What We're Reading

Neil's picture
Neil

The One Inside, by Sam Shepard (Vintage US 2017)

In this dreamlike narrative, an elderly man lies awake, remembering his life and past tragedy, in snatches of imagery, conversations and internal monologue. It's mysterious and enigmatic, confusing, but also written with elegance and poetry, and is very evocative of the American South West.

Neil's picture
Neil

Light Perpetual, by Francis Spufford (Faber 2021)

Light Perpetual is on the 2021 Booker Prize Longlist, and is a dazzlingly original work by one of Britains most inventive contemporary writers. It reminded me of William Boyd's Any Human Heart, Paul Auster's 4 3 2 1, and Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin. It's an epic novel, spanning 65 years from 1944 to 2009, following 5 characters from young children, and visiting them each for a day in 1949, 1964, 1979, 1994, and finally 2009. They interweave each others lives as they deal with the travails of the 20th Century.

Neil's picture
Neil

My Mother and Other Secrets, by Wendyl Nissen (Allen & Unwin 2021)

A compelling and moving book in which Wendyl Nissen applies a journalistic rigour to an investigation of her family history, and uncovers some extraordinary secrets. From appalling parenting, sad adoptions, loss, grief, and generally poor behaviour! It's a remarkably effecting and honest look at family life and its impact, adoption and its legacy, dementia and its destructive power. It ends with an extremely useful Hints and Tips section, including advice on Advance Directives and Advance Values statements.

Neil's picture
Neil

Dark Star Safari: Overland From Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux (Penguin 2003)

Paul Theroux returns to Africa 40 years after living in Uganda and Malawi and reports on current conditions there. He both loves and hates Africa, and has a lot to love and hate while travelling overland, mostly by train, through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and finally South Africa, It's an epic journey, full of delays and complications, but Theroux is nothing if not a capable traveller, and he writes well about local characters, other travellers and the landscape.

Neil's picture
Neil

Crossing the Shadow Line: Travels in South East Asia, by Andrew Eames (Sceptre 1988)

Andrew Eames was under the spell of Joseph Conrad when he set out as a naive graduate to spend 2 years exploring Asia. He had many adventures in Thailand, Laos Malaysia, India, the Timor Sea and the Himalaya. Eames is an intelligent, observant and compassionate traveller, intrepid or foolhardy by turns, and the reader has a sense of his coming of age. The journey changes him, as all good journeys should, and he is honest about himself and other travellers, while also being amusing and thought provoking. Worth seeking out.

Neil's picture
Neil

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, by Patrick Leigh Fermor (NYRB Classics 2006, originally published 1958)

This densely informative, digressive, elegantly written travel book and history of the southern tip of Greece, the remote Peloponnese, is deservedly a classic, and typical of Patrick Leigh Fermor's oeuvre. Mani, and its companion Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece, have been described as 'two of the best ravel books of the century'.