Book Reviews feat. Sarah Waters & Kim Gordon
Last month I read a musician's memoir, a dystopia I hauled just last week and added a new book to my 'favourites' shelf. What did you read during the month of August? Anything you'd recommend based on what I read?
the little stranger by sarah waters
FINISHED: 06/08/16 | PAGES: 499 | ISBN: 1844086062
One post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline. Its owners-mother, son, and daughter are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.
I desperately hoped to fall in love with this novel and my god did I! Waters' masterful storytelling sees her construct a story of crumbling aristocracy, with startling atmosphere and perfect pacing, in just under 500 pages. Told through the narration of the family doctor, Dr Faraday, we are privy to the lives of the Ayres family as forces threaten to collectively derail them. I'm definitely going to have to re-read this over the next couple of years as it's a book that begs to be buddy read and further dissected.
24, 48, hours post-read I was still haunted by Hundreds Hall and I don't think I'm likely to forget the many ways in which it came to embody the decay within those walls for a long while yet. If you're a fan of books like Rebecca, which Waters herself said she wishes she had written, you will love this. As you may have read in my latest book haul, I bought every other book of hers that I didn't already own off the back of enjoying this so much and I cannot wait to get stuck in!
girl in a band by kim gordon
FINISHED: 16/08/16 | PAGES: 274 | ISBN: 9780571309351
For many, Kim Gordon, vocalist, bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth, has always been the epitome of cool [...] In Girl in a Band, the famously reserved superstar speaks candidly about her past and the future. From her childhood in the sunbaked suburbs of Southern California, growing up with a mentally ill [...] to New York's downtown art and music scene in the eighties and nineties and the birth of a band that would pave the way for acts like Nirvana, as well as help inspire the Riot Grrl generation, here is an edgy and evocative portrait of a life in art.
As a fan of memoirs written by creative women, and a fan of Gordon's band Sonic Youth, it made sense for me to finally read Girl in a Band. I think one of the most notable things about Gordon, specifically, is how much more comfortable she seems to be when she talks about someone other than herself. She is forever mentioning other people, dropping a myriad of names that meant very little to me, and it's only once she opens up a little more throughout the course of this memoir that we come to realise that this is perhaps just one of the ways Gordon projects her sensitivities. She talks of some really troubled times in her life, such as her and Thurston's divorce and her brother's schizophrenia, and it's in these quiet little moments where we see just how many walls Gordon has built around herself. An interesting woman, indeed.
I, for the most part, enjoyed reading this memoir. It transported me to gigs at CBGB and the streets of New York and I loved reading about Sonic Youth behind the scenes. However, there were parts of this, particularly where Gordon would talk quite negatively about women, that made me feel uncomfortable as a reader. As such, I didn't enjoy it as much as Smith's Just Kids or Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl but I would still recommend it to fans of the band or fans of creative memoirs in general. Read it with Teen Age Riot on full volume. Bliss.
the postmortal by drew magary
FINISHED: 20/08/16 | PAGES: 369 | ISBN: 0143119826
John Farrell is about to get 'the cure'. Old age can never kill him now. The only problem is, everything else still can...Imagine a near future where a cure for aging is discovered and - after much political and moral debate - made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems - including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors.
As I predicted in my latest book haul post, The Postmortal didn't sit on my TBR shelf for very long! I read this in three reads and I think it's a book that lends itself to being read within a few sittings as it's quite fast paced. Told through diary entries, news roundups and articles, I felt that Magary did extremely well to flesh out decades of life in a scarily plausible dystopian world in just under 400 pages. A journalist himself, the articles and news roundups are naturally stronger than his aptitude for characterisation and storytelling. Story-wise it had a few flaws with a few plot points essentially wearing hard hats that said 'I am hear to advance the plot' they were that transparent. As a result of this, there wasn't as much emotional payoff in parts where there needed to be. The protagonist sometimes seemed to be able to brush traumatic situations off a little too easily and I know that can happen when you're living in a dystopian nightmare for years on end but it didn't quite sit right for me.
That said, I enjoyed this book. It was terrifying in its plausibility and I love how much it sparked my imagination. I could definitely read more about that world, that's for sure, and I'm looking forward to picking up Magary's latest offering The Hike at some point.