November: On the Pile

 

Name: Lucille Turner
Just Finished: Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond – highly recommended for those interested in the big questions of history and science.
On The Go: Unbound, by Christopher Osborn – enjoying this so far, liking the scientific edge.
Next Up: Bleak House, by Charles Dickens because I feel like re-reading old classics. Or perhaps it’s the time of year?

Name: James Doyle
Just Finished: Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicles of Barset, the political struggles of Victorian clergyman. The self-deceptions of their characters is brilliantly caught but, at its heart, this is a wonderful portrayal of marriage.
On The Go: The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. From alcoholism in Hackney to birdwatching in Orkney, a moving and gripping account of building a new life out of building a new identity.
Next Up: Orley Farm, another Anthony Trollope. A law case for the ownership of a farm. Trollope’s novels always feel more contemporary than you would think.

Name: Dan Carpenter
Just Finished: The Power by Naomi Alderman. As good as everyone has been saying, The Power is definitely a novel of the moment, about a world in which the balance of power tips from male to female. Alderman’s grasp of how this world would change encompasses large scale regime shifts, all the way down to tiny details of language. It’s clever, and at times quite witty, and retains a pulpy charm. In short: terrific.
On The Go: Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume Four by various. The annual arrival of Undertow Press’ Year’s Best Weird Fiction anthologies is something to look forward to. Series editor Michael Kelly has made the smart decision of handing the editing duties of each year’s iteration over to a different author, meaning that the tone and content is always shifting. This year, it’s Helen Marshall, and her selection is absolutely wonderful. A diverse, eerie selection.
Next Up: Strange Weather by Joe Hill. Last year’s The Fireman was Joe Hill’s best, combining elements of his father’s own apocalyptic novel The Stand with urgent social commentary on social media. Strange Weather gathers together four novellas, each themed around odd meteorological occurrences.  [Ed: we’re time-travelling here; Dan’s review is already live!]

Name: Jackie Law
Just Finished: UnAmerican Activities by James Miller. A collection of interlinked short stories set in contemporary America. Given the subject matter – drug users and porn stars, college kids and religious fanatics, vampires and republicans – this was unexpectedly enjoyable. A subversive, deliciously indecorous, gratifying read.
On The Go: Levitation by Sean O’Reilly – another short story collection, this time with a distinctly Irish voice. Also Compass by Mathias Enard – haven’t managed to get far with this yet as finding it a bit dense.
Next Up: Warewolff! by Gary J Shipley and Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester.

Name: Joe Phelan
Just Finished: Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti – Weird Fiction at its finest.
On The Go: Levitation by Sean O’Reilly – a collection of short stories based in barber shops in Dublin and Derry.
Next Up: The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker –  an unusual novel detailing loss and loneliness.

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Finished: Haruki Murakami, South of the border, West of the Sun. A middle aged family man bumps into a childhood friend. More Norwegian Wood than Wind-up Bird, and although I prefer the weirder ones it was still worth reading.
On The Go: Zadie Smith, Swing Time. Agree with pretty much everything in the review.
Next Up: Joshua Ferris, Then We Came To The End. An office based comedy. Curious to find out how that works.

Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Finished: The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro. Meh. I liked it well enough, but I’m not sure I’d ever return to it. The review here is spot on.
On The Go: The Passage by Justin Cronin – rereading this one before I finally read the other two in the trilogy. A cracking tale of vampires and the end of the world, and beautifully written, too.
Next Up: Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward. I should be reading this right now, but, you know, massive vampire novels call to me in the winter nights.

Name: Peter Wild
Just Finished: The Force by Don Winslow. Got this in hardback and meant to review but rather missed the boat so will post a review in time for the paperback next February. It’s probably very authentic but it was a bit over the top for me.
On The Go: Another one I meant to review in hardback that will get the paperback treatment: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. So far so intriguing. I’m also reading Bernard Sumner’s Chapter and Verse which I’m liking more than I thought I would (and I thought I would like it, so read into that what you will).
Next Up: The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins. Continuing a theme: meant to read earlier this year, will review in time for the paperback next year…

 

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