Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
Since I am on vacation  I am getting a chance to catch up on some of my TBR.

Finished this week:

Great House
From the book jacket:
For twenty-five years, a solitary American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet's secret police; one day a girl claiming to be his daughter arrives to take it away, sending her life reeling. Across the ocean in London, a man discovers a terrifying secret about his wife of almost fifty years. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer is slowly reassembling his father's Budapest study, plundered by the Nazis in 1944. 

These worlds are anchored by a desk of enormous dimension and many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or give it away. In the minds of those it has belonged to, the desk comes to stand for all that has disappeared in the chaos of the world-children, parents, whole peoples and civilizations. Nicole Krauss has written a hauntingly powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.

My review:

After my last two reviews this is going to be a painful one. Did I like it? No. It is a sad book in which none of the characters are happy. They are miserably unhappy and totally self absorbed in their misery. I did not like any of them and in particular the first narrator make me almost put the book down with her pretentious rambling on about her sad love life and attachment to a desk.
The writing is disjointed, sentences run on and on.
 I can't even figure out where the title came from. Nicole Krauss has written four stories of  intertwined characters stemming from the second world war to present. We flip between New York, London and Jerusalem with some travels to other cities.
The story entirely stems around a writing desk. To quote one of the narrators:
"To call it a desk is to say too little. The word conjures some homely, unassuming article of work or domesticity, a selfless and practical object that is always poised to offer up its back for its owner to make use of, and which, when not in use, occupies its allotted space with humility."
I will say that there were some themes that affected me on a personal level. The theme of eldest vs youngest child, Alzheimer's. 

Still waiting to be finished from last week:

London Orbital
From the book jacket:
London Orbital sets out to map the London that is deeply unfashionable and strangely unknown, even to those who live there. With an engaging wit familiar to his readers, Iain Sinclair focuses on the vast stretch of urban settlement bounded by the M25, the road that encircles London. Against dramatic smoke-filled skies he chronicles a series of epic walks, accompanied by simpatico friends and encountering such denizens of this demimonde as J. G. Ballard. Dave McKean's illustrations accompany this exploration of the desolate realm surrounding the historic city.

Status - is growing on me.

Whatever You Love

From the book jacket:
Two police officers knock on Laura's door and her life changes forever. They tell her that her nine-year old daughter Betty has been hit by a car and killed. When justice is slow to arrive, Laura decides to take her own revenge and begins to track down the man responsible.

Status - ok so far, nothing really catching my interest.

The Complaints
From Goodreads:
It must be a double-edged sword to be Ian Rankin. Of course it's comforting to be Britain's best-selling male crime writer -- and to have created one of the most iconic characters in detective fiction in the irascible (and indomitable) D. I. Jack Rebus. But Rankin -- a writer who has clearly never been content to simply repeat himself -- had made it clear that there would be a finite number of Rebus books (the character, after all, was ageing in real time as Rankin had always planned that he should do). And with Exit Music he wrote finis to the career of his tough Glaswegian cop. But Rankin had made a rod for his own back: a less high-profile writer might get away with a change of pace which didn't quite come off -- not so Ian Rankin. And fortunately, the standalone heist novel which was the first post-Rebus book, Doors Open, was a winner and proved categorically that there was life after Rebus.
With The Complaints, we have the first novel by Ian Rankin featuring a new protagonist, another Edinburgh copper, Malcolm Fox. But Fox is quite a different character to his predecessor, although both men are imposing physically. For a start, Fox doesn't drink and is initially less confrontational than the bolshie Rebus. But where the latter’s taste in music ran (like the author’s) to rock music -- Rankin fans know about the Rebus titles echoing those of the Rolling Stones -- Fox is more inclined to listen to serious music. The city, however, is the same, and although some may regret that the massively talented Rankin has not moved into new territory along with his new copper, there's no denying that the author is the ultimate modern chronicler of Edinburgh, with a gift for pungent evocation worthy of his great Scottish literary predecessors. And it's a relief to report that The Complaints augurs very well for any further books featuring Malcolm Fox.
Fox is part of the unpopular Complaints & Conduct department of the police force (better known as ‘The Complaints’) -- and the reason for that unpopularity is clear to see: this is the department designed to root out corruption in the force and investigate suspect officers. The current target for Fox is policeman Glenn Heaton of the CID, who has often sailed close to the edge; now there appears to be material for a case against him. But at the same time, another cop, Jamie Breck, is suspected of being part of a ring indulging in child abuse. Fox is in for some jawdropping surprises regarding his colleague, and the shifting relationship between the two men is at the core of this finely honed narrative (along with Fox's treatment of his ailing father -- something else which differentiates this book from its predecessors).
There will, of course, be Rebus fans who would have been happy for Rankin to go on creating new problem for his awkward copper, but most admirers of the author will be happy with this striking change of pace -- and will be hungry for further outings for Malcolm Fox and the Complaints unit. --Barry Forshaw
Status - totally enjoying it so far.
I didn't include some reviews from last Monday's post as I hadn\t had time to write them,

Here is one for Winterwood.

And one for Night Frost.


  1. It's always good to find that a writer of a long running series can do different characters, without the characters seeming to be the exact same person with a different name.

    Sounds like a good writer, I might take a look at his books soon.

    Happy reading


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