Saturday, 23 April 2016

Killing Johnny Fry by Walter Mosley

"I noticed that he was wearing a condom - a red one. For some reason the color made me angry"

So when your best friend of the opposite sex says, "this is a book you have to read", you download it from iBooks and go for broke, ending your queries about what exactly constitutes a "sexistential novel". Perhaps better known for his Devil in a blue dress,  Walter Mosely's erotic adventure published in 2006 begins with a man tempted to stray by a youthful kiss and feeling quite guilty. When he returns to his girlfriend's place in an unexpected visit, he is confronted by his girlfriend Joelle, in flagrante delicto in what Kevin Smith would describe as " in an uncomfortable place" - not the back of a Volkswagen.

Cordell chances upon an adult video store and an intriguing dvd starring Sisypha Seaman; a tale of an adulterous woman  being caught out by her husband. Not unlike Cordell's own experience, although slightly more extreme. His journey continues as he questions his boring sex life with his girlfriend, his palpable hatred of Johnny Fry and quest for revenge, interacts with his incestuous neighbours and discovers some drug fuelled sex club hijinks.
Yes, this isn't the book you'd lend to your granny.

The tantalising writing easily suspends disbelief and it is easy to get caught up in Cordell's desire for revenge and to resurrect his bruised ego at being cheated on.

4 out of 5 night time reads are sometimes risqué. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

"There are various reasons why an individual might habitually consume large quantities of alcohol, but they all effectively boil down to the same thing."

A man in a sheep suit, dodgy motels, a man in a rat suit and lots of sex... yes it is time to fall down the Murakami rabbit hole once more. Come on, if you're like me, you'll enjoy the ride.
How can our protagonist resist the lure of a girl with perfect ears. What are perfect ears- is there such a thing? Lord knows this girl doesn't want another thing to worry about not being perfect.

This is far from being my favourite Murakami, even if it does contain a few gems that peaked my interest. I finished all 304 pages in 2 days, or two airports, it literally flies by- no pun intended.

From men who have special relationships with sheep, to ex wives that keep a sex score card, the novel is rich with quirky characters and occurrences, not to mention eminently quotable quotes. Example below:

"We finished our packing and had intercourse, then went out and saw a movie. In the movie there were a lot of men and women having intercourse too. Nothing wrong with watching others having intercourse, after all".

Also who can't relate to a hangover that feels like this:
"Had someone put me in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and like a madman shaken me up?"

While this is far from my favourite dive into the author's worlds, it still has its moments.

4 out of 5 bah bah black sheep of the family signing off.

The Scarecrow by Ronald Hugh Morrieson

"Mabel Collinson had always looked like a goddess to Sam Finn"

This novel was somewhat of an undiscovered gem that I initially had mixed feelings about. I was won over by the cover and its pulp fiction quality that seemed to beckon. I upped my initial review score when I reflected upon its content a few days after I had finished reading.

Initially, I was repulsed by the sense of threat that the violence against women that is such a key element of the story provoked in me. The gang threatening the beautiful Prudence in particularly, gave me the shudders. Beauty is something that is destroyed again and again within the claustrophobic surrounds of a small town.

Juxtaposed against the violence, is the sense of change, wonder and burgeoning sexual awakening that lies at the heart of puberty and is personified by Neddy Poindexter. In any case, this is a novel that brings a strange and unique voice.

Undoubtedly, this novel deserves more readers and it is great that Text Classics is publishing some fantastic Australian, and in this case, New Zealand writers of the past.

5 out of 5 big sisters would be lost without their little brothers.

Rites of Passage by William Golding

"He is quite unpractised in the management of spiritous liquors"

Cabin fever sets in on the long voyage to Australia. Alcohol adds to the drama. As, for the rest; well you will have to discover that for yourself. The prose is dense and yet frenetic, and my appreciation was somewhat complicated by reading in fits and starts, waiting for a plane.
The action is reminiscent of the ups and downs one experiences when tired and over stressed, circumstances akin to those of being stuck on a lengthy sea voyage in cramped quarters.

There is a definite scarcity of open space among the letters of the writer of the journal.

 4 out of 5 days that end in keelhauling can't be good.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Strangest Family by Janice Hadlow

"One of his wife's chief virtues, in George's eyes, was that she never made trouble"

So I finished this one while getting my hair coloured. It is a lengthy process, much like this tale of  the Hanoverians. The cover promised some scandal and intrigue that the content did not really, for me, deliver.
Over more than 600 pages, I learnt a little about the love lives of these past royals, their abilities to birth male or female heirs and the resulting dynastic dilemmas.
I may have fallen asleep at some point. It might have been the combination of wine, hot foils and the hairdryer, who knows.

2 out of 5 wake me up when my reign is over.

The Virgin and the Gypsy by D H Lawrence

"She liked the quiet, noiseless clean-cut presence of him."

Who can resist a dangerously hot gypsy? Certainly not Yvette. This slim little volume doesn't deliver anything too exciting. A brief frisson. It is around 100+ pages that amounts to a one night stand. Through in some grumpy relatives and a bit of a disaster for good measure.
Okay, it is well written. Not to give the story away, well maybe a little; those last few words could ring just as true the morning after in today's world.

3 out of 5 innocents don't remain that way.