The latter part of 2011 was crammed with so many big book releases that just to think of them was tiring. In early September my ‘to read’ books were stacked in a thick but reasonable pile; by December the ‘pile’ resembled a shoddily built skyscraper, enormous and keening this way and that at the slightest disturbance. There were simply too many books and not enough time. I sort of hoped that the first months of 2012 would afford me the chance to recover and make a significant dent in The Great Tower Of The Unread before Murakami and Eugenides in hardcover toppled onto my head one night while I was sleeping.
Fat chance. February will do nothing but set back my progress with a host of new releases I MUST have, major concussion be damned!
Anyway, here are five books for the coming month that I think you need to know about.
YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.
I’m not sure what else to say. I was sent an advance copy, absently picked it up one afternoon and fell in love with it almost instantly, gladly snubbing the international critical darlings for this brilliant home grown debut. Narrated by a young boy mapping the mean streets of 1950s Melbourne, it’s comparable to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for its engaging hero, earnest humour and an underlying sense of tragedy. His adventures are improbably outrageous and interlinked yet I happily abandoned my starchy, grown up need for realism and enjoyed the ride.
This is another big Australian release, this time from the celebrated Peter Carey. London museum curator Catherine’s secret lover dies and she has only her work to support her. Grieving in secret, she finds peculiar solace in what would be considered by others to be a box of antique spare parts. For Catherine however, the box signals a complex journey into the history of its creation, its maker and ultimately herself. For those intimidated by the reputation of Mr Carey, this would be an excellent introductory work. It’s one of his most accessible works to date and modest in length, yet Carey still exercises his mighty literary power throughout, particularly his ability to give elegant voice to elusive emotions.
If being scared out of your pants is more to your liking, divisive Scottish crime writer Stuart MacBride is back with a standalone novel. The idea is intriguing- children are being kidnapped and the culprit sends a picture of them to their parents each year on the childs’ birthday. It’s classic MacBride- blackly funny, with well rounded characters and a gore factor turned to extreme. Seriously. Don’t read this a) before the lights go out or b) when you are eating. If you’re not too squeamish, however you should enjoy this novel, particularly the payoff at the end.
For a book low on murder and high on life you can’t go past the new Sophie Kinsella, author of the wildly successful Confessions of a Shopaholic series. In I’ve Got Your Number, Poppy Wyatt is engaged to the exotically named Magnus Tavish (a name which conjures images of blazers and hedge funds), but then the wildly different Sam Roxton accidentally comes into her life and hilarity ensues. This has the pert writing and agreeable plot to be expected from a top chick-lit author and really is perfect if you’re sitting by the pool sipping a mojito or two.
This exploration of the most powerful media organisation in the world and the man running it is bound to explode in the media. McKnight explores the extent of the political power Murdoch and his company commands and the editorial methods used worldwide. This was always going to be one of those books people devour and discuss at length with each other and with the recent scandals surrounding NewsCorp, interest in the organisation’s methods are at an all time high. I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet but this is sure to do well.