mini review: ‘She Must Be Mad’ by Charly Cox

4 stars

I don’t read much poetry, and would in no way consider myself knowledgeable enough to rate a collection in terms of how ‘good’ it is. But what I do know, is that it’s very rare that I find a poet I can fully understand, let alone connect with, but I felt both of these things whilst reading this collection.

I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest she’s ‘social media’s answer to Carol Ann Duffy’, but I think these poems will definitely appeal to many a millennial. Themes of love, mental health, body image, and even in one case – Trump, fill out this collection of poems ranging in form from traditional verse, to prose poetry.

Irregardless of this being a collection of poetry, I think this would appeal to fans of people like Lena Dunham, Caitlin Moran and Dolly Alderton. I’ve never read Rupi Kaur, but I would take a punt that fans of hers will like Charly Cox too.

Thank you to HQ for providing an ebook copy through Netgalley for an honest opinion

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mini review: ‘Gun Love’ by Jennifer Clement

Jennifer Clement - Gun Love

4 stars

Pearl is a character I will not forget in a hurry. Really enjoyed this one. Was reminded at times of ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’- and much like that novel, I feel the first two thirds are far stronger than the last. You can almost feel the author’s pace speeding up as they start to construct the end of the story, and it feels a little rushed perhaps? There was more ‘action’ in the final third than throughout the entire earlier part of the book. This didn’t really effect my enjoyment, but it was certainly a change enough for me to notice.

An almost magical realist/somewhat psychic element is utilised in Pearl and her mother in order to bring the conversation of gun violence to the forefront of this story, and I think this gives an interesting perspective on America’s current climate.

One thing I would say is that I query the focus placed on the fact that Pearl has albinism. I’m not sure this was at all integral to the story line, and it quite rightly shouldn’t have to be, but I worry the character was just given this trait in order to tick a diversity box… Does anyone else who’s read this feel the same?

Overall, not what I expected, but for me that’s almost always a positive!

I purchased the gorgeous US version of this for my shelves, but was also provided with an ebook version from Random House UK via Netgalley for an honest opinion.

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mini review: ‘The Future Won’t Be Long’ by Jarett Kobek

Image result for the future won't be long jarett kobek cover

3 stars

2.5ish stars.

Early on, I was loving this. Getting real ‘The Lonely Hearts Hotel’ vibe and all sorts. This book seemed charming, albeit in a depressing, calamitous kind of way.

Both everything and nothing happens. Adeline and Baby’s chance meeting at a squat in the first few pages creates a firm and dependable friendship. They spend years together, walking the streets getting high, watching cult movies, and partying with the likes of Brett Easton Ellis. There’s a lot of sex, drugs, rock-n-roll – and a bit of art.

The narration is split between Baby and Adeline, and is erratic and crammed full of tangents.

The Future Won’t Be Long is a satirical look at life in 80’s/90’s New York City. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and thankfully so, as our characters are far from loveable rogues. I felt this was unnecessarily long, and I lost interest around a third of the way through. Adeline sometimes talks directly to the reader, and she’s far fetched at best, so this was annoying to me.

If you’ve enjoyed ‘Rules of Attraction’; ‘I Love Dick’ or J. T. LeRoy’s ‘Sarah’ – I think there’s something here for you.

Thanks to Serpent’s Tail for my hardcover, and also to Netgalley for the ebook copy.

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mini review: ‘Sight’ by Jessie Greengrass

Sight

2 stars

If you like either Rachel Cusk or Gwendoline Riley, I’d take a punt that you’d enjoy this. I don’t particularly like Cusk from what I’ve read, and I certainly didn’t like ‘First Love’ by Riley, so this is unfortunate. This is at times insightful, and the writing is consistently ‘good’ – it just isn’t my type of novel. I felt a instant disconnect from our nameless narrator, and whilst I feel this is intentional, it made it hard for me to see the point in this book. Our narrator ruminates over different times in her life where she is a young child with a strange relationship with Grandmother ‘Doctor K’, a young woman caring for her ailing mother, a nervous expectant mother and a cautious first time mother. Interspersed throughout her musings of her life, our narrator also ponders on the lives of Freud and his daughter Anna, x-ray pioneer Wilhelm Röntgen and distinguished surgeon John Hunter. The inclusion of these real life’characters’ are intended to serve the narrative, but for me just highlight how week the real bones of this story are.

Thank you to John Murray and Netgalley for providing an eBook of this for an honest review.

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mini review: ‘Catalina’ by Liska Jacobs

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5 stars

Five stars is maybe a little generous, but this debut took me by complete surprise. An almost Greek tragedy set against the scalding and scandalous backdrop of contemporary LA, we follow the instantly unlikeable Elsa hitting a downward spiral. Sparked by being fired from her swanky New York museum job, she’s bitter and wistful for the married boss who is the cause of this sudden predicament. She’s a freshly dyed redhead, popping a cocktail of pills, and hooking up with bad boys on the beach. We know how this story goes right? But as it turns out, we don’t. This gets gritty and claustrophobic and takes unsettlingly compelling turns. Nauseatingly readable, this book is as hot a mess as Elsa herself. A brilliant novel.

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mini review: ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ by Carmen Maria Machado

Image result for her body and other parties

3 stars

2.5 stars.

I’m almost heartbroken I didn’t enjoy this as much as expected. I bought and read this in hardback, I was so certain. I was also provided with an ebook copy from Netgalley and Serpent’s Tail for review.

Great concepts, and undoubtedly beautifully written. I felt these were somber in nature, and the surrealism used in crafting them took away from the importance of the stories being told. Essentially, I think this should of been a more realist collection, because the topics deserved it. I don’t think the quirkiness did this collection any favours. Style over substance? Maybe.

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mini review: ‘A Line Becomes a River’ by Francisco Cantú

a line becomes a river

3 stars

Whilst I was continually intrigued by the premise of this book, and eager to hear from the unique standpoint Cantú speaks from, I’m sorry to say that I felt the first half of this rather dry and detached. Rather like the desert landscape and laddish culture he starts work among.

However, as Cantú begins to fall deeper down the rabbit hole that is his job, I began to get sucked in behind him. When he speaks from personal experience there is emotion there for sure.

Still I feel this occasionally gets bogged down in the facts and legalities, which are obviously very important, but it makes this quite a dense read.

Definitely would recommend this though. It’s a fascinating look at border relations from an informed and honest standpoint.

sign off heartJess