Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Books for booklovers - Quick flips - Brief bits - recently read

Please don't come back from the moon by Dean Bakopoulos - Black Swan - Paper

Michael Smolij is 17 years old and living in Maple Rock, a working class suburb of Detroit when his father and many of friend's fathers "go to the moon".
One by one they simply disappear into the night leaving families and friends behind.
A remarkable first novel, the author is a former bookseller.I found it utterly compelling, and was captivated from the opening line.

The friend who put me on to this novel said it had been recommended to her by Carl Nixon, himself a fine writer, and commented to me that days after she finished it "it is still echoing in my head". I know what she means.
She also said that if you enjoy a writer like Richard Ford,(he has a new title out too), then this will appeal.

Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey - Ebury Press - Paper

Sub-titled A Memoir of Childhood in India it is just that but of course this is no ordinary person's memoir. Madhur Jaffrey has had a stellar career in the film industry, has been a tv presenter and writer as well as being one of the world's best known chefs and food presenters.Now out in paperback this is the story of what made her who she is today.Descriptions usually reserved for food can be applied to her story - appertising, tasty, delicious.
Lots of photos, and at the back family recipes.

the book thief by Markus Zusak Picador $40

Janet Maslin writing in the New York Times back in March this year said "Zusak has not really written Harry Potter and the Holocaust it just feels that way".
Set during WW2 in Germany this is the story of Liesel Meminger who survives by stealing books.With the hellp of her accordion-playing foster father she learns to read and shares the stolen books with her neighbours and with the Jewish man hidden in their basement.
This is a very unusual book,initially it takes quite a lot of getting into but persevere because the effort is worth while.One friend told me it was perhaps the best book she had ever read, another said it was his best read this year.High praise.
By the way, the book is a whopper,door stopper material, and depending on how much time you have may take a week or two to complete.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai Hamish Hamilton (UK) Grove Press (US)

Since winning The Man Booker Prize last month this novel has received so much review attention and widespread praise that I am not going to say much more than I believe it is a truly worthy winner; it is only her second novel,(the first was Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard), and I rate Desai as a worthy addition to the already long line of wonderful contemporary Indian writers.Substantial, both in size and content, but briskly paced this is a MUST read.
The Man Booker Prize has an informative website which is worth a visit:

Italian Joy by Carla Coulson Lantern/Penguin $55.00 Hardback

Generous friends gave me this book for my birthday earlier this year before we headed off to Arezzo in Tuscany to attend the 50th birthday of a London-based kiwi friend.This is a lushly illustrated book that describes the adventures of a young Australian woman who left her comfortable life in Sydney and headed for Italy. It is full of laughter, warmth and passion and I guarantee reading it will make you want to pack up and follow Coulson's lead.Escapism

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