Book choice for September 2013

Life After Life [suggested by Cate Bale]

Life After Life

[Originally suggested in April 2013 - this entry copied from there]

Probably the newest book ever suggested for Chorlton Chapters (and therefore not to be confused with the 1975 book of the same title written by psychiatrist Raymond Moody), when first selected in April of this year this had only been out for exactly two weeks and has already garnered 410 ratings and 169 reviews on goodreads.

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, Ursula Beresford Todd (ikr!) is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves. [Product description from the author's website]

About the Author

Official Facebook page.
Wikipedia entry.
Author's website.

 

Shortlisted for this month

'Normal Rules' applied again to the selections this month. Cate's other suggestions were:

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451
[Originally suggested in October 2009 - this entry copied from there]

A dystopian novel authored by Ray Bradbury and first published in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 presents a future American society in which the masses are hedonistic, and critical thought through reading is outlawed. The central character, Guy Montag, is employed as a "fireman" (which, in this future, means "bookburner"). The number "451" refers to the temperature at which book paper auto-ignites. Although sources contemporary with the novel's writing gave the temperature as 450°C (842°F), Bradbury apparently thought "Fahrenheit" made for a better title. The "firemen" burn them "for the good of humanity". Written in the early years of the Cold War, the novel is a critique of what Bradbury saw as issues in American society of the era.

The concept started with Bradbury's short story "Bright Phoenix," written in 1947 but first published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963. The original short story was reworked into the novella, The Fireman, and published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. The novel was also serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of Playboy magazine. Bradbury wrote the entire novel on a pay typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library. His original intention in writing Fahrenheit 451 was to show his great love for books and libraries. He has often referred to Montag as an allusion to himself.

The above synopsis adapted from the book's Wikipedia page which continues to give a full summary of the plot. A movie was made in 1966 with an updated version slated for production in 2012.

About the Author

Ray Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter. He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.

His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences. Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury's masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden. In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state. Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind. In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays. His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.

The above is taken from the Biography section of the author's website, and naturally he also has a Wikipedia entry.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

On every level, this book is worthy of five stars. The story is original, touching and memorable. Budo (the narrator and main character) is a captivating mixture of innocence, childlike wisdom, love, wonder and fear. Matthew Green's characters are so vivid that they remain with the reader after the book is finished. Right from the opening page, the novel engaged my full attention, stirring up emotions that grew stronger as the story progressed. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a masterclass in storytelling.

Budo is the imaginary friend of a nine-year-old boy named Max. Though not explicitly stated, it is implied that Max suffers from some type of autistic-spectrum disorder: we are told that he is 'different'; Max's mother and father argue over whether or not to raise him as 'normal'; Max does not like to be touched; when faced with too many stimuli or choices, he becomes 'stuck', retreating into his inner universe and becoming unreachable for a period; at school, he is bullied because of his unorthodox way of relating to the world. Budo lives in constant fear of disappearing. Imaginary friends, you see, exist only as long as their imaginer believes in them. Having existed for five years, Budo is the oldest imaginary friend he knows. When Max is abducted from school, Budo witnesses the crime and recognises the abductor. He is unable to tell anyone, though, as Max is the only human who can see or hear him. Setting out on a quest to save Max, Budo enlists the help of other imaginary friends. These strange creatures come in an intoxicating array of forms, as imagined by their human creators. Budo's desire to save his friend is driven by two forces: (1) his transcendent love for Max; (2) his fear that Max might stop believing in him, which would lead to his vanishing into nonexistence. [Review from Amazon by HeavyMetalMonty (there is more)]

About the Author

As Matthew Green, the author of this work has no public presence. No website, no Wikipedia page, nothing. Nada. Not a sausage.

However, noticing that a search for the title of his work came up with several references to Matthew Dicks, I discovered that's his real name. He still doesn't have a Wikipedia page, but he does have a website where you can find some biographical information and also an explanation of why he's called Green in the UK.

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

2013

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2012

January February March April May June July August September October November

2011

January February March April May June July August September October November

2010

January February March April May June July August September October November

2009

January February March April May June July August September October November

2008

January February March April May June July August September October November

2007

January February March April May June July August September October November

2006

January February March April May June July August September October November