Remembering Terry Pratchett

Two and a half months ago, Terry Pratchett passed away. I didn’t say, or write much about it at the time. It felt wrong to expound upon my feelings about the man. Despite the fact that he’s my favourite author. Despite the fact that my bookshelves are still laden with his books (and associated Discworld…

Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee

The Nobel Prize winning Diary of a Bad Year is a structurally unique piece of reflexivity, presented as three distinct texts combined on each page: the first, a piece of left-wing political commentary true to the Howard/Bush/Guantanamo Bay era; the second, the inner thoughts of the author of that commentary, “Señor C” (a barely-disguised analogue…

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

The metaphor at the heart of Cat’s Cradle is the titular cat’s cradle, a mess of string criss-crossing into a web of X’s. But why the name? Where’s the cat? Where’s the cradle? This confusion and disarray represents the post-war politics of the time, the mess of religion and morals and science strung up by…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is the third novel in just over twenty years from Donna Tartt, an author whose first novel The Secret History remains one of my favourite books of all time. The Goldfinch is an inspired, excellent work with much in common with her debut, even if it’s not quite on the same level. Like…

Invisible Monsters

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club – through Tyler Durden – stated that “self-improvement is masturbation. Now, self-destruction…” Invisible Monsters – written before Fight Club but released afterwards – is a novel expanding upon that idea, arguing that self-improvement and self-destruction are one and the same, each as solipsistic as pleasuring one self. The unnamed narrator of…

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

One of my favourite novels is Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, a document that posits a futuristic dystopia where books and liberty alike are immolated in streams of fire. It’s touching and prescient and achingly well-written. It’s also founded on a belief that I reject, the notion that television is an ignorance-inducing tool of slavery. Bradbury’s…

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian is a fitting title for Cormac McCarthy’s brutal anti-western. The book is heavy with blood, thick streams of the arterial liquid pooling and coagulating at its dark heart. McCarthy wields words like a surgeon’s blade, finding spare beauty in unforgiving landscapes lit by blue flashes of lightning or unforgiving men unleashing violence for…