Short Reviews October 2019

Back in the ‘real world’ after completing my Masters, I am catching up on short reviews of my reading this year. It has been quite a mix – fiction, non-fiction and YA – some related to my coursework, some a complete escape. Here is the first batch:

A Whole Life – Robert Seethaler

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I had this book on my to-be-read list for a long time, when I worked in a bookshop it received glowing reviews from staff and customers alike. I finally got around to it after a friend lent me a copy. I should not have waited so long! This is an atmospheric and compelling read, not my usual kind of read, but utterly enthralling. The writing is as beautiful as the cover, and I was so moved by Andreas Egger’s story. A quiet and tender story about a man’s life, his relationship with the land, and with solitude. One that lingers.

Promising Young Women – Caroline O’Donoghue

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I was very excited to read Caroline O’Donoghue’s debut novel. I love her podcast Sentimental Garbage (if you haven’t heard it yet, check it out here) and the book had been receiving brilliant reviews. What initially begins as contemporary fiction takes on a distinctly gothic feel, and it is a chilling insight into the damage abusive relationships can cause, and the cost of being a promising young woman. Unputdownable, and unforgettable.

Proud – edited by Juno Dawson

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An anthology of stories and poetry by a selection of writers, each with a black-and-white illustration. A wonderful mix of queer stories, a book I wish had been around when I was a teenager. My two favourite pieces were Moira Fowley-Doyle’s ‘Love Poems to the City’ (particularly poignant for me given its links to Dublin and to recent referenda here, and I adore Fowley-Doyle’s use of language) and Karen Lawler’s ‘I Hate Darcy Pemberley’, a contemporary f/f take on Pride and Prejudice with a strong voice. I think this is an enjoyable read, and one that will mean a lot to young LGBTQIA+ readers.

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir – Marina Abramovic

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This book had been on my list for a while, and I gave a presentation on Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present’ to justify reading it during my Masters! While Abramovic’s perspective on many of the events described is undoubtedly biased, the background this gave to some of her famous performances was invaluable, and I felt I gained a lot of insight into both the artist and her work. Highly recommended to fans of contemporary art, or those who want to learn more about this iconic ‘grandmother of performance art.’

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books, or any reading recommendations you have!

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