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Author Topic: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)  (Read 520485 times)

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3825 on: March 09, 2018, 05:42:41 AM »
Has anybody read ”The Sparsholt Affair” by Alan Hollinghurst, and/or ”The Heart's Invisible Furies's by John Boyne?

They are strangely similar in structure – both telling the story of a gay man from his birth in the 1940’s, and, in jumps of 10 or so years between chapters, up until more or less now. And both book has about 600 pages, I think – have read them on my Kindle.

”The Sparsholt Affair” takes place in the UK, and is very much about the general change of attitude towards gays during those 70 years, whereas ”The Heart's Invisible Furies is set in Ireland, and is primarily a protest against religiously based homophobia.

Both are formidable works, and even if they are so similar in structure as is the case, they are also very different in the style of writing.

Anybody?

I caught up with The Heart's Invisible Furies over the last two days. I could hardly put it down. What a mixture of tragedy, horror and hilarious farce!

Online brian

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3826 on: March 09, 2018, 03:12:35 PM »
I agree Tony
I ordered both books after the previous post- they had to come from UK. Enjoyed both - Sparsholt came first and I always read Hollinghurst's novel but Invisible Furies was more gripping although at times I felt like throttling Cyril.

Offline Gazapete

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3827 on: March 18, 2018, 11:58:46 AM »
Sebastian Barry's novel Days without End made me suspend my routines in order to devour it.

Very young teenager Thomas McNulty of Sligo, Ireland, orphaned by the Great Famine of the 1840s, stows away on a coffin ship to fearful Canada, makes his way to America and seeking shelter from a rainstorm in Missouri, dives under a hedge where he encounters young teenager John Cole who is also fleeing hunger on his father's exhausted Massachusetts farm.

The two boys team up in order to survive, fall into work as dancing partners dressed as women for miners in a saloon until their maturation catches up with them and they are no longer viable in the role. Again driven by hunger, the 17-year olds join the army in 1851 and find themselves subject to the great hardships of soldiers' lives and embroiled in the atrocities of the Indian Wars and later the Civil War.

Thomas tells us "John Cole was my love, all my love."

Thomas McNulty's distinctive voice in Sebastian Barry's lyrical prose lured me into avidly following their epic lives together over more than two decades of sickeningly cruel violence and peaceful familial periods. I often feared the worst for them, though the threats to them are not responses to their relationship, a relationship which they never question.

Sebastian Barry is a prize-winning Irish writer, Days Without End was inspired by his 16-year old's coming out and his immediate acceptance. The book is dedicated to him.

I'm reading it right now and can't stop, I am getting this strage feeling, trying to read slower so that the book lasts longer. Don't tell me how it ends, we are still in the fort starving and freezing.

Offline Gazapete

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3828 on: March 20, 2018, 06:13:10 AM »
I just finished "Days Without End" and am still in awe. I am not a literature critic and cannot write deep brainy reviews, so I won't even try, but I fiercely recommend this book. It’s hard, accurate, at times cruel, but hidden in it is always this warm feeling of two people in love struggling to survive, and you can’t but feel with them, root for them and hold your breath until the very last page. It is so visual that I think it would do a great movie. It really got me this one.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3829 on: March 20, 2018, 11:27:20 PM »
I just finished "Days Without End" and am still in awe. I am not a literature critic and cannot write deep brainy reviews, so I won't even try, but I fiercely recommend this book. It’s hard, accurate, at times cruel, but hidden in it is always this warm feeling of two people in love struggling to survive, and you can’t but feel with them, root for them and hold your breath until the very last page. It is so visual that I think it would do a great movie. It really got me this one.

Well said! My feelings too.

Online Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3830 on: March 23, 2018, 11:29:08 AM »
Just finished 'A Place Called Winter.'   Gale's description of the Canadian prairies was fascinating. Interesting how he based the story on his real-life ancestor, but incorporated fictional characters and events to make the story come alive.  There are surprises along the way, but such a tale of sadness, love, brutality and isolation that I was left feeling wrung out with emotion.           

I've finally read A Place Called Winter, which I'd decided not to do originally as I thought it sounded too tough. But I was lent it by a friend and didn't like to say no :), and in fact I'm very glad I did read it. Yes, it was very tough, and very tragic in places, but overall it didn't get me down, because there is hope at the end. (There was an interview on the radio with Patrick Gale about this book just after I'd read it, and he ended up: "I hope they will be all right.")

I enjoyed a lot of the pioneering aspects, and the unusual but loving relationships that developed. There are no explicit descriptions of sex between the two people who matter, but what there is is tender and evocative.

Patrick Gale lives in Cornwall, and gives a lot of talks and discussion, particularly in the South West where I live. Unfortunately he's doing one in a couple of weeks on 'Winter' which I can't go to, but in September there'll be some on his new book, Take Nothing With You, which I'll read, and hopefully I can go to hear him.
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline gattaca

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3831 on: March 23, 2018, 02:08:54 PM »
Patrick Gale is responsible for MIAOS,  that Patrick Gale?

Online Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3832 on: March 23, 2018, 02:10:27 PM »
That very one!
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline killersmom

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3833 on: March 23, 2018, 02:37:23 PM »
I'll have to look up his books. Many sound really good.
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Online Sara B

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3834 on: April 05, 2018, 08:21:24 AM »
I read Love Simon (Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda), before going to see the film this coming weekend. Whichever way round you do it, the mystery will be spoilt, and do try not to see anything showing the ending of the film! I had, which gave me a big clue.

But it doesn’t really matter. The book is definitely a teenage/young adult novel, nicely written and very enjoyable once I’d worked out who all the characters were. And I'm looking forward to the film.
“When we grow older still we’ll speak about those two young men as if they were two strangers..... And we’ll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.”

Call Me by Your Name, André Aciman.

Offline BlueAmber63

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3835 on: April 05, 2018, 04:40:18 PM »
I've finally read A Place Called Winter, which I'd decided not to do originally as I thought it sounded too tough. But I was lent it by a friend and didn't like to say no :), and in fact I'm very glad I did read it. Yes, it was very tough, and very tragic in places, but overall it didn't get me down, because there is hope at the end. (There was an interview on the radio with Patrick Gale about this book just after I'd read it, and he ended up: "I hope they will be all right.")

I enjoyed a lot of the pioneering aspects, and the unusual but loving relationships that developed. There are no explicit descriptions of sex between the two people who matter, but what there is is tender and evocative.

Patrick Gale lives in Cornwall, and gives a lot of talks and discussion, particularly in the South West where I live. Unfortunately he's doing one in a couple of weeks on 'Winter' which I can't go to, but in September there'll be some on his new book, Take Nothing With You, which I'll read, and hopefully I can go to hear him.

I bought this book just a few week after it was first published....and *yes*..I found
it very hard going. I put it down.....then pick it back up again several times. This went on for a good few months. I did eventually get through it but it left no impression on me. Sorry.
Wanting him to come back... before anyone notices
part of the world has not moved...since he left.

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3836 on: April 18, 2018, 07:29:56 PM »
“Love is language”

When straight American lawyer David Rocklin was working on his first novel (The Luminist) with a character inspired by the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, he came across her portrait of Alemayehu, the young orphan son of the Abyssinian Emperor, Tewodros II, taken in England in 1868. He was haunted by the little prince's expression. He looked into his story after he finished writing The Luminist.

The result was Rocklin's second novel, The Night Language which I bought not knowing anything about it. The novel begins in 1900 and flashes back and forth between then and 1868, building up into a powerful page-turner with some surprising twists.

In the novel, the injured Prince Alamayou is brought to England after the British defeat of the emperor at the Battle of Meqdala. Aboard a ship full of British soldiers, he shares a cabin with Philip Layard, a British-born Black man who was assistant to a British doctor who was part of the expeditionary force. Having no common language, Philip tries to communicate with the traumatised Alamayou through gestures and teach him some English.

On arrival in London, they are both taken to Windsor Castle for political propaganda purposes and Philip is made responsible for Alamayou. The prince attracts the support of Queen Victoria who is still mourning the loss of Prince Albert.

The novel explores the developing relationships of Philip, Alamayou and Queen Victoria in a time of political intrigue. The two young men find a way of communicating personally through painting, but cannot understand enough to respond to the demands being made on them until eventually a character who speaks some Amharic is found. Without being at all didactic or hectoring, this timely (2017) novel touches on issues of class, colonialism, xenophobia, racism, gender and homophobia.

I found the novel absorbing. When I finished it, I wanted to know more about the history. Reading some articles, I found David Rocklin did draw on some historical facts, but very loosely.

The real Prince Alemayehu was brought to Britain at the age of 7, much younger than the young Alamayou of the novel. When Queen Victoria met Prince Alemayehu on the Isle of Wight, she sponsored his schooling at various colleges, Rugby and officer training at Sandhurst, but he died of pleurisy at the age of 17. Although there is a memorial plaque in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, he was actually buried along with a number of other bodies in a brick vault next to the chapel. Queen Victoria wrote sympathetically about him in her diary. Philip Layard seems to be an entirely fictional character who rescues Alamayou at the site of his parents' death which is graphically much worse than the historical facts.

Coincidentally, I came across a Guardian article the other day about the Ethiopian government pressing the British for the return of the prince's remains which the British claim they can't identify. The Ethiopians have also been pressing for the return of the Abyssinian imperial and religious treasures which were looted and many were auctioned off in 1868. The novel refers to this.There is currently an exhibition of some of them at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and an arrangement for them to be sent to Ethiopia on long-term (permanent?) loan.

The Night Language is more like a romantic alternative history or historical fantasy intended by the author to inspire some sense of hope. The love that dared not speak its name in 1868 and 1900 is portrayed as very noble and heroic. (The novel is also very chaste with much of the relationship of Alamayou and Philip left almost entirely to the reader's imagination.)
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 08:47:13 PM by tfferg »

Offline tfferg

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3837 on: May 06, 2018, 03:08:40 AM »
Again not knowing anything about it, I read the glowing cover blurbs and took a punt on buying A Natural by Ross Raisin, even though the characters are involved in football in the UK (soccer for Australian and American readers) which I have no interest in. When I went to pay for it, the handsome man working in the bookshop commented that it is very good.

19-year-old youth international Tom Pearman has not been given a contract by the Premier League academy of his boyhood in the north of England. He is taken on by a failing fictional lower league club (Town) near the south coast, but finds himself on the substitute bench as a winger instead of as a striker. He's shy, introverted, lonely and struggling with his sexuality in a horrible situation.

A Natural depicts the closed, hypermasculine, ruthlessly competitive world of professional football which is still extremely homophobic in contrast with the progress in the wider society of the UK. The players' lives are dominated by tension and fear.

Ross Raisin is a supporter of Bradford City. From the time he was 7, his father took him to the games every week. Their Saturdays together were his father's main way of expressing his love for his son, the times they were closest. The most admirable characters in the novel are Tom's parents.

A Natural is not a sports novel, it is not about football, but it is set in the claustrophobic world of football. The author says it is about identity and shame and love. He says it is not a book for men, or for football supporters; it is a book for readers.

He devoted a lot of time to interviewing professional footballers individually in private so that they would speak more freely and honestly. He published a feature article about his research in Esquire magazine in May 2017. Insider readers have attested to the book's veracity.

It took me a while to get into it, especially as there are alternating chapters centring on Chris Easter, the captain of Town who is struggling as he comes to the end of his career, and on his wife Leah. These chapters seem dull and irrelevant until later in the book when the author connects the four central characters' stories. In tune with the characters' repressed feelings, the writing is often flatly matter of fact, but there are striking images and lyrical passages too.

Novelist Jude Cook wrote in the Guardian: “Not since Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain has there been a better portrayal of conflicted male sexuality.”

Although most of the characters do dreadful things and there are very sad failures and losses, A Natural is not as completely tragic as BBM and there seems to be some hope for some of the characters.

BTW A Natural is not to be confused with the American novel The Natural about baseball. Ross Raisin's first novel is entitled God's Own Country, but, although it is set in rural Yorkshire, it is not the story of Francis Lee's film. There's absolutely no connection. Some reviewers and bloggers confuse the books and films.

Offline gattaca

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3838 on: July 03, 2018, 05:11:26 PM »
Read this recently and thought it well written with some great messages about life.

"Dream Teams" by Shane Snow

https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Teams-Working-Together-Without/dp/0735217793/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530659411&sr=8-1&keywords=dream+teams+shane+snow

Later, V.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: What good book have you read lately? (New or old)
« Reply #3839 on: July 24, 2018, 07:41:47 AM »
Again not knowing anything about it, I read the glowing cover blurbs and took a punt on buying A Natural by Ross Raisin, even though the characters are involved in football in the UK (soccer for Australian and American readers) which I have no interest in. When I went to pay for it, the handsome man working in the bookshop commented that it is very good.

I should look for this one. The situation and attitudes sound not too terribly different from what I understand to be the situation in professional American football.