Tag Archives: Random House UK

All The Rage by A.L. Kennedy

All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy Title: All the Rage
Author: A.L. Kennedy
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224098434
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I have just started reading A.L. Kennedy’s books and I can say with guarantee that I will not stop at two. The first one I read was, “The Blue Book” which left me speechless and breathless. The second one which I have just finished reading is, “All the Rage” – a collection of short stories by her and this one according to me was better than the novel for sure. More so, because I have this soft corner for short stories.

The stories are burning with passion – and yet so subtle that the words will break your heart. There is sex, there is this all-consuming rage and then there are moments of peace and wonder. A.L. Kennedy manages to fit in everything – and the collection sure has a great punch to it as well.

The title story is about a marriage falling apart at a railway station – waiting for the train to arrive. My favourite was the story about a woman who has seemed to have lost it all and walks through the aisle of a sex emporium with an electric penis in her hand. A middle-aged woman goes into town with her older lover, who will pay her debt and then move in with her. It is beautiful. I mean the power of words which Kennedy uses here is something else. You only have to read it to believe what a writer can be capable of.

A.L. Kennedy’s stories make you sit up and perhaps make you also want to be in those situations. That is the way she writes – expecting or rather demanding the full attention of the reader – another level of involvement altogether and nothing less than that.

There are times of comedy. There are times of tragedy. It is almost the author’s style of writing is dichotomist and she takes great pride in that as well. The stories are about brief, damaged loves. In every story of the twelve that she has written – that is the underline theme. “All the Rage” is a collection that will make you look at love a little differently and maybe it will be worth it.

Just So Happens by Fumio Obata

Just So Happens by Fumio Obata Title: Just So Happens
Author: Fumio Obata
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 9780224096638
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Home is where the heart is. Home is also sometimes the place that you want to go back to the most and just cannot. There are times you long for it and there are times you cannot stand to be in that place. Relationships perhaps are the crux to home. They can either make or break what is home for the person. To a very large extent, it also depends on the past and that is exactly what Fumio Obata’s graphic novel, “Just So Happens” is about – the meaning of home and its importance.

I live away from home. I am from Bombay and I live in Bangalore. It is in the same country no doubt and yet home seems a million miles away. It is almost suffocating at times, not to be at home – the feeling of alienation and then I also try very hard to fit in. Homesickness, longing for home and trying very hard to not choke when you see others around you enjoying their home city.

“Just So Happens” is the story of Yumiko, a young Japanese designer living in London and making it on her own. The past seems a distant memory. Till her brother calls her one fine day, to inform her that their father has died in a mountaineering accident. Life changes in a flash. Yumiko has to return to Japan for a while and has to make choices, she never thought she would.

I am obviously not giving away a lot of the plot because I would like you, as a reader to experience it for yourself. The illustrations are beautiful (they better be, given it is a graphic novel) with vivid brushstrokes – also how the artist separates the two cities and also the hues which are well brought out in the graphics.

I could relate to the book at so many levels and yet at some points I thought the story was a drag, till it picked itself up and then there was no looking back. “Just So Happens” is a heart-warming and yet at times very introspective graphic novel of belonging, identity and to pick up the pieces of life and build it all over again.

Affiliate Link:

Buy JUST SO HAPPEN

Book Review: Lighter than my Shadow by Katie Green

Lighter than my Shadow by Katie Green Title: Lighter than my Shadow
Author: Katie Green
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 9780224090988
Genre: Memoirs, Graphic Novel
Pages: 528
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I finished reading this book yesterday and could not sleep for a while. I kept thinking about the book and the protagonist, the author, Katie Green and her eating disorder and her life and how she made her peace with her condition. The book is also a lot more than just that. It is about the choices we make in life; it is about what makes us and what does not, the mistakes we make and ultimately also about forgiving ourselves in the larger scheme of things.

I do not know how or when an eating disorder happens, but after reading the book, I could empathize a lot with the author’s condition. I emotionally eat a lot. I eat when I am upset. I eat when I am sad and then there have also been times, when I have wanted to throw up everything I ate, because I did not feel good about myself. I could also see Katie going through the same as she chronicles that side of her life in “Lighter than my Shadow”.

Sample 1

All I can say is that it takes a lot of courage to bare your story. To talk about what you felt and how you felt – to speak of your friends’ reaction, your family and their support, the emotional scars and how one tries so hard to do what one wants to. The need to be accepted and the need to remain stable are depicted beautifully through Katie’s illustrations. The sense of madness and how knowing that life is falling apart and needs to be mended is the strongest tone and voice of the book.

Sample 2

Most of the conditions come from our own society. I guess we place a lot of value on how one should look and what should the parameters me. I see a lot of young ones – teens mostly who are constantly worried about how much they eat and the next waist size they will reach to. The book is probably perfect for that audience – only because in a way it is about a life and what we learn as we go along.

Sample 3

Katie Green infuses life and tells her story the way it is meant to be – with great emotion and sensitivity. She distances herself and watches her story unfold and give it to the reader, the way it is – honestly and makes one belief that there is hope for all of us after all.

Affiliate Link:

Buy Lighter than My Shadow from Flipkart.com

Book Review: Division Street by Helen Mort

Division Street by Helen Mort Title: Division Street
Author: Helen Mort
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
ISBN: 9780701186845
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 80
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea. No author can claim to just get up and be a poet one fine day. There are poets that have been going on and there are some who surface and leave a mark like no other. On the other hand, there are also some who you may have never heard of and they lure you in with their words and emotions and you have no choice left, but to stay. For me this year, Helen Mort has been a discovery and I will in all probability go back to what she writes or has written and savor every single word of her well-spun poems.

“Division Street” is her latest collection of poems which is centred on the clash between striking miners and police to the conflict in personal relationships. She writes after a street in Sheffield, bringing to fore the site of conflict and how humans behave and react in times such as these. “Division Street” is just reflective of human nature. The incident could have taken place anywhere in the world and the emotions surging through would still be the same. That is what the power of good writing is – its universal appeal.

I am not a poetry fan and yet I found myself rereading most of these poems. It was difficult initially to get into the read however as I started liking the poems, it was a cake walk of a task. Poetry needs structure, just as much as prose and sometimes even more so. Mort manages to beautifully bring out the delicate elements of the poems and infuse it with reality. I loved this collection and most certainly will get back to it sometime next year. A must read for people who love poetry with an edge of its own.

Book Review: Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley Title: Clever Girl
Author: Tessa Hadley
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 9780224096522
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Tessa Hadley as a writer has a quiet way about her. Her books are not loud and neither are her characters. The stories told by her are subtle and have the sort of old-world charm to them, which is what attracts me the most to her books.

“Clever Girl” is about a woman and her life – told right from the 60s to today. That is probably the way this novel could be described and that to be very honest is just speaking about it on the surface. The story may not even seem that special to some, however it is mainly about the writing. It takes the reader to various places in a woman’s mind – right throughout her life – the incidents, the small heartaches, the big things and more, which are so inherent to this magnanimous piece of work.

The magic of the book lies in converting the mundane to something special. The everyday ordinary is just transformed to something special when it comes to Hadley’s words and the scenes she creates for the reader to soak in completely. Stella’s views, her perceptions, her prejudices, are all clearly laid out – right from her childhood to the time she is a grown woman. Tessa Hadley does not let go of a single moment, which is what binds you to the book, the way it does.

Clever Girl is not an easy book when it comes to reading or analysing and yet, the characters are complex and the story moves in the pace that one isn’t used to. Despite this, the book worked for me on so many levels. The writing reminded me of subtleties of life, the quiet way, the delicacy so to speak and that in itself is most comforting. The atypical narrative was only an added bonus. All in all I can say that read this book, only if you have some time and a few thoughts to spare. A book which will not disappoint you at all.