Posted in Book review, Booker prize 2011, books, Uncategorized

Janet Mock Realising Realnes

 

redefining-realness-janet-mock-memoir-available-formats 

A young boy is born to a poor disjointed, displaced black American family. Charles/Janet was moved around, living with different family members at different times of their lives. Janet outlines; their childhood, the abuse that they suffered at the hands of a trusted adult, and the effects of feeling alienated from their own body; its bodily gender and the roles that society ascribes to that male body.  The book explores the effects of several interconnecting, socially defined, identities on a young body.  Mock explores the intersecting effects of; racism, poverty, family breakup/abuse, rigidly prescribed gender norms, and a disconnection between biological and actual gender identity on a person’s body and their understanding of that body. This book explores the life of a troubled child through the mature, experienced eyes of a woman, containing both; the pained innocence of childhood, and the critical understanding of an adult; with neither lens diluting the power of the other.  The childhood trauma/pain is tempered by an adult understanding; without ever being diminished by it.   Even in it’s painful moments, this book is infused with a sort of warmth.  Well worth a read.

 

 

 

 

Posted in arc, Ausralian women writers challenge 2013, Uncategorized

between a wolf and a dog

Between a Wolf and a9781925321111 Dog

Georgia Blain

I am on Scribe’s mailing list.  The book’s intriguing cover made me want to read it. So, I requested a copy from the publisher.  Scribe UK sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review. This book centres on the life of an extended family. It explores the secrets that one family can contain and the tragedies that occur when those secrets come to the surface.  Through the life of the family matriarch Hilary, the writer explores experiences of loss and  the  consequences of  living through the pain that old age can bring,  exploring the themes of loss, aging and pain.   Her daughter’s, April and Ester, lives allow us to explore the consequences of deception on their sibling relationship and their relationships with the other people within their lives.   Through other characters we see the consequences of white collar crime and distortion.   This book explores the lives of middle class people living lives of quiet desperation and hope.

 

The characters are well drawn and believable.   They live in a thoroughly realistic and credible world.  It is easy to emphasise with their small dramas.   The writing is lyrical.  The descriptions of the terrible weather that the characters are enduring are evocative.   This is an engrossing read which will be the perfect companion on a cold autumnal afternoon by the fire.

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

solar bones

Solar Bones

Mike McCormacksolar-bones-cropped-cover

Tramp Press

 

The book opens abstractly with a lyrical passage, set out like a poem, describing the location in which the main character lives.  The book opens with a wide camera shot of rural landscape and rural community, doing its thing on an afternoon.  The camera is sent spiralling through this setting, settling for a moment to observe, to focus, before spinning out into a wider focus and moving on to observe another aspect of this world; spinning, spiralling, contracting and expanding until it seemingly comes to rest in a kitchen with our main protagonist, seemingly narrowing it’s focus on his life.  In fact, the camera keeps contracting and expanding its focus; an observation on his own life, leading to an observation concerning the life of his family, before widening focus to explore the world.  Or, on the other hand, beginning with a wide focus lens, our character comments on a thing that has happened in the world before turning the lens back on his own life, his inner thoughts and the life of his family.  The camera continually narrowing and widening its focus, showing connections between the experiences of the humanist individual subject and the wider society.  This means that the book gives the reader a clear picture of both the internal and external world of the 1990s/2000s. This book presents the connection between the inner psychological lives and external social worlds, showing the web of interconnections that connect us to each other and the wider world.  I highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in award lists, Book review, books, Uncategorized

It was OK

Dark side war by Zachery Brownthe-darkside-war-9781481430357_lg

 

So, I promised you a review of this book and here it is.   First, a caveat, I read this book as part of my awards read.   The good thing about this reading method is that you occasionally find books that really surprise you, surpassing your expectations.  The down side is, that you are just as likely to come across books that simply weren’t written for you.  Books that are written in a writing style/voice that leaves you cold or a genre that you just don’t get on with.   This book falls into the latter camp.   If you like what I call ‘mainstream genre” fiction you will like this book.  But, I prefer books that have a more experimental structure and/or lyrical language style.   So, this book is not for me.

Synopsis

 

“Aliens have conquered Earth, but they haven’t conquered humanity—yet. A young army conscript battles for survival in this action-packed futuristic thriller that will appeal to fans of Halo and Inglorious Bastards.

People used to wonder if we were alone in the universe. Well, we’re not. Not by a long shot. Aliens come in all shapes and sizes, and even the good guys are likely to haunt your nightmares. And oh, you’ll have nightmares, even after you leave the service. If you leave the service.

Devin is a reluctant conscript to an alien-run army: when the Accordance conquered Earth, they said it was to prepare against the incoming alien Conglomeration forces. But as Devin travels to the dark side of the moon for boot camp and better acquaints himself with his so-called allies, his loyalties are increasingly tested. Because the enemy of the enemy is not always a friend. Sometimes…” http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/books/The-Darkside-War/Zachary-Brown/The-Icarus-Corps/9781481430357

 

Sample Quotes

“I stood at attention. My boots dug into the sad, scraggly patch of open field that was all that remained of what had once been called Central Park, and I remembered standing in the middle of a baseball field here, once. A long time ago.”  Page  1.

 

This book had a diverse range of characters.   The characters represented different ethnic groups.  There were interesting girl/women characters.  The characters had different levels of power/privilege.   They came from different political perspectives and had very different views on how to deal with their alien conquerors.

 

To me, this novel felt disjointed.   It felt like it was divided into 3 distinct sections; each of which opened questions that weren’t satisfactory answered.    The first section, a rebellion narrative, was an interesting look at how earthlings would deal with an alien invasion, asking how many would rebel and who would acquiesce; for what reasons? It would have been interesting to explore these sections further.  But, then we and Devin are whizzed into space and intro the second section of the novel which is set in a kind of boot camp; where earthlings are tested, trained and killed by their alien overlords.  This could have been an interesting look at conquest and how people can fight for their overlords.  It could have been an interesting look at the differing earthlings and how they survive this environment and the social conditions that they found there.  To a limited extent it was. But, that was short.  Since, then we were catapulted into section three and into a tradition alien shoot out; which, I found really boring.

 

As you see from the quote at the beginning of this review, the writing was workaday/mainstream.  Which, while did work as first person narration from a teenage boy and made the work easy to scan, made the text feel boring to a reader who prefers a more lyrical/ experimental form of prose.   To me the professionalism of the writing wasn’t exciting and didn’t feel like the speech of a young boy under stress. Surely, Devin’s speech would have been more fragmented, and less structured.  So, if you like YA type books with fairly diverse characters, set in a dark space landscape, then this book is for you.  But, this book was not for me.