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Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
04 Feb 2012, 11:57 AM | Post: #21

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

I'm glad the week's over. The Trestle issues have been very draining and have led to lots of thought about which invitation to take up for the re-publishing of Smoke. It would seem that those dark clouds have a silver lining and I'll pass on news at a more appropriate time.

Later this weekend I'll be reviewing Hypothermia, a very engaging novel from Iceland - appropriate given the weather.

Smile
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nigel

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Offline Stu Ayris Reading All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
04 Feb 2012, 12:06 PM | Post: #22

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

(04 Feb 2012 11:57 AM)nigel p bird Wrote:  I'm glad the week's over. The Trestle issues have been very draining and have led to lots of thought about which invitation to take up for the re-publishing of Smoke. It would seem that those dark clouds have a silver lining and I'll pass on news at a more appropriate time.

Later this weekend I'll be reviewing Hypothermia, a very engaging novel from Iceland - appropriate given the weather.

Smile

Sounds like the Trestle abdication was a good move for a lot of people - a fantastic show of integrity by a fine group of authors. I'm so pleased Smoke is going to find a home! Top man! Thumbs Up
Offline nigel p bird Reading
05 Feb 2012, 06:00 PM | Post: #23

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

I have a really pleasing interview with Les Edgerton today at http://nigelpbird.blogspot.com...

Been trying to hook the guy for an age.
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nigel

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
05 Feb 2012, 06:03 PM | Post: #24

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

And thanks, Stu.

The irony for some of us is that we're moving on to bigger and better.

I'll be glad to get it done with in the end.

Just a little point for a few who have commented on Trestle, I was paid today for the sales that were made and had a well put together spreadsheet to go along with it; I hope that eases the minds of some of the other authors and hope theirs has also come through, even though it isn't about the money in so many ways.

Smile
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nigel

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
08 Feb 2012, 10:09 AM | Post: #25

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

[hypothermia by arnaldur indridason=]

'Hypothermia' is well named. There’s something chilling about the investigations of Detective Erlendur that runs from the first page right through to the end.

This book was my introduction to Erlendur, and I found him to be rather engaging. To try and post reference points to the uninitiated, I feel that he combines elements of Maigret and Columbo; the thoughtful country-boy working tirelessly and skilfully in the big city combined with a terrier-like erosion of the people involved. Throw in the rational, obsessive mind with cold blood passing through the veins and you have a fictional detective of a very high calibre to enjoy.

Here's one of the skills he's learned over the years:

'The rule was always to accept coffee if it was offered...'

It's a tip he passes on to the younger detectives, a small measure as to their capacity to do the job:

'...Elinburg had been quick to learn this. Sigurdur Oli still hadn't grasped the concept.'

It's the kind of subtlety that helps to make a book worth reading.

'Hypothermia' opens with a suicide. It’s an open-and-shut conclusion as far as the police are concerned, yet Erlendur is uneasy with the case. He wants to know why the tragedy happened, needs to explore the story behind the death.

As he does unpeels layers, he uncovers ghosts. There are the ghosts in the mind of the victim, the haunting tones of a series of unsolved missing persons investigations from decades earlier and there’s the ever-present spectre of his dead brother.

Through visits trawling the stories of the past and the lakes of Iceland, after mystics are consulted and evidence unearthed, the plot-lines are sewn together skilfully so that they have a symbiotic relationship which offers a hugely satisfying read.

If I were to have a minor gripe, it would be to suggest that the translation does not always run smoothly. I can’t be sure on this as my Icelandic is non-existent, but I have a feeling that the translation requires one more light edit to present it at its best. It didn’t detract too much from the pleasure of my reading, but some paragraphs were a little wordy and slightly tangled when simpler language or use of a pronoun might just have streamlined things.

There's also a fair amount of one of my least favourite styles in the writing of speech, that of the ... to represent pauses or hesitancy. It's a small thing that possibly reflects natural conversation, but natural conversation and good written dialogue often bear little relation. Those three dots might have a place, but when they're overused they do irritate me.

Translation and dots aside, this is a tremendous read. The characters and plot are fully formed and each time I put the book down I started looking forward to the next instalment.

I'll definitely be getting to know Erlendur better in the future and I'm certainly recommending this to any fans of the police-procedural who enjoy a touch of class.
Thanks,

nigel

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
10 Feb 2012, 12:49 PM | Post: #26

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

http://nigelpbird.blogspot.com... Please pay attention to this one.

One of the UK's finest releases a collection for Breast Cancer Charities here and in the US.

A must read.
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nigel

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
11 Feb 2012, 11:40 AM | Post: #27

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Thanks,

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
13 Feb 2012, 09:09 PM | Post: #28

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

Guilt. It’s a powerful emotion, one that wrestles with heart and mind alike and usually wins with an easy pin-down. Just ask Raskolnikov and Handy White.
Cemetery Road opens with memories of the last day Handy spent in Los Angeles. The year was 1979, the smell of tar was overwhelming and Handy and his buddies O’Neal Holden and RJ Burrow are burning the money they’ve stolen from a rather unpleasant drug dealer.
It’s a shame they couldn’t have burned their guilt along with it.
Instead, the three men go their separate ways to suffer the twisted consequences of their robbery for the next 25 years.
When Handy gets news that RJ Burrow has been murdered, he attends the funeral fearing the worst – that what happened when they were young has finally caught up with them and that he’ll be next in line.
What follows is an investigation by Handy into the death of his friend. This main strand is threaded in with the recounting of the robbery that set the chain of events in motion. Past and present move on apace, each engaging and impossible to separate.
Gar Anthony Haywood does a splendid job with an excellent premise. Like many of the finest, he uses the voice of the story to describe the impact life’s events have upon the way the world unfolds, as well as paying witness to the inevitable movement of progress that is so much bigger than any individual.
Each chapter opens superbly, as though the author has treated them with the respect one often sees for the notoriously difficult first line. Within these openings, he injects the profound into the ordinary and in doing so adds an extra weight to the things he is about to describe.
It’s a fine book. Well written throughout. The plots run in parallel perfectly well and his handling maintains a variety of tensions and unanswered questions like a juggler who can keep enough balls to supply a tennis match in the air at any one time.
I really enjoyed the slow reveals, the confidence with which Haywood allows Handy to meander through LA and the insides of mechanical objects in whichever way he so wishes and the detailed descriptions of the internal and external worlds on show.
Cemetery Road is a thought-provoking read and a very entertaining one.
Thanks,

nigel

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Offline nigel p bird Reading
19 Feb 2012, 10:12 AM | Post: #29

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

the end of everything by megan abbott



“Everything looks funny now. But I don’t think it’s really changed. I just never saw it before. The pieces just got switched around.”



Transformations in life happen gradually most of the time. We don’t always see them until the process is over.



Such changes are accelerated by sudden events. Traumas and delights both. In ‘The End Of Everything’ we are taken through a series of events where everyone is affected by the gravity of what happens.



When teenager Evie disappears, we get to experience the unfolding of events through Lizzie, Evie’s closest friend.



Lizzie’s whole being is brought sharply into focus as tragedy and the brooding shadows grow. Her eyes are our filter, sometimes microscope, sometimes binoculars, often a Kaleidoscope.



Lizzie positions herself in the middle of the piece, assisting police with their enquiries and, more importantly, Evie’s father Mr Verver with his pain.



Mr Verver’s the kind of amazingly wonderful man you might expect to find inhabiting an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. He shines in everything he does, has everything he needs, attracts the local women like a lighthouse might moths. I pictured him in Technicolor, always in sunlight and always with a smile on his face. It’s the way Lizzie sees him, her crush as big as The Ritz, her need for him bigger still.



And like Mr Fitzgerald’s creations, there is the visible cracking of the veneer.



With all the adults in the piece, Lizzie wonders where the former lives they talk of so freely have gone, why there is no sense of the child and the potential within that child in any of them. The same becomes true of Mr Verver.



“The records all speak to him of memories, but they are old memories, older than me, older than Evie. They are about his father and his old girlfriends and the pals he used to go on road trips with, to see concerts, big outdoor concerts that lasted all day.”



As Lizzie becomes Mr Verver’s hope and comfort, she takes on the role of investigator, the wheels and cogs of her mind a constant whirl. Slowly she manages to put pieces together after a fashion. With each newly uncovered element, the picture becomes more complex. At each revelation, she is forced to make tricky decisions about what to tell the police and to Mr Verver, how to go about it and when.



It produces a delicious pressure that is so beautifully written to make it impossible to speed through the words to get to where you need to get; instead the pain and the tension need to be savoured, phrase by wonderful phrase.



I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Felt nourished as a reader, writer and a human being by the end.



This is a coming-of-age story to rank up there with the best of them ('Rumblefish' and 'The Outsiders' coming immediately to mind).



Lizzie tells all, her hopes and desires as well as her deepest fears and her early probing into life’s sexual adventure. Her style is poetic, finding folds in the smoothest of passages and then folds within them, working and reworking images until they’re perfect. Collages, montages and Kaleidoscopes.



There are parallels to be made with this book and ‘The Lovely Bones’. ‘The End Of Everything’ echoes all that is good about ‘Lovely Bones’ whilst avoiding getting tied into knots and bolting on an unsatisfactory ending, making Megan Abbott’s work far superior.



I found myself wondering how much of the author is in this. Perhaps this is my own delusion, that to tell so frankly and expose such raw feelings it must stem from experience. The way I ended up looking at it is this: either Megan Abbott has laid herself bare before us and, in doing so, produced one of the most stunning books I’ve read for a good while, or she’s managed to protect herself and her experiences and applied an amazing authorial talent to produce one of the most stunning books I’ve read for a good while; it matters not which is real.



Lizzie often describes herself as being full to bursting in one way or another. That’s my main feeling about the book, that as I read I was always full of something – trepidation, wonder, fear, delight – that had me tingling with pleasure and holding my breath all the way through, and always on the verge of bursting.



A little plea from me. Should you read this and enjoy it even half as much as I did, check out a wonderful little book called ‘Blue Sky July’. Though the subject matter couldn’t be more different, there’s something in the rhythm and the use of words that I think you’ll also delight in. Tres bien.
Thanks,

nigel

The Shallows
Offline nigel p bird Reading
21 Feb 2012, 06:09 PM | Post: #30

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RE: Nigel Bird's Lumpen Thread

I hope some of you got on to Megan Abbott.

I had a new review for with love and squalor by nigel bird today.

It's 4 stars and is nice, though on the edge:

'In a strange sort of way (considering it's not the stuff I usually read) I enjoyed this collection of shorts. I thought they were interesting and well-written. Flashes of dark humour. I have to say I struggled a bit with the first one "An Arm and a Leg". I could actually have done with a bit more exposition - not something I normally complain about! I found it a bit of a struggle to read somehow. Loved the others (considering these are not the sort of thing I normally read!). '

I'm not sure whether that's the bait that will take you there, but I appreciate the effort of the poster and am glad the enjoyed most of the collection.

Medium smiles,

nigel
Thanks,

nigel

The Shallows

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