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review 2018-11-19 11:29
A Town Like Ours- Alexander Cade


Satire; this sketch on life is dripping with it. Factually, there are no unflawed, boringly normal, characters in the entire and wide cast of this book. Every one of them is easily mockable. The page to page writing is very good, the story so ridiculous though so human that you sort of know that all the elements are plausible and common, though rarely if ever so concentrated even in one small backwater on the road from and to only marginally less isolated nowhere.

The writing is well enough structured that the reading is effortless and entertaining. Description is crisp and focused. Characters are all individualistic enough to be remembered or, if we have been distracted, to be easily reminded of in one or two clear phrases. One comic pratfall flows effortlessly into the next, so that I could not help but find myself in the final chapters almost before I knew what a totally ridiculous ride Cade was taking me on. There we come to what is for me the only weakness in the book, the lack of climatic resolution, the looseness of the final knitting. Does that matter in such a book? Probably not. This isn’t a thriller that desperately needs conclusion, it is more of a wry look at the ridiculousness, the small mindedness, the gullible incompetence that we all occasionally suffer from, and most especially those arrogant individuals that think they never do.



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text 2018-11-15 23:20
Reading progress update: I've read 35%. -wonderful but tough on the emotions
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain

This is, in many ways. a beautiful book. The language is rich and diverse without being pompous or self-conscious. The themes of war, loss, fear and purpose are handled with a deft, light touch that nevertheless refuses to look away or to pretend.


At the heart of the book stands Billy Lynn - nineteen going on twenty - unassuming - just coming to terms with life and what it holds for him - matured by the war in ways he's only beginning to understand - puzzled and troubled by the ferocity with which his fellow Americans talk about the war as the thank him for his service.


Billy is real and likeable. He's not a message or a symbol. He's just a guy in a shitty place trying not to screw up and hoping not to get killed today.


I've just finished the chapter with his one-day Thanksgiving visit with his family during his victory tour. This is when Billy finally understands what he has to lose. Yet he goes back to the Army, who will send him back to Iraq because that's what he signed up for.


This is a tough book to read but only because it seems so truthful.



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text 2018-11-13 08:58
Reading progress update: I've read 10%. - this is going to be good
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" came out in May 2012 but slipped right by me somehow.


That's a shame because this is a remarkable book: accessible, authentic and as is the way with such things, taking you someplace you didn't know you were headed to but that you're glad to arrive at.


This is the story of nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn, of Bravo Squad, a hero of the Iraq war being taken on a victory tour of the USA before being sent back to Iraq to complete the last eleven months of his extended tour of duty.


Now I honestly thought, when I bought this book in October, that my restless trawling of digital book stacks had rewarded me with this gem but it turns out I'm just another happy cog in a marketing chain. I see now that this five-and-a-half-year-old book was in my sights because Ang Lee releases the movie version this month.


Now that should be interesting given that the book opens with a slightly bemused Bravo Squad finding their story being turned in Hollywood movie fodder, with Hillary Swank being considered to play the role of Billy, although whether she'd do so as a woman playing a man or a woman playing a woman is still an open question.


I'm reading "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" for the Armistice Day door on the  24 Festive Task reading challenge.


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review 2018-11-01 19:17
Summer Film Festival of Death by BlueMorpho
Summer Film Festival of Death - BlueMorpho

A polished fanfic in which Sam and Dean attempt to find the cause of the unexplained deaths at a cinema in Florida. They also explore their attraction to each other, taking days off at the beach, etc. Just to complicate matters, Mom and Cas pitch up to help.

Source: archiveofourown.org/works/11965716
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review 2018-10-28 08:39
"No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses!" by Virginia Ironside
No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses! - Virginia Ironside,Maggie Ollerenshaw

A few years ago, I read "No! I Don't Want To Join A Bookclub!" by Virginia Ironside. It was a diary of her character, Marie Sharp's sixtieth year and it was that rare thing, a book that was witty, humane and spoke truthfully about getting older.


At the time, I was in my late fifties and it seemed part warning and part reassurance about what was to come.


"No! I Don't Need Reading Glasses!"is the diary of Marie Sharp's sixty-fifth year. My wife and I are both sixty-one and as we listened to this audiobook we kept finding ourselves laughing and saying, "Yes! That's EXACTLY how it is. Why does no one talk about this?"


Structured as one month of journal entries per chapter, the book carries us through Marie coming to term with the reality of being old and having only getting older and dying ahead of her. It's not a gloomy book, in fact, it's filled with humour, but it doesn't dodge the issues that face the old, even comfortably-off, healthy older people with children and grandchildren.


There is some fun as Marie works with her very traditional no-computer-on-my-desk solicitor to make her will. I've found that solicitors can be remarkably coy about this, as if you can make a will without ever discussing why it might be needed. Marie's matter-of-fact conversation, looking at all the combinations of who might predecease whom and what that would mean, made me smile, as did her antics to challenge the local Council's plan to allow a hotel to be built on one of the few remaining green spaces in Shepard's Bush. True, it's mainly used by drug dealers but that's no reason to allow the Council to take the space away.


The book deals, very compassionately but very accurately, with Alzheimer's and how it steals people from us well before they actually die. Then there are the small oddities of being old: the tendency to fall off ladders,  the need to wait for your joints to unlock in the mornings, the surprise when strangers treat you as though you're old when all you've done is forget to get your purse out in the checkout queue because you were so angry at the person ahead of you for being so slow, It also covers those occasional mornings when you wake and ask yourself, "Why am I still here? What use am I?" before making a cup of tea and getting on with doing what needs to be done.


The joys and challenges of having your child and grandchild move to another continent, including how inadequate Skype is for really staying in touch are covered.


If you're in your sixties, or you want to know what it's like to be in your sixties, or even if you just want a smile, this is the book you should listen to.


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