Don’t forget Inkings and Inklings has moved house!
Head over to House of Blog now to stay, and read my review of Something Happened…
Something Happened by Joseph Heller
Published by Vintage
It was the madness of war that prompted the magnificent lunacy of CATCH-22; it is the malaise of modern America which inspires SOMETHING HAPPENED – a book as stunning and as splendidly original as its predecessor.
Read it here!
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Canongate: paperback published 2006: 196 pages
Murder comes back to haunt you
For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, running a kingdom while her husband is off fighting the Trojan war is not a simple business. As if it isn’t bad enough that he has been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must also bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep more than one hundred lustful, greedy, bloodthirsty suitors at bay… Perhaps not surprising then that it all ends in murder.
Margaret Atwood has given Penelope her own voice so that she can tell her story at last and set the record straight for good.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Vintage Classics: paperback published 2005: 293 pages
In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war. He volunteered for the ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of this experience came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer, and the men and women he meets in Italy, with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war – in it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion. Continue reading
Stoner: A Novel by John Williams
Vintage Classics: paperback published 2012: 278 pages
William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. Later, he becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. his life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely.
Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Faber and Faber: paperback published 2012: 292 pages
Wait now, light me up so we do this right, yes, hold me steady to the lamp, hold it, hold, good, a slow pull to start with, to draw the smoke low into the lungs, yes, oh my…
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room the air is thick with voices and ghosts: Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. A young woman holds a long-stemmed pipe over a flame, her hair falling across her eyes. Men sprawl and mutter in the gloom. Here, they say you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. There is an underworld whisper of a new terror: the Pathar Maar, the stone killer, whose victims are the nameless, invisible poor. In the broken city, there are too many to count. Stretching across three decades, with an interlude in Mao’s China, it portrays a city in collision with itself. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose. Continue reading
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton
Picador: paperback published 1991: 431 pages
Cloudstreet – a broken-down house of former glories on the wrong side of the tracks, a place teeming with memories of its own, a place of shudders and shadows and spirits.
From separate catastrophes, two families flee to the city and find themselves sharing this great sighing structure and beginning their lives again from scratch. Together they roister and rankle in a house that begins as a roof over their heads and becomes a home for their hearts.
In this fresh, funny novel, full of wonder and dreams, Tim Winton weaves the threads of lifetimes, of twenty years of shouting and fighting, laughing and grafting, into a story about acceptance and belonging. Continue reading
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
Gallic fiction: paperback published 2013: 200 pages
Dining along in an elegant Parisian brasseries, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterand sits down to eat at the table next to him.
Daniel’s thrill at being in such close proximity to the most powerful man in the land persists even after the presidential party has gone, which is when he discovers that Mitterand’s black felt hat has been left behind.
After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow … different. Continue reading
World War Z by Max Brooks
Duckworth Publishers: paperback published 2007: 342 pages
It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse. Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality.
Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.
~*~ Continue reading
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Gollancz: paperback published 2007: 628 pages
Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verrar. And the Sinspire.
The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist…
… but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait.
Someone else in Tal Verrar wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another. Continue reading
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
Abacus: paperback published 1990: 244 pages
‘Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different reasons that I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim. That’s my score to date. Three. I haven’t killed anybody for years, and don’t intend to ever again. It was just a stage I was going through.’
Enter – if you can bear it – the extraordinary private world of Frank, just sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.