Book choice for July 2008

The Riders [suggested by Kathy Macdermid]

front cover

Fred Scully has gone to Ireland, where he is restoring a dilapidated cottage and waiting for Jennifer, his wife, and their seven-year-old daughter, Billie, to arrive from Australia.  But on the appointed day, Billie arrives without her mother, too traumatized to explain what happened during their last stop at Heathrow.  Thus begins a mad search through Greece, Italy, France, and Holland, always just missing the elusive Jennifer.  Though action-filled, this is primarily a study of the psychic price paid by an open-hearted man who loves deeply, if not wisely.  The novel's strengths lie in its richly detailed settings and in the archetypal fury of its portrait of psychic dissolution. [from]

About the Author

Tim Winton began his first novel, An Open Swimmer (1982), at the age of 19, while on a Creative Writing course at Curtin University, Perth.  It won the Australian/Vogel National Literary Award, and he has since made his living as a full-time writer.

Born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1960, he is the author of several novels for adults, including Shallows (1986), a novel set in a whaling town, and Cloudstreet (1991), the tale of two working-class families rebuilding their lives, both won prestigious Miles Franklin Awards in Australia.  A theatrical adaptation of Cloudstreet toured Australia, Europe and the USA to universal acclaim.  His novel That Eye, the Sky (1986) was adapted for theatre by Justin Monjo and Richard Roxburgh, and also made into a film.  A second film adaptation was made of In the Winter Dark (1988), featuring Brenda Blethyn.  The Riders (1995) was shortlisted for the 1995 Booker Prize for Fiction, and also won a Commonwealth Writers Prize.  Many of his books are set in his familiar landscapes of Western Australia.

More information on the Contemporary Writers website, or the inevitable Wikipedia page.


Shortlisted for this month

The nominator can now decide whether to bring one, two, or three books to be chosen by the group (or mandated in the case of only one book being selected).  This month, Kathy suggested three books, the others being:

The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time

At Scotland Yard, Inspector Grant has a reputation for being able to pick them at sight.  Now he is in hospital, knowing that no amount of good behaviour is going to make this anything less than an extended stay.  Yet his professional curiosity is soon aroused.  In a portrait of Richard III, the hunchbacked monster of nursery stories and history books, he finds a face that refuses to fit its reputation.  But how, after four hundred years, can a bedridden policeman uncover the truth about the murder of the Princes in the Tower?

The Daughter of Time has its own from which the above is taken.

About the Author

Josephine Tey is one of the best-known and best-loved of all crime writers.  She began to write full-time after the successful publication of her first novel, The Man in the Queue (1929), which introduced Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard.  In 1937 she returned to crime writing with A Shilling for Candles, but it wasn't until after the Second World War that the majority of her crime novels were published.  Josephine Tey died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.

This brief bio is copied from the Fantastic Fiction website, and Josephine Tey also has an entry on Wikipedia.


How We Are Hungry

How We Are Hungry

Look carefully at the black, dust-jacketless cover of Dave Eggers's mixed bag of a short-story collection, How We Are Hungry, and you'll see the engraved image of a gryphon, the mythological animal with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle.  It's the sort of thing that barely registers before you've begun reading.  But after you've turned the last page and closed the book, there it is again - and suddenly this hybrid beast, famed as much for its vigilant nest-tending as for its love of gold, seems a particularly apt symbol for the other unusual creatures about whom you've just read.

Animals, especially imperiled animals, make ominous cameos in nearly all of these stories.  There's the wounded anteater who crashes the hotel room of two old friends, both of whom seem willing to sacrifice their friendship for a few nights of banal, artificial romance.  There are the thousands of cows whose imprisonment in a beef-processing plant haunts a young man, himself imprisoned by a relative's blithe and repeated attempts at suicide.  There's the sheep struck and killed on the road by a driver rendered temporarily insane with unfocused, diabolical jealousy.  And in the last and most curious story, there's a chatty talking dog named Steven, who narrowly survives being thrown in a river and commits the remainder of his spared life to running, eating and playing with maximum gusto. provides an unusually extensive editorial review, of which the above is only the first two paragraphs, and the book also has its own Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of four books, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, How We Are Hungry, and What Is the What.  He is the editor of McSweeney�s, a quarterly magazine and book-publishing company, and is cofounder of 826 Valencia, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centres for young people.  His interest in oral history led to his 2004 cofounding of Voice of Witness, a nonprofit series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world.  As a journalist, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Believer.  He lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and daughter.

More information from the Random House website or his Wikipedia page)


Previous Months' Book Choices

June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006