel about a novel; a fictionalised look at the life of EM Forster during the years he spent writing his final book, A Passage to India. And while Galgut’s Forster in the passage above is indeed right – there’s no other book like A Passage to India – there aren’t many books around that are quite like Arctic Summer, either.

I’ve reviewed Arctic Summer for Newtown Review of Books. Click here to take a look.

(Also, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the Paris Review interview with Forster I mention in my review, in which Forster discusses his own Arctic Summer)

2014 – the lost girls ~ wendy james

thelostgirls

The woman has come prepared: she takes a recorder, notebook, pens and a small bottle of water out of her bag, arranges them carefully. Close up, the woman is not plain, as I’d first thought, but beautiful – her eyes large and dark, mouth full, cheekbones high. I wonder whether she’s deliberately made herself appear plain, bland. And why.

She clears her throat then speaks quite formally, as if she’s reading from a script.

‘I’m going to ask you some questions…’

I’m lucky enough to be over at Newtown Review of Books today, reviewing Wendy James’s sixth novel, The Lost Girls. Thank you, NRB!

(Also, it’s Newtown Review of Books’ second birthday this year! They’ve got a Donate button on their site – why not make a contribution?)