No Country for Old Men, by Cormac Mcarthy 

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Mcarthy’s novel, now made into a famous motion picture, reflects upon the damnation of man in a southern texan drawl. The first aspect of this novel which struck me was the peculiar writing style; a seemingly continuous list of actions without much greater detail or character insight. Though difficult to accustom to at first, it appears that this is not without reason. A sharp comparison in style is made with frequent monologues from the sheriff, which are likewise the only chapters within which are numbered. Whilst at first this seemed to be a consideration of good against evil, it appears to be more deeply rooted in emphasising the mindless brutality of humanity, by contrasting this with the orderly sheriff. As the title states, this is no country for old men.

 

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High Society, by Ben Elton 

As with many of Ben Elton’s books, High Society takes an interesting idea and explores it’s repercussions in modern British society. In this case, the fictional novel follows a backbench MP striving to legalise all drugs in the United Kingdom. The narrative follows the politics, scandals and  effects of this campaign upon the central character, whilst simultaneously offering an extremely liberal but interesting take on the world of drugs.

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The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro 

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The Buried Giant immediately draws the reader into Ishiguro’s dreamlike world set within post-Roman Britain, where ogres and other creatures are common terrors for those who dwell there. The novel follows the narrative of an elderly couple, focusing on the strength of their marital bond throughout as they journey through surreal surroundings.

Ishiguro’s writing style is certainly unlike any I’ve read before. Clearly he is quite drawn to the chivalrous, charming nature of knights, accentuating this fairy tale style by contrasting it directly with the somewhat brutish nature of men. A strict level of politeness is likewise maintained within all interactions between the varied characters, respect clearly being a powerful part of Ishiguro’s post Roman, sword-wielding world. The simplest movements are considered as though coordinated moves in an elaborate dance, with great detail given to swordsmanship and stature. In this way Ishiguro created not just characters but truly heroic figures, an appropriate part for his fairy tale atmosphere.

 

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Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman 

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Kelman’s story takes the reader into the shoes of a young African boy starting school having migrated to London. The colloquialisms and typical slang used throughout offer a realistic perspective of London life for the young, and how a naïve and excited child can soon be thrown into dark and terrible situations.

Pigeon English describes the innocent transition a child can make to become involved with the wrong crowds, ultimately portraying how even the kindest souls can fall to peer pressure to the worst outcomes. This is quite a short novel, yet extremely hard hitting, one I’d recommend to provide a different outlook on how violence can spread from a young age.

Length: 272 (Bloomsbury)

Overall Rating: 3 stars

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Dracula, by Bram Stoker 

This week takes a look at a true classic for any literature and horror fans!

 

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A truly classic novel, Bram Stokers Dracula first brought the legend of Vlad the Impaler into the fictional world. The novel has since inspired an endless plethora of vampire books and films, working from the basis of this eloquent original.

Written entirely in diary form from the perspectives of a number of characters, Dracula presents a personal insight into the lives of its protagonists as they challenge the terror of the blood sucking undead. Perhaps to a fews disappointment, Hugh Jackman’s burly portrayal of Van Helsing is nowhere to be found here, instead a coy tactician and intellectual features in the battle between good and evil. This is a must for any classic literature and horror fans!

Length: 560 (Penguin Classics)

Overall Rating: 5 stars

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, By Jonas Jonasson

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I like to think of this novel as an elderly version of Forest Gump, with much more humour and drinking. The novel follows the innocent yet extremely exciting life of Allan Karlsson, beginning his tale at the age of one hundred in a retirement home in Sweden. As gang war and murder follow the old mans present steps, Allan’s life is gradually recalled as the novel progresses, drawing in a number of world leaders and major events of the first half of the 20th century.

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Fahrenheit 451, By Ray Bradbury

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“Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns”

In the dystopian vein of Brave New World, The Machine Stops and of course 1984, Fahrenheit 451 considers a world were intellect is attacked and shunned. Centuries of classic literature, philosophical thought and anything compelling to the human mind are sought out and burned by Bradbury’s ‘Firemen’, in the place of simplicity and carnal delights.

 

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