The loving-est story I ever read.

“The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeves carefully worked down inside Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own shirt, the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one. He pressed his face into the fabric and breathed in slowly through his mouth and nose, hoping for the faintest smoke and mountain sage and salty sweet stink of Jack but there was no real scent, only the memory of it, the imagined power of Brokeback Mountain of which nothing was left but what he held in his hands.”

And:

“There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

The most loving story I ever read; I made family and friends read it too – years before the movie, which I also enjoyed.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN by Annie Proulx

A review of “Never Let Me Go”

I hardly know how to rate this book. It’s a great book but – I didn’t like it. It cast an atmosphere over me every time I picked it up, and even appeared in a dream or two. And it left me with several questions.

The premise is this: Children/Clones are bred for the sole purpose of donating their organs when they reach thirty or so. They are brought up in special schools with Guardians and Teachers. They have  no contact with the outside world other than seeing delivery men, gardiners, postmen etc. When they are very young they are told of their future – and not told. They know – and they don’t know:

Since I went to a boarding school myself (but no boys) I could identify with the intensity of every little thing; the way every word and rumour is scrutinised for meaning and consequences; the importance given to the unimportant; the groups forming and re-forming, the conspiracies. At lessons the emphasis is on creativity; drawing and writing being particularly encouraged – why? This question, at least, is answered eventually. All the children read literature and philosophy and spend hours discussing these topics.

The main characters are Kathy and Ruth, best friends from their earliest memories which seem to begin when they are five years old. And later on, there’s Tommy, who forms the apex of a triangle which dominates their lives. When the book begins, Kathy is caring for Ruth who has just become a doner. The narrative goes back then to their childhood, and is riveting! This book is a page-turner for sure. Kathy is like Darrell Rivers in “Malory Towers” (if anyone else remembers that far back), a good, caring girl with a big heart. Ruth is devious and controlling, and Tommy needs a good shake, but each in her, or his, own way is loyal to the others.

When they grow into teenagers they are moved to other homes, in smaller groups; they know what is coming but they never speak of it.

“By that time in our lives, we no longer shrank from the subject of donations . . . but neither did we think about it very seriously, or discuss it.”

Apart from the fact that they are sterile, they are the same as other young people, although sex is treated in a very matter of fact way; no coyness, no mystery, no romance, no future either. Relationships form, break-up and begin again.

Right from the beginning there is an undercurrent of uneasiness, an unspoken fear which works its way into the readers minds. It did to mine anyway! And you care about these characters. Is there no way out of their terrible future? Have they no choices? This book is a great read and, of course, the writing is impeccable. I love Kazuo Ishiguro and I am obliged to give it full marks even though I didn’t like it.

A review of “Iron Lake” by William Kent Kreuger

So, I was looking forward to reading this book as it had been highly recommended, and I did like it, but not as much as I expected. To begin with the main character Cork O’Connor is interesting and likable. He is part American Indian and there are quite a lot of American Indian characters in the book, known collectively as “the people” which interested me very much as I know nothing of their culture.

The story is gripping from the off – incomprehensible murders, a wealthy politician, a crumbling marriage, a sweet love story – and secrets and silence everywhere. An occasional mention of a supernatural element adds to the whole but doesn’t intrude. There’s an easygoing quality as well, and many back stories, but they are so engaging – and easygoing doesn’t mean slow.

However. nearing the end of the book I found that some situations were very contrived to allow the hero to unravel the mystery. Also, the denouement is very drawn out and quite boring. It was disappointing after so good a story.

There isn’t any quotable dialogue here but the pace and shape of the story is good.

http://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethmerry

20 Authors no one reads any more!

Taylor Caldwell – many great big books – “Dear and Glorious Physician” might ring a bell.

Denis Wheatley – quite a few dealing with the supernatural – “The Devil Rides Out” had me terrified for months!

James A Michener – his books were huge; many of them were made into movies; “Hawaii” being one of them. They were huge family sagas, involving many generations.

Wilkie Collins – the first author to write detective stories, notably “The Woman in White” and “The Moonstone”. Himself and Dickens were friends but he has been forgotten now.

James Clavell – I read and loved all his books; they were big books; I mentioned “Shogun” in the Large Books list. But they contained whole other worlds to get lost in and were so readable.

Somerset Maugham – he wrote many books and some became movies too – “The Razor’s Edge” and “Of Human Bondage” come to mind straight away. His short stories were unforgettable.

Graham Greene – again, many of his novels were turned into movies but no one seems to read the books any more, and they were great.

Frank Yerby – historical, colourful, and great fun, set in America’s deep south.

Maurice Walsh – the Irish writer from Kerry, responsible for one famous movie – “The Quiet Man”. It was a short story in a collection called “Green Rushes”. He wrote many books, all very romantic and all set in Ireland or Scotland.

Evelyn Waugh – who wrote “Brideshead Revisited” which was made into that wonderful, beautiful series. He also wrote many very funny books.

Henry James – I love Henry James; he’s old-fashioned of course but the novels are so good. Also made into many films – “Portrait of a Lady” “Washington Square” and “The Turn of the Screw”.

E M Forster – it’s becoming difficult to find an author whose books were NOT turned into movies! I’ll only mention my favourite one of his – “A Room with a View”.

D K Broster – no movies! He was a Scottish writer who wrote a trilogy of historical novels, all set in Scotland – very romantic!

I’ll just mention a couple of romantic novelists from my youth – I’m quite sure today’s young ones would find them hilarious: Denise Robins, Ethel M Dell, Barbara Cartland.

And a couple of detective writers – Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie – does anyone read her books any more? So many glossy movies.

http://amazon.com/author/elizabethmerry

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