posts tagged ‘fiction’

A first rate tale, second rate prose

February 22nd, 2017
A first rate tale, second rate prose

The Fall of Giants, by Ken Follet

I love the ambition of this book, and it seems that Follett achieved his goal: the grand tale of the political upheavals of the early 20th Century Europe, and then the unfathomable horror that was the Great War. I really like how meticulously detailed and carefully researched the book is. He spins a fascinating plot, even if it is implausible.…

Number 9 Dream

September 20th, 2012
Number 9 Dream
By David Mitchell

The cover is a Japanese bullet train curled into the shape of a 9.

I’m not sure what the title refers to—maybe I need to read it again?  But this is an exquisite coming of age novel, set in contemporary Tokyo.

The protagonist is a very lost and confused teenage boy who habitually retreats into fantasy.  The narration drifts seamlessly into and out of his fantasy world, until he finds it possible to deal with the reality around him.…

The Wreck of the Mary Deare

September 19th, 2012
The Wreck of the Mary Deare
by Hammond Innes

Who remembers Hammon Innes, a prolific and popular writer of thrillers from Britain in the mid 20th Century?

This is the most well known of Hammond Innes’ 30 odd adventure novels. Published in 1956, and worth a good price for the cover art alone, its a fine and nuanced tale.  Unusual for nautical fiction, it describes both good sailing adventure with operation of a huge, derelict freighter.…

Cloud Atlas

September 7th, 2010
Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell

David Mitchell is by far my favorite author these days. I’ve read all his books and every one is awesome, but the very best is Cloud Atlas. Mitchell has a very intense way of writing. He can create a character in a particular time and place, seemingly any time and place, from the 18th Century to the 1970s California, to contemporary Japan to science fiction far into the future.…

Master and Commander

September 7th, 2010
Master and Commander
by Patrick O’Brien

For any reader who has a soft spot for 18th Century historical fiction, the Aubrey-Maturin series, by Patrick O’Brien, are essential. These are written with vivid detail combined with a curiously modern sense of plot: the plots seem to meander in a realistically random way.…

Cat Man

August 4th, 2010
Cat Man

by Edward Hoagland

A novel from my teenage years. Cat Man is a novel of running off to join the circus. The protagonist finds work caring for the cats: lions and tigers. He becomes more obsessed with the great cats with each chapter. But it is not the protagonist’s disastrous fixation that makes the book, it is the sumptuous detail in the operation of a mid 20th century circus.…

Corelli’s Mandolin

July 16th, 2010
Corelli's Mandolin

by Louis de Bernières

This is the sort of novel that transports the reader to an extraordinary time and place. Vivid, passionate, and erudite, it is lovely writing. If the vocabulary of the first chapter doesn’t make you sit up and get out the dictionary (i.e. computer) then you are more literate than I.

The essential subject is that the horror of the second world war intrudes on the paradise of Greece.…

Capricornia

July 16th, 2010
Capricornia
epic novel by Xavier Herbert.

Perhaps Herbert saw himself as Australia’s Dostoyevsky. Capricornia rolls along like a massive, tragic steam powered freight train through northern Australia’s early history. Herbert sees the central issue of Australia being race, and particularly the “half-caste” offspring of aboriginals and white immigrants.

This is a wonderful epic set in a corner of the globe that even Aussies don’t visit that often.  And yes, there are steam locomotives in the tale.…

Cosmicomics

July 16th, 2010
Cosmicomics

by Italo Calvino

This might be the ultimate read-aloud book to share with a sweetheart or your kids. It is equally interesting and amusing for grown ups and kids, as it mixes cosmology and Italian folk wisdom in ludicrous tales.