Archive for March, 2015

The first rule of Book Club…

Posted in Books on March 2, 2015 by thebigsmoke

So, according to this blog I did nothing in 2014.  Probably pretty accurate, but I did in fact join a book club and so here are my thoughts on the selected 2014 reads.

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Only the second Hemingway I have ever read, after, yep, you guessed it, The Old Man and the SeaFor Whom the Bell Tolls was a much meatier read.  Tense and surprisingly brutal at times, it wasn’t bad at all.

Sadie When She Died by Ed McBain

Sadie When She Died

This was a fairly average detective story, but I’m going to give Ed McBain a chance and read some more of his stuff.  His work is the sort of thing I usually enjoy.

Post Office by Charles Bukowski

Post Office

I’m not a huge Bukowski fan, but this was a pretty fun, irreverent kind of read.  Anyone who has encountered bureaucratic injustice in the workplace will identify.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch

I loved this book, to tell the truth.  I also loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but skipped The Little Friend after reading some mediocre reviews.  The Goldfinch was great, though, full of twists and interesting characterisations.

This book, with it’s coming of age tale, and the roster of interesting characters, felt like it was taking its cues from Dickens at his best.  I was reminded of works like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, which is of course no bad thing.

The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard

The Crystal World

I’ve read a few Ballard novels now and he has a pretty turgid writing style in my opinion.  The premise for The Crystal World is fantastic and the book is full of action and adventure really, and yet he manages to make the whole thing a very solemn, gloomy affair.  His work is almost always worth reading, but be prepared to wade rather than skim through it.

Cockfighter by Charles Willeford


Another brilliant book.  I had seen the superb Monte Hellman film adaptation before reading and wish I hadn’t, as the book does a better job of keeping the surprises coming.  Of course this is ostensibly a story about the dubious sport of cockfighting, but underneath that is a superior study of manhood, pride and integrity.  This is one that will put hair on your chest.

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka On The Shore

I loathed reading this Murakami novel at the time, because it quickly became tedious and felt like a waste of time.  You could get bogged down with the meaning of it all, but ultimately I doubt very much that the author had a clear idea of what it was he wanted to say.  With hindsight, though, it made me think, so I have some fondness for it and will try reading some of Murakami’s work at some point.

I could say more, but I think these books have already been dissected enough in the pub and on WhatsApp, so it’s time to move on.

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