On the Pile: March 2020

Name: Valerie O’Riordan
Just Read: Memento Mori, Muriel Spark. A community of elderly people consider their mortality in typically acerbic Spark style.
On the Go: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, because one of my students is obsessed and now I’m curious, and also The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham, but I’ve lost that one somewhere in the Covid-chaos of my house. I’ll find you, Maugham.
Next Up: Gearing up for Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light. Can. Not. Wait.

Name: Chris Oleson
Just Read: Finished: Anita Brookner’s Look at Me, a painfully sad, voyeuristic look at a woman’s life and Dirck van Sickle’s Montana Gothic, a legitimate cult novel that is dark, funny, and odd.
On the Go: Laurie Notaro’s I Love Everybody: acerbic comic pieces from a narcissist who struggles to get out of her own way. Ideal fodder for a pandemic. Also Denton Welch’s A Voice Through a Cloud, about a young man recovering from a horrific accident.
Next Up: Henri Bosco’s Malicroix, a French author whom I had never heard of until offered a chance to review it for Bookmunch.

Name: Pete Wild
Just Read: Black River by Will Dean. Not fun.
On The Go: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Tremendous so far.
Next Up: one I missed in hardback: Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Name: Jackie Law
Just ReadOnce upon a time in Chinatown by Robert Ronsson. An engaging and not too demanding story inspired by a film (Chinatown) that I haven’t seen. The writing has a noir quality and beat, featuring a narrator who can never quite be trusted. Dragged a little in places but still decent and welcome escapism.
On the Go: Still trying to get through The Idea of the Brain by Matthew Cobb which is proving more dense than my head can currently cope with. To offset this have just started The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey which opens with an intriguing premise.
Next Up: Never Seen the Sea by Holly Watson and Bad Boy Poet by Scott Manley Hadley. These are: the final novelette in the first series from Open Pen, and a similarly sized poetry collection they put out in the same time period. I’ve been so impressed with these subversive little books am tempted to preorder the entire second series despite knowing nothing about who will be selected to write them.

Name: Carola Huttmann
Just Read: The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson is set in the Scottish Highlands and is the author’s second novel. Review coming soon …..
On the Go: Summerwater by Sarah Moss. Very different from Moss’ previous books, it’s set on the longest day of the summer when twelve people are cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish holiday park. In chapters of stream-of-conciousness writing each character ponders their circumstances before a tragedy unravels.
Next Up: Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963) is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years and never got around to until now …..

Name: James Doyle
Just Read: Mary Costello’s The River Capture. Luke O’Brien has left the world,  retreating into solitude in his family home and his thoughts of James Joyce. He discovers that fiction has a purpose, it opens up life (even that outside the mind) through “all the minute, parallel lives this house accommodates.”
On the Go: Toby Faber’s Faber & Faber is a history of the family publishing company through internal letters, memos and minutes of meetings. It’s fascinating to see Faber grow,  from £16,000 turnover in 1926 to its current roll call of Nobel laureates, and to witness its survival through the income from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.
Next Up: If only Northern Ireland’s football team had the strength in depth of its crime writers. Stuart Neville is one of its stars, his The Twelve is a masterpiece. So Say The Fallen takes his regular detective into an investigation of a seeming suicide.

Name: Lucy Chatburn
Just Read: Guy Gunaratne – In our Mad and Furious City. La Haine as a London-based novel. Loved the concept, even if I struggled a bit with the reality.
On the Go: Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall. I haven’t read this before because historical fiction isn’t my thing, but one chapter in I’m completely hooked. Hurrah for trilogies.
Next Up: I’m on the version of lockdown where you don’t get extra reading time, and by the time I’ve got through 650 pages of Wolf Hall who knows what will be the state of things. Not making any plans.

Name: Amy Riddell
Just Read: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, which I’ve just finished reviewing for my blog. Strong characters and a stomach-dropping premise make up for a shoehorned romance and a few quibbles with the protagonist.
On the Go: English Monsters by James Scudamore. I’m very close to finishing this, and have to admit that I am slightly disappointed that this isn’t the abusive English boarding school masterstroke which I hoped it would be.
Next Up: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves, an ARC I nabbed a few months ago but still haven’t managed to finish.



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