Book choice for October 2011

The House of Sleep [suggested by Uzma Ali]

front cover

Sarah is narcoleptic. Her inability to distinguish between dreams and waking reality gives rise to many misunderstandings. For Terry, a disillusioned film critic, sleep is merely a memory. For Dr Dunstan, sleep is nothing less than a global disease. Constructed to reflect the different stages of sleep, "The House of Sleep" is a brilliant and original comedy about the powers we acquire - and those we relinqish - when we fall asleep, and when we fall in love.

Review by M.L.York "Grammarian" writing on Amazon:
This is simply such an impressive book.

Coe writes about the one thing from which nobody can escape, and which nobody really talks about, and manages to put it at the centre of every character's life. All of his astonishingly vivid and separate characters - from the imaginative and solitary Terry to the disturbingly cold Dr Dudden - share sleep as something which changes their lives, and which eventually pushes them all back together, whether they like it or not.

The book contains everything you need to keep you hooked through every waking and sleeping moment - familiar characters (you'll see yourself in at least one of them!), an interesting plot and subject, a beatifully lucid writing style and the most intricately woven relationships since Wuthering Heights.

Each chapter inches the characters alternately further apart, and further together, as the book races effortlessly to the final lines.

Coe is marvellous, and his book is a dream to read.

About the Author

Wikipedia Entry.
Author's website.

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham in 1961. He has published seven novels, all of which are available in Penguin: The Accidental Woman, A Touch of Love, The Dwarves of Death, What a Carve Up!, which won the 1995 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The House of Sleep, which won the 1998 Prix Medicis Etranger, The Rotter's Club, winner of the Everyman Wodehouse Prize and The Closed Circle. He has also published a biography of the novelist B.S. Johnson, which won the Orwell prize in 2005. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

 

Shortlisted for this month

Book selectors can bring one, two or three books for selection, although it's usual to bring three. More than three stay in the selector's bag :o) This month Uzma's selections were:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Wikipedia page.
Much as this story was well written, full of clever and profound remarks about life, literature and art, much as it revealed the workings of an indisputably highly intelligent mind, there was a tone of arrogance strung through it from beginning to end that left me incapable of sympathizing with its characters. While the story depicts the richness of the inner world of the main character (the concierge) as opposed to the ignorance and prejudice of her residents, who constantly acted in the belief that they were superior to her, the narrator adopted the same tone of superiority towards them, in the self-same one-dimensional, arrogant, cold-bordering-on-hostile attitude. The pretense to lay claim to modesty when depicting how the concierge constantly sought to hide her true nature, was not at all convincing. There was something haughty and pretentious in the way the story was told, despite all its cleverness and profound thoughts, and that something left me cold. [Alma Lavandeery writing on Amazon]

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
Author's website.

In The Country of Last Things

In The Country of Last Things

Wikipedia page.
IMDb entry for film (in development since 2008).
'That is how it works in the City. Every time you think you know the answer to a question, you discover that the question makes no sense . . .' This is the story of Anna Blume and her journey to find her lost brother, William, in the unnamed City. Like the City itself, however, it is a journey that is doomed, and so all that is left is Anna's unwritten account of what happened. Paul Auster takes us to an unspecified and devastated world in which the self disappears amidst the horrors that surround us. But this is not just an imaginary, futuristic world - it is one that echoes our own, and in doing so addresses some of our darker legacies.

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
Author's website.

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
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November 2007
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