Monday, December 29, 2014

THE HANDMAIDS TALE - Margaret Atwood

This is a chilling tale set in the future where mass sterility has necessitated fertile women being used as brood mares by the elites.

I have read reviews where Atwood states she dislikes this work being described as 'science fiction' and prefers it to be described as possible fiction.  I agree, we have seen over the last century several totalitarian regimes and how easy it is for them to rise to power, Germany being the prime example. It only takes many doing nothing as rights are eroded with others appeasing rather than opposing violently.

Offred, the Handmaid of our tale relates her current life interwoven with her life prior to the totalitarian state she is now in being created.  This is a state of fear violence and of course mass hypocrisy, all things that go with these regimes.

This is a great read, chilling because it is so easy to imagine this occurring but it is also uplifting because the human desire for freedom cannot not be extinguished, forced into hiding, but not got rid of.

WISE BLOOD - Flannery O'Connor

Described as 'southern gothic' it is the tale of Hazel Motes, recently discharged from the army as he sets outs to set up a 'anti' religious church- the "Church Without Christ" and from this we follow his descent into madness.

This novel is on several "best of lists" about the place but I struggle to see this.  This is a re-write of several interwoven stories that were originally short stories.  After the re-write it was published as this novel and unsurprisingly was a commercial flop.  Over the years it has gathered some traction but in my opinion this has had more to do with her later work and premature death.  This was her first novel , the first chapter being the "basis of her masters thesis". (Wiki)

Reading this it stills feels like several separate short stories.  Its funny in places with some disturbing imagery but several character's just drift away with no explanation.

My highlight was the police's solution in solving Hazel driving without a driving licence, much laughing over this.

No doubt Ms O'Connor could write but this left me wondering about too much of the story to really enjoy it.


The world of T S Garp is different.  Son of a reluctant feminist icon, a wrestler, novelist, father, husband whose best friend is a transgender ex-professional football player.

We follow Garp from his conception until late adulthood with all the triumphs and tragedies along the way.  This is very funny and even the tragic parts are so over the top that I laughed.  The penalty his wife's lover pays is a high point.  He pays a terrible price!

Several good shots by Irving at modern society with his mad feminists who have cut out their tongues in a supposed show of "solidarity"with a young rape victim who suffers this fate.

Then there is the uni-cycling bear and short novels within a novel.

This is outstanding, I was entertained from start to finish.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Thirty Five years after it was published I have finally got around to reading this very funny book.  I am not a science fiction fan but anyone who can read will laugh out loud at this.

Arthur Dent and his alien friend Ford Prefect just manage to escape Earth prior to its destruction and have many adventure travelling through space.

One of the highlights for myself was at the beginning of the book with Arthur and then Ford dealing with the sad wee man from the Council.  Its one of the funniest and most scathing indictments of petty officialdom you'll read anywhere.

Just a lovely book. Adams was a one man Monty Python team, sheer genius.


This is a compilation of 16 short stories originally published in 1953 featuring the Oxford Don Gervase Fen as the amateur detective who consistently makes the constabulary look good.

These are good solid detective tales without any particular one being a jaw dropper but they are well constructed and entertaining.

Crispin is not Conan Doyle,but like Conan Doyle a very interesting man in his own right , so if you like writing from this era like I do you'll get a lot of enjoyment from these stories.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

THE HOT ROCK - Donald E.Westlake

John Dortmunder is a thief who has just been released from prison and he is offered a chance for an 'easy" big score.  So the scene is set for a Westlake caper.  The gang just have to steal a large emerald, easy!

As usual the story is slightly or even hugely over the top but the characters are engaging and there is slick dialogue and humour throughout.

Never boring, always fun, the perfect beach book over summer.