In this world of e-books and e-readers bookshops have become endangered species across the world. Many have already been forced to close but others are taking the battle back to the buying public with events like National Bookshop Day being celebrated right across Australia this Saturday. Many bookshops have planned…
Women have dominated the Booker Prize long list taking out seven of the 13 slots. In an eclectic selection said by the judges to be the most diverse ever there was only a smattering of well-known authors. There was a fair international spread with four British authors, three Irish and representatives from Malaysia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, India and Canada. The full long list is:
So J.K. Rowling wrote a crime book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It got some quite good reviews and sold a modest amount. Then someone ‘’outed’’ her as the author and, good heavens, interest in the book took off. By some extraordinary coincidence, a huge second run…
A floor above one of my favourite Sydney sushi restaurants is the Kinokuniya bookstore which takes out virtually the whole of the top level of the building. Like others in the 80-strong international chain, it is bright, airy and absolutely vast. As well as acres of novels and sumptuous coffee table…
A confession. I was prepared to dismiss, sight unseen, Tom Cruise as the celluloid Jack Reacher and had loudly lamented the casting to friends. It’s not that I particularly dislike Tom Cruise, it’s just that he always plays, well, Tom Cruise. The persona he has given himself as a superstar actor always outplays the character. So, to cast him as Jack Reacher, the peripatetic hero of Lee Child’s bestselling series, seemed cruel and unusual punishment to many of his fans.
No doubt, a multitude of others won’t give a hoot. The movie Jack Reacher, based on Child’s ninth novel, One Shot released in 2005, is a classic shoot-em-up thriller that fans of the Mission Impossible franchise will no doubt love.
Reacher, is a retired US military policeman who operates “off the map”. He has no fixed address, no phone, no car (although he is adept at “borrowing” other people’s), no luggage and no visible means of support. When he needs new clothes he buys them in low budget stores although in the movie that means a well-fitting, trendy jacket that even the elderly check-out-chicken admires with a twinkly smile.
Astray is a collection of 14 stories by Emma Donoghue the Irish-born author and historian who is probably most famous for her internationally-acclaimed novel, The Room, which unfolds through the voice of a five-year-old boy whose only world has been the room where he and his mother are kept prisoner.
The Room was inspired by the case of the Austrian Joseph Fritzel who fathered seven children from his own daughter, and Donoghue has also utilised what she called “hybrid faction” in other successful work including The Sealed Letter.
Astray is inspired by, and loosely based on, archival records of real events and people, dating back to the early 1660s, although the intimate detail that makes this such a rich collection is Donaghue’s. She provides the voice behind the yellowing newspaper cutting or entry in a dusty register of births and deaths.
As seems to be the increasingcustom at this time of year I have listed below my top ten books for 2012. There is no method in the madness and they are not in any particuar order. They are simply the books which I enjoyed reading, would happily return to read them again and, perhaps most important of all, would not hesitate to recommend to my friends. The cut off date for 2012 was Christmas Day. Why is this important? Because over the past few days I have read two outstanding books. But more of them later.
All is not as it seems in this carefully layered garden set in Malaya just before the invasion by the Japanese. Not for the characters nor the reader. It is poetic and thrilling; a story that continues to haunt you long after the final page is turned.
Bring Up The Bones by Hilary Mantel.
The sequel to the highly successful Wolf Hall, this is a lavish re-take of the ill-fated marriage between Henry VII and Anne Boleyn as seen through the fox-like eyes of Oliver Cromwell.
The Yellow Bird by Kevin Powers
Debut novel from a returned US serviceman attempting to answer the repeated question : What was it like fighting in Iraq? It has been criticised for being over-lyrical (perhaps a result of Powers’ first love, poetry) but I have returned to this book a couple of times after first reading it, and it retains its initial impact.