Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Two jolly good books

I recently read a couple of damn fine books and made a mental note to blog about them. The problem with mental notes is that they end up muddled and mixed in with all sorts of gubbins from my mind so I am unable to offer much in the way of constructive thinking. Ho hum, no reason not to say that I really liked them is there?

The first book is Luke and Jon by Robert Williams. It's now available in paperback for only £6.99 which is a bargain. It's one of those books that was originally marketed as Young Adult and is now Adult Fiction. (It's fairly meaningless but when I read it I certainly didn't feel I was reading a children's book, equally I thought that my 13 year old boys may enjoy it. Dylan has just begun it though he's a little wary in case it's too sad as I told him it was about a boy whose mum died.)

Anyway, the story is about a 13 year old boy and his relationships with his father, in the wake of his mother's death, and his friend Jon. It's not a showy book but it's full of calm, quiet truths. I'm not over keen on the phrase deceptively simple but, erm, yeah, this is. Williams creates a wonderful voice and a story with proper depth. He's good at capturing the difficulties of being a lad at school, and he's written a novel with real heart. Oh, and it totally sucked me in and toyed with my emotions. Yes, I may have shed a tear or two. 

"Eventually I got surer on my feet and looked up to see what was overhead. It was a trick I learned from my mum. She said that every now and again, walking your usual route through town or to school, you should look up as you travelled instead of straight ahead, that you would see things you hadn't seen before. And she was right. The first time I walked through our old town and lifted my head up I saw things I'd never noticed in a town I'd lived in all my life. In the forest the trees stretched high and higher into the sky, disappearing out of sight and there was only the odd glimpse of sky poking through the canopy. It felt like we were indoors; it reminded me of the church on the day of mum's funeral: ancient and powerful."

The second book is Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower Oh my goodness, if you're a short story fan and haven't yet read this collection then I envy you, for you must, you shall, and it will be fabulous. 


Wells Tower describes things in a gorgeously fresh way. His stories are drenched in images and unique perfect phrases. I am deeply envious of his talent. (The worst story, oddly, is the title story. It's absolute tosh and a real let down that is the last thing one reads. How strange.) 

"He scrambled along the spit of rock. The wind cut the stagnant dampness of the day and dried the sweat on his face and chest. He took the salt into his lungs and savored the pure itch in his chest. He touched the long grasses waving in the water like women's hair. He crouched to observe the barnacles, their tiny feathery hands combing blindly for invisible prey."

So, there ya go - two good books (coincidentally both with brownish covers.)



4 comments:

C.J.Flood said...

Hiya Sara,

'Luke and Jon' looks like a lovely book, and I liked what you said about the Young Adult/Adult distinction. That's just how I feel about it. It turns out my first novel will be marketed as YA though when I wrote it I just wrote it... Thanks for the recommendation.

dan powell said...

It might be a gender thing, but I thought the title story in the Wells Tower collection was the best story in it. It was the first one I read. heard really as I listened to a reading of it, then bought the collection.

While I liked the rest of the collection I didn't think anything else in there was a patch on Everything Ravaged. Maybe it's a boy thing? One thing is sure, I love the fact that the same collection can accomodate such different views, yet be equally well enjoyed by both parties.

Rachel Fenton said...

Between you and Dan... I have to read E R.

I like sad stuff, too, so maybe the other one as well, but then - my brother's called Luke and my husband's a Jon - maybe my emotions will be too easily trifled with...

Sara Crowley said...

Do I call you C.J now? I love the way you so casually remark on how your first novel will be marketed! Massive congratulations to you! And yeah, the YA thing is so much less rigid in bookshops now, lots of scope for crossover. I look forward to lots more about your book.

Dan - Oh! It's funny that it's your fave. A guy at work mentioned to me that he also felt it let the collection down so it's not entirely a gender thing, although I can see how it could be. And yeah, I'm not one for vikingy things I suppose. (And one of the character's crusted boogers remains forever imprinted in my mind - bleurgh!)

Rachel - Luke and Jon is a gentle story well worth a go. And EREB is a must read! Let me know what you think.

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