Author Topic: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?  (Read 19584 times)

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #60 on: August 09, 2020, 07:11:17 PM »
Guy at work lent me a couple of scifi books (the other's Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice), I lent him Neal Stevenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age in return.

I only started it today and am a couple of chapters in. Not really got going yet but it's easy to read and quite sardonic.

Just finished this, enjoyed it, although big space battles isn't the usual form of Scifi I really like, I'll seek out the rest of these. It says it owes a lot to Heinlein, I've only read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which I enjoyed but I think a lot of his stuff might be a bit too right-wing for me.

Sebastian Cobb

  • bad opinion haver
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #61 on: August 11, 2020, 04:50:22 PM »
On Ancillary Justice now. The prose is far less charming and as such harder to engage with. Story seems alright so far.

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #62 on: August 11, 2020, 08:31:37 PM »
Finally got round to reading Normal People - the thing I really like about it , the thing that made it linger in my head for a while after I'd read it is... I really don't like Marianne. It's clever the way it sets up your expectations, that you're supposed to be rooting for her on some level, and it's only about a week after you've finished it that you thing, God, she really is a pain in the neck, isn't she?

Captain Crunch

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #63 on: August 16, 2020, 06:11:18 PM »
I’m in four bookclubs now and I’ve had a little run of dross:

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2019)
Pretending by Holly Bourne (2020)
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (2019)

All rubbish.  Regardless of content they all have this really flimsy flat writing style, “and then what happened was..” no pretty turn of phrase, no attempt to craft the language, no vivid passages at all.  I’m hoping it’s just a run of bad luck but considering the gushing reviews some of these books get you’d be forgiven for despairing at the state of modern popular fiction. 


Captain Crunch

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #64 on: August 23, 2020, 10:07:05 AM »
Not sure if it’s new enough but What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn (2008) has cheered me up enormously.  It’s warm, well crafted, no fluff or padding, I’d recommend it.  It’s so refreshing to read something modern that has proper humour (for example, a parent at an exclusive school loudly kicks up a fuss about his surname being spelt wrong “it’s O’Nions not ONIONS!”).  Best of all it features a really engaging and funny child character, I’m struggling to think of any writer who has portrayed a child even half as well. 

Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #65 on: January 08, 2021, 11:18:05 PM »
I read a pretty trashy book over the holidays, The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton. Is was quite good fun but utterly ludicrous at the same time. A Sherlock Holmes type is bundled on to a merchant ship in the 1600s just as a leper bursts in to flames and a spooky insignia mysteriously appears on one of the ship's sails. Entertaining bilge.

Then I read Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. This was pretty good - been a long time since I've read such an exciting book - although put me in mind of a 3 part ITV thriller a little too much. There's a fancy private but very liberal school in south England (Sussex?) and the book starts with the headmaster getting shot. Shortly after, a bomb goes off in the school grounds. There were some quite eggy bits but there were also parts where I thought the author was ace. It's hard to say which bits I mean without spoiling but if you dislike The Express and Katy Hopkins, you'll enjoy it.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #66 on: January 10, 2021, 12:01:33 AM »
Nearly finished with the audiobook of Liam Williams' Homes and Experiences. I've really enjoyed it. As with everything Williams does, it's chimed with me

It's about Mark, a London copywriter who is offered the opportunity to travel Europe for his AirBnB-esque employer, staying in various properties and engaging in various cultural activities so he can spin out a positive-but-bland travel blog for PR. He intends to take his cool, well-travelled cousin along, but an off-screen argument at the novel's beginning shatters their relationship, and he sets off alone. The novel takes the form of e-mails he sends to his cousin narrating the trip, in a guilty and desperate attempt to mend things.

I thought it was a lovely spin on something that's a worn genre, in fiction and non-fiction. Wandering through these cities, whose histories and cultures have been pretty definitively explored by artists and authors already, Mark finds himself having a shit and lonely time. The whole idea of feeling like an outsider twat in somewhere important and transcendental felt really relatable and fresh to me - seeing the teeming life of these cultural hotspots, standing right next to it, but having no idea how to bridge the gap and become part of it yourself. Feeling like everyone else in the world is able to have a smooth, polished experience, while you're the only one fucking up, clumsily stumbling around. Unable to have any significant social interaction, while assuming (I really loved this observation) that everybody else you can see knows each other and that they're all great friends.

As I said, it makes for a lovely perspective on a number of European cities, places whose great features have already been thoroughly explored elsewhere. He cuts through the shimmering, beauteous image of these places, the obsession with an idealised 'authenticity', where the residents are all otherworldly characters who represent their country's spirit, and impart cultural wisdom. They're all just people, who can be tired, or arsey, or awkward, or lovely.

Again, as with everything he does, it's put together with a brilliant and incisive eye for modern culture, and the horrible awkwardness of living inside your own head, being too self-conscious and self-aware for your own good. Wanting to travel but not wanting to be seen as a tourist - but also not like you think you're too good to be seen as a tourist. Every bloody thing Liam Williams writes, I go 'oh, that's me. You've written me down. I fucking hate me.' And every time, I love it.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 12:13:08 AM by BritishHobo »

samadriel

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #67 on: January 11, 2021, 12:34:50 PM »
Edit bug

Retinend

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Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #68 on: January 14, 2021, 08:26:20 AM »
Thanks for the recommendation! I really liked Pls Like and I related to Williams and his sense of humour - now even moreso since reading your review. The quote on the book says "voice of his generation" and that cliche might even be justified.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #69 on: January 23, 2021, 09:33:39 PM »
No worries! I'd definitely recommend getting the audiobook- as always, there's so much in Liam's delivery.

buttgammon

  • Magnums (Magna)
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #70 on: January 24, 2021, 10:08:19 AM »
Just read Transcendent Kingdom, the new Yaa Gyasi. It's not as good as Homegoing but nevertheless, still a good book that does a pretty good job of avoiding the problem of the disappointing second novel. She doesn't try to reproduce the breadth of her debut but instead, goes for something much smaller and more introspective here, which works. It's mainly about the effect of addiction and loss on the protagonist and her mother, but there's a real close focus on the inner world that's an interesting development from the sort of intricate social and historical narrative she wove before. It's worth a go, but I'd still sooner recommend Homegoing to people who haven't read it.

mothman

  • I don't know why
Re: What new(ish) fiction are you reading?
« Reply #71 on: March 10, 2021, 11:34:49 PM »
My wife decided I was a Christmas present short. So she bought me a book.

Richard Osman’s debut novel.

Christ. I mean, where to even begin? I can’t even fathom the thought process that went into that decision. I don’t read celebrity books. I don’t read BOOKS. I have a Kindle. So what made her think I’d like a hardcover first edition of a rather twee tale of murder in a retirement community? I read it, because I felt I had to. And I resent that.

The book itself? Oh, I don’t know, I guess it’s a clever little plot - probably TOO clever - and actually quite dark towards the end. Too many characters though, and all of them quite basic.

Worse, though, it’s a really cheap printing, all the pages have fallen out. Which just makes me want to use the opportunity to burn the darn thing.

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