Manhattan’s Babe

Frederic Beigbeder is not a name familiar to many but in France he’s a big deal. I discovered him accidentally wondering around Shakespeare & Co in Paris where I found his book ‘A French Novel’. It’s fun, irreverent and highly readable so when I heard about his novel ‘Manhattan’s Babe’ I was in. The story …

Cristadora

The Gay Bonfire of the Vanities is a lazy shorthand way of describing this book but in all honesty pretty accurate in many regards The story involves the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and early nineties in the East Village of New York City and clearly the author knows his subject, giving you a well …

Ape and Essence

As I get older and more cynical it’s often hard to find books that will engage me. Everything seems tired and done before (or maybe I’m just tired and done before) So it was with no little pleasure that I discovered Yann Martel’s new novel ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’. The Canadian author is responsible …

The Girls

A book I see carried everywhere in New York is Emma Cline’s much-hyped debut ‘The Girls’. It has the perfect pop culture moment to pull upon, the infamous Manson Murders, albeit disguised. The problem on the face it, is that this is such a well-known story that giving a narrative twist or surprise to the …

Katherine Carlyle

I first came across Rupert Thomson many years ago when I brought book called ‘30 under 35’, which purported to contain the best 30 young writers in Britain. He was among them and on the strength of this I brought his first novel ‘Dreams of leaving’ encouraged further by the knowledge that he like me, …

Low Life, High Roller.

Having spent a few years of my life living in Hong Kong and having taken the hydrofoil to the gambling kingdom of Macau on a couple of occasions the book ‘The Ballad of a small time player’ has particular resonance for me. Thankfully I never had a gambling addiction like the one suffered by Lord …

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

As I get older I get harder to please particularly when it comes to literary fiction. So it was pleasant surprise to come across Vendela Vida’s funny and touching ‘The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty’ Set in modern day Morocco it involves the hapless adventures of a mixed-up young woman who meets disaster after disaster by …

Little Lumpen Novelita

An author’s reputation generally rests on his more weighty books. Yet sometimes there are smaller and more fragile works that though not as worthy of critically adoration have the ability to move and demonstrate exactly why a writer is considered one of the immortals. Robert Bolano’s slight novella ‘Little Lumpen Novelita’ is a moody, nihilistic …

Outline

Rachel Cusk has written a wonderfully subtle and beautifully controlled book that is among the best things I’ve read recently. ‘Outline’ is a novel in ten conversation narrated by a woman so apparently anonymous that we only learn her name is Faye, 200 plus pages into a book which is only 249 pages long. Yet …

Prayers for the Stolen

Imagine making a little girl hideously ugly, blackening her teeth with a sharpie, cutting her long flowing hair brutally short so she’ll pass for a boy. In fact, imagine telling everyone she is a boy. Then imagine you’ve done all these things out of a deep love. In Jennifer Clement’s powerful novel ‘Prayers for the …