Why is upcoming such an ugly word? It almost seems Chaucerian, but not. I used to believe it was one of the nastiest words in the English language, but now its place of loathing in my heart has been replaced by the hideous phrase ‘going forward’. What does it even mean? I think it’s ‘in the future’ but essentially it’s a meaningless banging together of two perfectly serviceable words to make a phrase of extreme vileness. And it seems to be everywhere at present, driving me utterly insane.
Mini book reviews
The Valkyrie Song – Craig Russell, published by Hutchinson. An engrossing police procedural set in Hamburg. What can I say about this without falling victim to spoilers? Well, if you like Stieg Larsson, then Russell is a good author for you, although the violence against (and by) women in this novel is extreme, and can cause the same unsettling response that many people have felt to Larsson’s work (misogyny or empowerment – each reader must decide for themselves). Hamburg stands squarely, and not particularly beautifully, at the centre of this novel and if you want to explore cities through fiction this is a great depiction of the often less than lovely nature of much of Hamburg. Above all it’s a page turner, with some stellar plot elements that made me simultaneously sigh in frustration and smile in satisfaction. Recommended.
A Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrick, published by Abacus. An interesting voice here, with an omni point of view reminiscent of Poe or maybe Wilkie Collins. It’s described in the blurb as a gothic work, but actually the gothic elements do not exist as such, it’s the somewhat heated tone of the novel, set against the icy scenery that frames the narrative, that creates that heightened sense that often accompanies gothic tales. I found the voice fascinating, the plotting good, the characters a little stereotypical and the denouement unsatisfying, in that it uses several of the devices that appear in literature of the period it mimics, but without the shock value that their use would have offered at that time. In other words the ending felt a little clichéd to me. Still, you won’t waste your time on this one, it’s interesting writing and a richly textured take on a range of themes from love to redemption to life in the American hinterland at the turn of the century.
On Thursday I’m looking forward to the Myriad Books Suspense event at Hove Library, 18:30 for 19:00 – free entry, should be brilliant! Readings from some great local authors recently published by Myriad.
Then I’m with New Writing South at their Writers at Work! event at Jubilee Library on Saturday 19 June – I think that counts as an upcoming event, going forward?