Tag Archives: fable

Ben, in the World by Doris Lessing

DATE FINISHED: September 4th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  At 18 years old (looking twice his age) Ben has left home, and is seeking his own place in the world. He has always been ‘different’, and although he has learned (for the most part) to contain his instinctive impulses, he is becoming increasingly desperate to find more people like himself, somewhere he can belong in a world he simply doesn’t understand. Although he meets several people who accept him as he is, for various reasons their refuge is short-lived and instead his life is manipulated by people he knows he cannot trust yet still cannot evade. After being used to carry drugs to France, Ben finds himself in Brazil where he appears to be a highly sought prize by scientists at a local research centre, but also ever closer to the promise of more ‘people like him’…

THOUGHTS:  Ben in the world is a different Ben to the one introduced in The Fifth Child. Read more of this post

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The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman

DATE FINISHED: July 30th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Rebecca has suffered since the day she was born with an overwhelming and uncontrollable ability to project her emotions – an issue she has finally resolved with a handy storage unit containing boxes of mementos, which keeps her excess emotions in check.  On the day of her sister Lisa’s funeral she suddenly realises she has lost touch with some of her feelings which she desperately needs and she realises it is time to deal with her issues – but how?  Aby is a little green around the gills.  Raised as a staunch Aquatic (the religion of an underwater civilisation which evolved following the Flood) she is breathing air for the first time as she crosses the country in a stolen car, on a mission to ‘rescue’ her landlocked, heretical mother Elizabeth before the opportunity is gone.  Elizabeth is running a little-visited hotel in the mountains aided only by Stewart, who in his spare time is building a boat and taking phonecalls from his troubled ex, Rebecca.  Oh, and Lisa’s husband Lewis has met a woman who tells him she is God, but God’s voice is not quite what he might have expected, and has some unforeseen effects…

THOUGHTS:

Stewart got out of the truck and walked into the wheat field he’d parked beside.  The stalks grew higher the deeper into the field he went. He continued walking. The stalks were slightly taller than his waist, but he still didn’t know what to say.

While overwhelming emotions is a problem most of us can already empathise with, it takes a little more suspension of belief to take at face value an Aquatic race living alongside our own Read more of this post

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice

DATE FINISHED: July 24th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  When Kellyanne’s imaginary friends disappear, she quickly slides into a mysterious illness. Although big brother Ashmol has never believed in Pobby and Dingan himself, he decides that the only way to cure her is to get the rest of their small mining town out looking for the missing invisibles, to prove to Kellyanne that people care. But will the plan work?  At the same time, their father is accused of ‘ratting’ at the local opal mines, and must contend with a swell of local opinion against him as his daughter wastes away before his eyes…

THOUGHTS:  Although on the surface this is a sentimental premise, Rice neatly avoids cliché in its telling. Read more of this post

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Orphaned Silver is apprenticed to lighthousekeeper Pew, and in the darkness of the lighthouse she finds stories hang in the air like seaspray. From Pew she learns about Babel Dark, the minister son of the man who built the lighthouse, and his own haunted tale of love and duality. And eventually Silver follows the trail to find a love of her own.

THOUGHTS:  Winterson’s musical prose weaves back and forth through time, painting vivid pictures of darkness and light, past and present but avoiding extraneous detail: a watercolour wash of dreamlike images. Read more of this post

Ella Minnow Pea by Matt Dunn

DATE FINISHED: March 29th, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  The tiny island of Nollop has built its life and customs around the revered lipogram, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’. When – due surely to the passage of time – the lettering on the memorial statue begins to fall away, the Nollopian council decrees that useage of the fallen letters must likewise fall from use.  The island’s story is told through a postal correspondence, of correspondingly limited letters.

THOUGHTS:   I was worried that the story would suffer at the hands of its premise and turn into a technical exercise at the expense of narrative flow, but luckily this fear was unfounded.   Read more of this post

Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

DATE FINISHED: October 5th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  9 year old Walt is plucked from the streets of St. Louis by the mysterious Master Yehudi, and promised that he will be taught how to fly. At a farm in Kansas, Walt is put through a tortuous 33 step program but his sharp wit sees him through, and after he stops fighting, realises that for the first time he is in the midst of a family that loves him. But with flight achieved and showbusiness stardom beckoning, is the future really as bright as it seems?

THOUGHTS:  On one level, I really enjoyed this book. Walt and Master Yehudi are great characters, and the story sucked me in immediately. Read more of this post

Doctor Salt by Gerard Donovan

DATE FINISHED: April 28th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  This two-part novel begins with Sunless, travelling to and from the Pharmalak hospital, participating in trials for new pills, for every kind of anxiety disorder. In the second half of the book we meet Salt, whose life-course is altered irrevocably by the aftermath of a family tragedy in his early childhood, shedding new light on the world of Sunless.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

Illusions by Richard Bach

DATE FINISHED: April 23rd, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS: Donald Shimoda, has quit his role as Messiah, bored with the crowds who craved miracles but would not listen. Making ends meet by selling short flights in his bi-plane, Richard meets Donald in a field in Illinois, and through their conversations, Richard learns what it is to be the Messiah.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

Sulphuric Acid by Amelie Nothomb

DATE FINISHED: April 18th, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS: A large number of people are randomly incarcerated and their lives in a specially created death camp are televised for the viewing public in the latest reality TV project: working all day long, surviving on gruel and stale bread, prisoners are daily condemned to death. Inmate Pannonique captures the imagination of the public and camp alike but does she have the power to put an end to the insane project?

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post