Book Reviews: Fiction

The Map and the Territory
Michel Houellebecq
Last edited on: 15/10/2011 - 10:05

Michel Houellebecq is the enfant terrible of French fiction despite this sounding vaguely ridiculous for a man firmly entrenched in his fifth decade. His award-winning and hard-hitting novels tend to polarise opinion; there are familiar themes that span his oeurve - graphic sex and prostitution, ageing, genetics and cryogenics, tourism and consumerism.

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The Diary of a Nobody
George Grossmith et al
Last edited on: 05/03/2011 - 11:57

George and Weedon Grossmith's seminal classic The Diary of a Nobody is as pertinent today as it was when written in the 1880s in Victorian London. Like many great Victorian works, such as Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures, and Dickens' Mr Pickwick, The Diary of a Nobody was published in magazine serial form, and in its case, the fledgeling Punch periodical.

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The Unfixed Stars
Michael Byers
Last edited on: 06/02/2011 - 11:08

Michael Byers has crafted a fictionalised account of the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. Like many other recent works of fiction, including my reviewed Red Plenty by Francis Spufford, Byers has woven a tale of fiction around living characters. Also like Spufford's work, the characters are a long while deceased, enabling greater freedoms and literary license. Unlike Spufford however, Byers doesn't take the trouble to signpost to the reader where fact ends and fiction begins.

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Red Plenty
Francis Spufford
Last edited on: 22/01/2011 - 11:46

Red Plenty is not a work of fiction according to its author Francis Spufford. His very first words make that abundantly clear. The book charts the progress of the Soviet Union from the late 50s to the late 60s during a period of huge economic, political, ideological, sociological and technical change. Spufford has, like many of his contemporaries since it is the vogue thing to do, woven historically accurate figures from this period with figures invented from scratch, and some who are a synthesis of prominent contemporaneous individuals.

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