Tag Archives: No Good Brother

Paperbacks to Look Out for in January 2019: Part Two

Cover imageThis second instalment of January’s paperbacks is something of a mixed bag. I’ll begin with Swansong by Kerry Andrew, described by Robert Macfarlane as a writer of ‘frankly alarming talent’. Make of that what you will. Polly Vaughan heads for the Scottish Highlands, fleeing the guilt of a ‘disturbing incident’ in London. She finds escapism in the form of drink, drugs and sex in the local pub but is haunted by visions then fascinated by a man she comes upon in the forest seemingly ripping apart a bird. Andrew ‘comes from a deep understanding of the folk songs, mythologies and oral traditions of these islands. Her powerful metaphoric language gives Swansong a charged, hallucinatory quality that is unique, uncanny and deeply disquieting’ say the publishers, promisingly.

Many of the characters in Mothers, Chris Powers’ short story collection, also find themselves at a crossroads according to the publisher’s blurb. ‘From remote and wild Exmoor to ancient Swedish burial sites and hedonistic Mexican weddings, these stories lay bare the emotional and psychic damage of life and love in a stunning debut collection’ apparently. This one has been popping up in my Twitter timeline intermittently for some time, not always a good thing, but I like the sound of stories which range so far and wide.Cover image

The loss of her mother triggers a crisis in Lucia’s mental health in Mira T. Lee’s Everything Here is Beautiful. Miranda drops everything and comes to her younger sister’s aid but it appears that Lucia may not want to be helped. ‘Told in alternating points of view, Everything Here Is Beautiful is the story of a young woman’s quest to find fulfilment and a life unconstrained by illness’ say the publishers. This sounds like an attractive structure to me, contrasting two very different perspectives.

Stefan Merrill Block’s Oliver Loving explores the aftermath of a high school shooting through the plight of the eponymous Oliver and his family. Ten years after he fell victim to a troubled young man at a high school dance, Oliver remains in a coma while his family try to cope and his teenage crush attempts to put it behind her. ‘Oliver Loving is a brilliant and beautifully told story of family, as heart-breaking as it is profound. It is a novel of the myths we make; the ties that bind us and the forces that keep us apart’ say the publishers which sounds a little overblown but I enjoyed Block’s The Storm at the Door and it’s an interesting premise.

Cover imageI’m rounding off this preview with Tyler Keevil’s No Good Brother which sounds like a nice slice of adventure. Two brothers – one honest, the other not – set off on a journey to settle a debt with a notorious gang which will take them across land and sea dogged by customs officials, freak storms and a distinct sense of luck running out. ‘Quick-witted and beautifully observed, No Good Brother is an exquisite portrait of brotherly love and loyalty, examining the loss of innocence and the ties that bind us’ say the publishers. An uncharacteristic choice for me but the blurb’s put me in mind of Patrick deWitt’s wonderful The Sisters Brothers.

That’s it for January. A click on any title that takes your fancy will take you to a more detailed synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with the rest of January previews they’re here, here and here.

To those of you looking forward to Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time. If, as it is for many, it’s a more complicated time of the year for you, I hope it passes as painlessly as possible. And for those of you in retail or catering who’ve been working your socks off – I hope you get some rest before you start all over again. I’ll be back at the end of the week.

Books to Look Out for in February 2018: Part Two

Cover imageThe second batch of February’s new titles is something of a mixed bag. I’ll begin with Tyler Keevil’s No Good Brother which sounds like a slice of adventure. Two brothers – one honest, the other not – set off on a journey to settle a debt with a notorious gang which will take them across land and sea dogged by customs officials, freak storms and a distinct sense of luck running out. ‘Quick-witted and beautifully observed, No Good Brother is an exquisite portrait of brotherly love and loyalty, examining the loss of innocence and the ties that bind us’ say the publishers. An uncharacteristic choice for me but the blurb’s put me in mind of Patrick deWitt’s wonderful The Sisters Brothers.

Joseph Cassara’s The House of Impossible Beauties sounds altogether different. Set in New York City from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s with AIDS on the horizon, the novel was inspired by the House of Xtravaganza and follows a group of gay and transgender young adults around the drag ball scene. Apparently, it was inspired by the documentary ‘Paris is Burning’ which I haven’t seen but the book sounds right up my alley.

I’m not so sure about Jessie Greengrass’ Sight but her short story collection, An Account of the Cover imageDecline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, was so highly rated that it seems worth investigating. It follows a woman through her preparations for motherhood as she remembers the death of her own mother and the time she spent with her psychoanalyst grandmother. Significant medical discoveries are woven through her memories, apparently. ‘Wonderfully intelligent, brilliantly written and deeply moving, Sight is a novel about how we see others, and how we might know ourselves’ say the publishers.

This next one comes garlanded with praise from Margaret Atwood, no less. Katherena Vermette’s The Break tackles the tricky subject of female violence. A young mother living close by the eponymous strip of land on the edge of a Canadian town spots a girl in trouble and calls the police but when they turn up, they can find nothing. Their investigation reveals a string of wrenching stories about the people surrounding the girl. ‘Through the prism of one extended, intergenerational family, Vermette’s urgent story shines a light on the power, violence and love shared between women of all cultures, creeds and age’ say the publishers Cover imagewhich sounds very ambitious but Naomi over at Consumed by Ink, whose opinion I trust, was hugely impressed as you can see from this review.

I’m ending February’s new titles on a gentler note with an author whose previous work I’ve enjoyed very much. Judith Hermann’s Letti Park is a collection which explore the way in which random encounters with strangers can change our lives profoundly. Both Hermann’s novel Where Love Begins and Alice, her set of interlinked short stories, are fine examples of subtle, quietly effective writing so hopes are high.

That’s it for February. A click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis, and if you’d like to catch up with the first part of the preview it’s here. Paperbacks to follow soon…