David Mitchell on ideas and characters in his new book

Just been to see David Mitchell read from his new novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet at Shoreditch House. Readings are always a little weird, bits of text disenfranchised from their home-novel, and the author never seems to know whether to show literary firepower with big bits of description or to create motionContinue reading “David Mitchell on ideas and characters in his new book”

Added to the wishlist: The Age of Absurdity

Reviewed in The Guardian: “Foley is not one for the “fatuous breeziness” of bullet-pointed self-help manuals or the nostrums of the new science of wellbeing… Here are Christ and Buddha, Marx and Freud, Spinoza and Nietzsche, Joyce and Proust, mixing it with brain experts Pinker and Rose. It’s not so much a trawl of greatContinue reading “Added to the wishlist: The Age of Absurdity”

Added to the wishlist: The Lost Books of the Odyssey

Previewed in the New York Times: “The Lost Books of the Odyssey purports to be a compilation of 44 alternate versions of Homer’s epic… In some of the alternate histories Odysseus returns to Ithaca only to find the island abandoned, or Penelope a ghost or married to a man who is “soft, grey and heavy.”Continue reading “Added to the wishlist: The Lost Books of the Odyssey”

On Grief, and the Year of Her Magical Thinking

And so, the second book of the year becomes a DNF. When I closed The Year of Magical Thinking – perhaps the 21st century’s most highly praised book on death – this evening, around page 120, I knew I wasn’t going to re-open it. Highly praised, but I just didn’t get it; indeed, I found itContinue reading “On Grief, and the Year of Her Magical Thinking”

Books I’ve Read, 2010

Previously: 2005 and 2006 2007 2008 2009 Starting the reading for 2010 a little late; it took me a while to finish Richard Holmes’ Age of Wonder, which is both excellent and substantial. As per usual, this post will be updated throughout the year with brief impressions of the books and a slightly less thanContinue reading “Books I’ve Read, 2010”

My Year in Books, 2009

Previously: 2006 – 25 books, 28% non-fiction, and my book of the year was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. 2007 – 24 books, 33% non-fiction, far fewer contemporary novels, and my pick of the year was Crime and Punishment. 2008 – 22 books, 54% non-fiction, all but one of the novels were contemporary. BestContinue reading “My Year in Books, 2009”

Added to the wishlist: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

[Book] How could it not be? The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet is the new one from David Mitchell, my favourite living author. It sees Mitchell’s fiction returning to Japan – site of the many of the stories in his first book, Ghostwritten, and a place that helped shape him as a writer: “InContinue reading “Added to the wishlist: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet”

Added to the wishlist: The Alchemy of Stone

[Book] via io9’s 20 Best Science Fiction Books of the Decade, The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia: With a face made of porcelain, a wind-up heart, and a talent for alchemy, Mattie is hardly a typical science fictional robot. While most novels about robots focus on how these humanoid machines are stronger and smarterContinue reading “Added to the wishlist: The Alchemy of Stone”

TS Eliot’s Facebook status

“Eliot’s description of himself as ‘within measurable distance of the end of my tether’ combines distress with elegance,” says a review of the new volume of the poet’s letters. Had Eliot had the chance to use Facebook or Twitter, that kind of remark would make a perfect update. [via terrific book blog, The Second Pass]

Added to the wishlist: The Cello Suites

[Book] Via the indomitable Tyler Cowen’s short but sweet Books of the Year post: “A very good gift book is Eric Siblin’s new The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece.  It signals the sophistication of both the giver and receiver and yet it is short and entertaining enoughContinue reading “Added to the wishlist: The Cello Suites”