Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is Peter Garret's comments about 'Cloudscape' on the First Tuesday bookshow. Look, it stacks up fantastically, Jennifer, and when you asked me which book I wanted to recommend, I recommended this one because when I first read it, I loved it. I thought I'd read a great Australian novel. And I like Tim Winton's writing a lot. But coming back to it the second time has been an extraordinary journey. It's better than I imagined and there's much more in it than I imagined. I think it's a true classic. And to be honest, it's great literature which is very readable, and it touches chords deep inside all of us, I suspect, and difficult to find the words, really. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience sitting around in a week or two in January and getting into it again.

The publisher of 'Billy Bathgate' wrote this. 'In 1930's New York, Billy Bathgate, a fifteen-year-old high-school dropout, has captured the attention of infamous gangster Dutch Schultz, who lures the boy into his world of racketeering. The product of an East Bronx upbringing by his half-crazy Irish Catholic mother, after his Jewish father left them long ago, Billy is captivated by the world of money, sex, and high society the charismatic Schultz has to offer. But it is also a world of extortion, brutality, and murder, where Billy finds himself involved in a dangerous affair with Schultz's girlfriend. Relive this story through the title character's driving narrative, a child's thoughts and feelings filtered through the sensibilities of an adult, and the result is E.L. Doctorow's most convincing and appealing portrayal of a young boy's life. Converging mythology and history, one of America's most admired authors has captured the romance of gangsters and criminal enterprise that continues to fascinate the American psyche today.'
One reviewer said "[M]esmerizing reading that soars from the shocking first scene...through episodes of horror, hilarity and sudden, deepening insights." Publishers Weekly

Monday, October 10, 2011

According to one reviewer 'Wild Swans' is
'Bursting with drama, heartbreak and horror, this extraordinary family portrait mirrors China's century of turbulence. Chang's grandmother, Yu-fang, had her feet bound at age two and in 1924 was sold as a concubine to Beijing's police chief. Yu-fang escaped slavery in a brothel by fleeing her "husband" with her infant daughter, Bao Qin, Chang's mother-to-be. Growing up during Japan's brutal occupation, free-spirited Bao Qin chose the man she would marry, a Communist Party official slavishly devoted to the revolution. In 1949, while he drove 1000 miles in a jeep to the southwestern province where they would do Mao's spadework, Bao Qin walked alongside the vehicle, sick and pregnant (she lost the child). Chang, born in 1952, saw her mother put into a detention camp in the Cultural Revolution and later "rehabilitated." Her father was denounced and publicly humiliated; his mind snapped, and he died a broken man in 1975. Working as a "barefoot doctor" with no training, Chang saw the oppressive, inhuman side of communism. She left China in 1978 and is now director of Chinese studies at London University. Her meticulous, transparent prose radiates an inner strength.'

This is one reviewer's take on 'life of Pi'.
What is there to say about a novel in which a young boy shares a lifeboat with a fully grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker? If the book is Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, there’s quite a lot to be said. This is definitely one of the most unusual novels of the year (if not the most), yet the story it tells is so profound and moving that the more enlightened readers will get behind its many oddities to the message at its core.

Life of Pi is a simply extraordinary book that actually has something to say about life, yet it’s not preachy or overbearing. It’s just a strange, fascinating and remarkable tale that may even, as its prologue predicts, make you believe in God.