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Book review: <i>Choke</i> by Chuck Palahniuk



Ever wondered about the motivations of a screwed up sex addict with a penchant for making people feel needed and a need to be loved? Choke is a tale of addiction, mothers, best friends, faking the eighteenth century, and weird doctors—with a little bit of religion thrown in.

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Book review: <i>Survivor</i> by Chuck Palahniuk



Flight 2039 has a couple of hours before it crashes into the earth. And on that flight is a man, recording his life story into the black box. Chuck Palahniuk at his finest.

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Book review: <i>You Shall Know Our Velocity</i> by David Eggers



If this was litter, it would be a hundred American dollars in a filthy wad with half an East-European Snickers glued to it.

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Book review: <i>The Rum Diary</i> by Hunter S. Thompson



The Rum Diary is a sweaty lusty booze-filled Caribbean odyssey.

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Book review: <i>Lullaby</i> by Chuck Palahniuk



They say that the first sentence of a novel is the most important; most people who pick a book up in a bookstore will head straight to the first page to see what the sentence is as a judgment of whether to read it or not. And I tell you, Chuck Palahniuk is the master of the first sentence. And paragraph, for that matter. You are completely sucked in before you know what’s what.

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Book review: <i>Bear v. Shark</i> by Chris Bachelder



If this was an art installation, it would be a functioning concept-SUV made out of tofu.

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Book review: <i>In The Pond</i> by Ha Jin



Some people are entirely happy with their lot in life; with work and a roof over their heads and a decent meal they can be satisfied. Some people live lives of quiet dissatisfaction. And some people have a way to strike back. Such is the political and very entertaining tale of Shao Bin, Harvest Fertilizer Plant worker by day, artist by night, who takes of the corrupt powers that be.

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Book review: <i>Middlesex</i> by Jeffrey Eugenides



For me, Middlesex is one of those rare and wondrous stories which is so richly created and so complex that I would be afraid to try and sum it up because I would invariably miss out something important. It is historical, mythological, generational, deeply personal, and extremely thought provoking. It is also fabulously well written.

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Book review: <i>Survivor</i> by Chuck Palahniuk



You know when you read a novel and get disappointed particularly because the blurb made it sound so damn great?!?

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Book review: <i>Catch-22</i> by Joseph Heller



If this was adapted as a sitcom after its first printing in 1961, it would have become Hogan’s Heroes. Does all mainstream satire eventually become a joke about itself? Discuss.

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Book review: <i>It’s What He Would’ve Wanted</i> by Sean Hughes



If this was a drink, it would be the fifth afternoon pint by yourself in a pub when the endorphin buzz has been well and truly supplanted by fatigue and you suddenly realise you’d rather be nearly anywhere else, if you had anywhere else to be, but you don’t, and on the other hand you’ve just paid for this beer, haven’t you?

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Book review: <i>El Infierno</i> by Carlos Martinez Moreno



Stopped

Okay, so I didn't get through this one. It's not because it isn't good. It could be because too many mainstream thrillers have desicated my brain like a coconut. It could be that I just can't face this brand of highbrow literature in the heat. Or it could be that I just don't feel like finishing it right now. Whatever the case, I have a feeling that "It's not you, it's me" would be the correct thing to say to El Infierno, and one day I might pick it up again and have another go. When I'm feeling more intellectual, and the weather is cooler and more conducive to thought, perhaps.

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Book review: <i>American Tabloid</i> by James Ellroy



I don’t think the thrill of a good conspiracy can be underestimated. And, while the Kennedy era and the surrounding assassination, drugs, mafia, CIA/FBI, Cuba and, a bit later, Vietnam aren’t quite the dinner party circuit agenda, they were not so long ago and they still hold a spark of interest for a good couple of generations of people. Take me as an example, for instance. I was born in 1980, well after the whole malarkey. But, I still know the names of the Kennedy brothers and their assassins, and Jimmy Hoffa, and an entire selection of corrupt government officials. I’ve heard the speculation. I’ve seen the movies. And nothing has grabbed me quite so much as James Ellroy’s take on the whole thing. I know it’s fictitious speculation. That doesn’t stop it from being a dirty, rollicking thrill of a read with a cast of duplicitous double agents and their complex juggling of events. In fact, one of the most admirable traits of the book is how much behind the scenes action occurs in concert with the facts.

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Book review: <i>Lunar Park</i> by Bret Easton Ellis



If this was a coffee table book, it would be some really well-presented, kick-ass black and white photos that show American suburbia as Manhattan, hell, and a family album, but in which the models are perhaps a little bit too handsome, well-dressed and classically framed.

Book review: <i>Bad Boy Brawly Brown</i> by Walter Mosley



When a man has lived the way Easy Rawlins has—flirting with the wrong side of the law his whole life (or at least in the six previous Easy Rawlins books)—it’s time for him to settle down. He has responsibilities: Bonnie, his beautiful girlfriend. Jesus and Feather, his adopted kids. Even Frenchie, Feather’s little yellow dog who hates him, is a kind of responsibility. He has a good job and a good home and his best friend’s death on his conscience. And... Walter Mosley’s done it again.

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Book review: <i>Gould’s Book of Fish</i> by Richard Flanagan



If this was a painting, it would be a gorgeous watercolour painting of a fish, seemingly untouched by time, found in a deceased elder relative’s attic, which, when investigated, turns out to be: A- created by a known convict using the bodily excretions of his rotting cell-mate’s corpse, and B- worth buckets of money.

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Book review: <i>The Black Dahlia</i> by James Ellroy



The Black Dahlia and the last book I reviewed, Eureka, have some interesting superficial similarities. Firstly, they are both set, for at least part of the time, in the mid 1940s. They are both set in Los Angeles during that time. The protaganist in both is a police officer (both are written mainly in the first person) and the plot line in both focuses on the death of a woman which the protaganist gets a bit obsessive about and is willing to go above and beyond to solve the mystery. However, for all the similarities, Eureka and The Black Dahlia couldn't be more different when it comes to the crunch. Why? Because that would be like comparing a dry cracker to a three course meal.

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Book review: <i>Waiting</i> by Ha Jin



Nothing says love like waiting eighteen years for your boyfriend (who you’ve never even kissed) to divorce his wife and marry you. Really. Waiting is the heartbreaking tale of a man and a woman and another woman, living in China and making sure they adhere to the regulations of the communist party and the conventions of everyday life. Ha Jin manages to describe the utterly foreign (to me, anyway) experience of living in communist China, but he also manages to make it seem commonplace, interesting and alive all at once.

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Book review: <i>Just A Corpse At Twilight</i> by Janwillem van de Wetering



Apparently this little gem is the twelfth book in the Grijpstra and DeGrier Mystery series (I can just manage to pronounce DeGrier, but I can’t even begin to vocalise Grijpstra), which follows two Dutch detectives going about their business in a manner that is extremely read-worthy. Just A Corpse At Twilight is well written with a decent plot and manages to convey the constant message that it isn’t just another murder mystery police novel. And if all this hasn’t convinced you, the back flap of the book jacket contains a photo of the writer, and one look at him should convince you that this will be an interesting read indeed.

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