Saturday Selection

Another busy week! Thank goodness I have nothing booked in for the next fortnight – even for half term, except for promising my daughter a London trip to Camden market.

Monday night was my Book Group – this month we read The Amber Fury (aka The Furies) by Natalie Haynes.

I read this book last year and reviewed it here and saw her talk about it at the Oxford Literary Festival – here. Everyone really enjoyed it. We thought the characters were well done, the setting felt real and all the Greek myths therein were used brilliantly.


Thursday night was down to London, where I met up with Jackie and Kim at Faber’s fiction showcase.

The star attraction was Kazuo Ishiguro, or Ish as he is known. No sooner had we got installed with drinks than Rachel from Faber brought him over to meet us – lovely man. He was slightly perplexed over blogging and the intercommunication between us all, but we were onto safer ground talking about book groups – he talked about his wife’s one. I will be reviewing The Buried Giant for Shiny New Books in April.

I also chatted with the handsome Welshman Owen Sheers about the Mabinogion retellings from Seren books which he contributed to. He has a new book out in June called I Saw a Man which sounds utterly gripping from the extract he read. He signed a copy of the proof for me – the first to ask – I am privileged. You’ll have to wait several months for my thoughts on the book though.

Also there were Andrew O’Hagan, who read brilliantly from his new novel The Illuminations which is currently R4’s Book at Bedtime, and KateHamer – debut novelist of a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood as a contemporary thriller The Girl in the Red Coat. Sarah Hall would have been there too to read from her new novel The Wolf Border, but couldn’t make it sadly.


Friday night was Mostly Bookbrains 6.  This year, the Wednesday evening Bookgroup from Mostly Books took over the mantle of compiling the questions, allowing me to be in a team with Simon and all his lovely friends. It was lovely to be on the other side for a change, and, dear reader – We won!!!


I’d like to finish by highlighting my two reviews in the Non-Fiction section of Shiny New Books’ new issue…

Armchair Nation by Joe Moran

Moran is becoming one of our foremost cultural historians of the twentieth century. His history of the googlebox in Britain goes right from its inception and promotion by Mr Selfridge himself through to The X-Factor via the new upstart ITV and Mary Whitehouse.

Absolutely fascinating, full of impeccable research from TV and news archives, Mass Observation and more.

Read my full review here.


Where I’m Reading From by Tim Parks

We all love books about books, and Tim Parks collection of essays (originally published in The New Yorker) is essentially one long opinion piece.

Divided into four sections covering the worlds of literature, reading, writing and translation, Parks, an English novelist, translator and university lecturer makes a lively companion.  I didn’t agree with all of his views (cf e-readers!) but found the essays entertaining and thought-provoking. I particularly enjoyed the section devoted to the world of translation, which gave me many new insights.

Read my full review here.


So that’s my week – how has yours been?

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15 thoughts on “Saturday Selection

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Well done on winning the quiz! I have read neither Sheers or O’Hagen but have often wanted to – they’ve presented some excellent TV arts progs, particularly Sheers’ poetry ones – well done on getting the lovely signed proof! 🙂

    • Annabel (gaskella) says:

      I’ve managed to miss Sheers’ poetry programmes, but he was lovely. O’Hagan had an air of supreme confidence (his Scottishness I’d wager!) and I was watching as he read from his book. Sounding very like Bill Patterson, and leaning against the lecturn, he was on tiptoes all the time – from the ball of one foot to the other – heel never on the ground, kept him towards the audience (never on the back foot – pun intended).

  2. David Nolan (David73277) says:

    Wow, you’ve met Ishiguro. I’ve liked some of his books and loathed others: the highlly experimental The Unconsoled falling into the loathed category.

  3. crimeworm says:

    I thought your week sounded pretty good, but when I got to the Andrew O’Hagan mention my jealousy levels soared! He’s SO talented, and as a boy from an Ayrshire council scheme, he’s proved you can be a massive literary success (does he still edit the LRB?) I can’t wait to read The Illuminations, but til then, I’ve been listening to it on Radio 4. The fact he’s a rather handsome chap doesn’t do any harm either…!

    • David Nolan (David73277) says:

      The word “handsome” has now been applied to two of the authors at this event. Charm, good looks and successful careers: some guys have all the luck 😉

  4. Harriet Devine says:

    Sounds like a fun week. I am always so sorry to miss these publishers’ events — hopefully one day one will coincide with my being in London. I read Owen Sheers’ first novel, can’t remember the title, and thought it was wonderful. Lucky you meeting him and getting the signed proof!

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