Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category
Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
And the Soft Wind Blows Synopsis
Timmy Enosh is a peculiar, small man: fivethree, onehundred andfifteen pounds, and is a pharmacist in Ashton City, Tennessee. He finds himself at fortythreeyearsold as his life starts to fall apart: his threehundred pound wife disappears, his romantic interest has lost interest and has gained hatred toward him, his coworkers harass him, customers verbally assault him, and he has the strange urge to adopt his foulmouthed, eighteenyearold coworker, Alex. When things start to pile up, Timmy must find a way to deal: he turns to Alex to supply him with marijuana, starts sewing an elaborate Mr. Mistoffelees costume, finds solace in the wild, etc., etc., etc. And the soft, constant wind of change blows him on, on, and on. (Amazon)
With his debut novella And the Soft Wind Blows, Lance Umenhofer is staking his claim on a spot in the young writing avant garde. It appears he is intentionally pushing boundaries and the result is, in the main, a success.
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Fun & Games Synopsis
The 1980’s: it’s the time of Dungeons & Dragons, banana clips, and Atari. Jonathan Schwartz is growing up in a family like no other. His sisters, Nadia, the dark genius, and Olivia, the gorgeous tease and temptress, manipulate Jon and his friends for their own entertainment. And his Holocaust survivor grandparents? Their coping techniques are beyond embarrassing. A disastrous visit to Jon’s class by his grandmother unhinges his famous father, setting off a chain of events that threatens to send the dysfunctional Schwartz clan up in flames once and for all.
Fun & Games is a heartbreaking and hilarious story of faith, family secrets, betrayal, and loss—but it’s also a tale of friendship, love, and side-splitting shenanigans.
(Library Tales Publishing)
BOOK REVIEW by Tony Ziemek
Fun & Games is a rare combination of intelligence and entertainment. As the title suggests it’s a fun read and I finished it in one evening after a couple of false starts as I struggled to get past the initial 1980’s setting. I’ve been there once and didn’t really want to go back! But after a few pages the characters and the plot, the humour and the faultless prose take over and this reader at least was fully engaged. The characters are beautifully rounded with marvellous eccentricities (especially the sister Nadia) but there is never a sense that Mr Slater is straining for effect.
Friday, June 14th, 2013
It’s Christmas Eve in Manhattan. Harrison Hanafan, noted plastic surgeon, falls on his ass. ‘Ya can’t sit there all day, buddy, looking up people’s skirts!’ chides a weird gal in a coat like a duvet. She then kindly conjures the miracle of a taxi. While recuperating with Franz Schubert, Bette Davis, and a foundling cat, Harrison adds items to his life’s work, a List of Melancholy Things (puppetry, shrimp-eating contests, Walmart…) before going back to rhinoplasties, liposuction, and the peccadilloes of his obnoxious colleagues.
Then Harrison collides once more with the strangely helpful woman, Mimi, who bursts into his life with all her curves and chaos. They soon fall emphatically in love. And, as their love-making reaches a whole new kind of climax, the sweet smell of revolution is in the air.
By turns celebratory and scathing, romantic and dyspeptic, Mimi is a story of music, New York, sculpture, martinis, public speaking, quilt-stealing, eggnog and, most of all, love. A vibrant call-to-arms, this is Lucy Ellmann’s most extraordinary book to date.
With the mention of Berlusconi in the opening paragraph (yes, I am referring to the former Italian Prime Minister known for inappropriateness), you quickly realise there is something distinctly different about this novel. The sheer audacity of the story and at times prose is at the outset utterly captivating.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Today Booklover Book Reviews is hosting the TLC Book Tour for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.
In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed–a failed physician–to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
With The English Patient’s dramatic sweep and The Tiger’s Wife’s expert sense of place, Marra gives us a searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, and how it can cause us to become greater than we ever thought possible. (Amazon)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena deserves the adoration it has quickly garnered. It is stunning for many reasons, not least that it is the first published novel from author Anthony Marra, still in his twenties. The only recent parallel that comes to mind is the maturity of Jennifer duBois’ debut A Partial History of Lost Causes.
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Black Bread White Beer Synopsis
OBSERVER BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2012
LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE
Amal is driving his wife Claud from London to her parents’ country house. In the wake of Claud’s miscarriage, it is a journey that will push their relationship – once almost perfect – towards possible collapse.
In this, his latest novel, Govinden casts a critical eye on a society in which, in spite of never-ending advances in social media communications, the young still find it difficult to communicate.
A devastatingly passionate and real portrait of a marriage, Black Bread White Beer keenly captures the abandon, selfishness, hazards and pleasures that come with giving your life to another.
(The Friday Project, Harper Collins)
BOOK REVIEW by Tony Ziemek
In tone and atmosphere, Black Bread White Beer by Niven Govinden is quintessentially British. Yet it is not just the Britain of village greens and quaint pubs but the modern one of cultural intermingling and friction. Amal is from an Indian family in Leicester. He is married to Claud, whose family live in a Sussex village of maypoles, morris dancers and organising petitions against a changing world.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Poet’s Cottage Synopsis
Poets had always lived there, the locals claimed. It was as if the house called to its own…
When Sadie inherits Poet’s Cottage in the Tasmanian fishing town of Pencubitt, she sets out to discover all she can about her notorious grandmother, Pearl Tatlow. Pearl was a children’s writer who scandalised 1930s Tasmania with her behaviour. She was also violently murdered in the cellar of Poet’s Cottage and her murderer never found.
Sadie grew up with a loving version of Pearl through her mother, but her aunt Thomasina tells a different story, one of a self-obsessed, abusive and licentious woman. And Pearl’s biographer, Birdie Pinkerton, has more than enough reason to discredit her.
As Sadie and her daughter Betty work to uncover the truth, strange events begin to occur in the cottage. And as the terrible secret in the cellar threads its way into the present day, it reveals a truth more shocking than the decades-long rumours.
Poet’s Cottage is a beautiful and haunting mystery of families, bohemia, truth, creativity, lies, memory and murder. (Booktopia)
Poet’s Cottage by Josephine Pennicott is a gothic mystery novel that contains all the ingredients of a success. It has a complex web narrative across historical time periods, in this case the 1930s and the present day. The story is set in a charming little Tasmanian town exposed to the elements and steeped in history, scandal and murder.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Dead Lions Synopsis
London’s Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted any more. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle-not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there — even if it means having to collaborate with one another.
Now the slow horses have a chance at redemption. An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. The despicable, irascible Jackson Lamb is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world. How many more people will have to die to keep those secrets buried?
I was an unabashed fan of the British TV series Spooks and will admit to having enjoyed an episode or two of the slightly less cool but charming TV series New Tricks. Add to that my penchant for satire and humour on the darker side, and it seems Mick Herron’s latest novel Dead Lions was made for me.