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What I’m Reading: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

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TITLE | We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

AUTHOR | Karen Joy Fowler

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Wholly original in concept and voice — jaunty, smart and heartbreaking — this is one of my tops reads of the year.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys witty yet emotionally gripping work, especially in the context of complicated family relationships.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

“One day, a package of junior-sized tampons was left on my bed along with a pamphlet that looked technical and boring, so I didn’t read it. Nothing was ever said to me about tampons. It was just blind luck that I didn’t smoke them.”

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What I’m Reading: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

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TITLE | This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

AUTHOR | Ann Patchett

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | A vibrant and moving portrait of love, friendship, work, and the writing life.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I found her observations on writing as a profession at once consoling and encouraging.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | I would have liked more essays on her writing philosophy and process, but that’s just me.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who appreciates a witty, elegant collection of personal essays.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

“The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living. My short stories and novels have always filled my life with meaning, but, at least in the first decade of my career, they were no more capable of supporting me than my dog was. But part of what I love about both novels and dogs is that they are so beautifully oblivious to economic concerns. We serve them, and in return they thrive. It isn’t their responsibility to figure out where the rent is coming from.”

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Future Fuschia, an interview about Why You Were Taken

JT Lawrence’s latest book Why You Were Taken paints the South Africa of 2021 as a difficult place for a person who knows his or her own mind. It’s an invigorating, bracing vision by a very talented storyteller.” — Bruce Dennill

I loved Dennill’s tough and insightful questions. Read the interview here. 

Future Fuschia -- pArticipate

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Still life with #whyyouweretaken

Why You Were Taken
Why You Were Taken

A Parkhurst artist used my novel ‘Why You Were Taken’ is his latest piece. I think it is super cool. For more of Richard’s work check out his Facebook page.

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#flashreview: The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers

TITLE | The Sisters Brothers

AUTHOR | Patrick DeWitt

STAR RATING | 4.5

ABOUT | An unforgettable tour de force tale — wearing a cowboy hat — about a pair of mismatched brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | The complex and compelling narration, and the eccentric cast of characters. Funny, brutal, and ultimately beautiful — I will read anything that DeWitt writes.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | That there isn’t a Coen brothers film adaptation.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who doesn’t like Westerns. This redeems the genre in every way.

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What I’m Reading: I Am Pilgrim

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TITLE | I Am Pilgrim

AUTHOR | Terry Hayes

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | A former intelligence agent who wrote a book on forensic pathology becomes involved in a case where someone uses his book to commit untraceable murders.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | It’s a smart, satisfying, ambitious thriller. Technically it’s a debut novel but scriptwriter Hayes is an accomplished storyteller. The pages turned themselves.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | It is a bit US-propaganda-ish and I believe the editor could have been a little more ruthless in cutting out extraneous detail and author intrusions.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys full-tilt, action-packed thrillers.

FAVOURITE QUOTE |

‘What are you doing?’ he asked, leaning against the door frame, so tired his face looked like an unmade bed.

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What I’m Reading: Blood, Bones & Butter

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TITLE | Blood, Bones & Butter

AUTHOR | Gabrielle Hamilton

STAR RATING | 4

ABOUT | Gabrielle’s unconventional journey through the kitchens she inhabited through the years before opening her acclaimed New York restaurant ‘Prune.’

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I don’t think I’ve ever read a more authentic, gritty (yet tender) memoir before. In addition to that — she writes so beautifully — Hamilton’s prose deserves a Michelin star.

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | The scene about the rat. It was an important scene and she was right to include it, but I’ve had a nightmare or two since reading it.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who loves authentic cooking and/or writing, especially if they are interested in Italy and Italian cuisine.

FAVOURITE QUOTE | So many — but here is one from the first chapter (p.7), when she is describing her mother:

She lived in our kitchen, ruled the house with an oily wooden spoon in her hand, and forced us to eat dark, briny wrinkled olives, small birds we would have liked as pets, and cheeses that looked like they might well bear Legionnaire’s Disease.

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Pens Behaving (not so) Badly

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Paige Nick, author of ‘A Million Miles from Normal,’ ‘This Way Up,’  ‘A Girl Walks into a Bar’ and her latest ‘Pens Behaving Badly’ was kind enough to post her review of my latest novel ‘Why You Were Taken’ on the fabulous Facebook book club The Good Book Appreciation Society.

It’s a goodie. Thank you Paige!

… It’s mostly set in a futuristic Joburg in 2021. Infertility is an epidemic. They have inflatable motorbike helmets and schmeat. Kirsten is a synaesthete (which means she hears and sees in colours and numbers because her senses get jumbled) with a fertility problem. And Seth is a hot-shot chemgineer who works for an underground biopunk truth organisation.

It’s a tightly wound and imaginative thriller. An enjoyable read that ticks along quickly and raises some really thought-provoking and terrifying questions about population growth and the future of bio/chemical/gene engineering.

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What I’m Reading: The Crimson Petal and the White

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TITLE | The Crimson Petal and the White

AUTHOR | Michel Faber

STAR RATING | 5

ABOUT | Sugar, s 19-year-old prostitute in Victorian London who years for a better life.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Its glorious sweep and subtlety. I fell for Sugar on page 28 and was in love by page 894. (Yes, it’s 894 pages long, and not one page is extraneous.)

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | That it ended.

WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys Victoriana or a cocky heroine with big ideas and a heart to match them.

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Feed Your Brain

seymour

I have a new Buzzfeed post up! Check it out if you like. Here’s the intro:

Feed Your Brain: 21 Ways to Find More Time to Read

I want to stick a fork in my eye when people tell me they ‘love reading’ but just don’t have the time. Life is so bloody exciting with all this sitting at my desk and looking at the Facebook and the Twitter. I get it. Who has time for anything anymore?

I want to take you (firmly, but not unkindly) aside. Your brain is starving, I want to say.Your brain is like the carnivorous plant in the Little Shop of Horrors.

I know all that! I can hear you yelling from behind your smarty-pants handheld devices. I know it’s good for me but where do I find the TIME? Well, here are some lifestyle hacks that will up your reading consumption, which will in turn help me to keep my eyeballs intact.

You’re welcome. [continued]