Book choice for September 2011

Hungry, the Stars and Everything [suggested by Noel Fagan]

front cover

Helen is a 29 year old food critic with a big black hole in her life. But a lot to be thankful for: a great job, a loving partner and an assignment to review a mysterious new restaurant, Bethel, tipped for a Michelin star.

Then, alone in the restaurant, she finds herself embarking upon an extraordinary eleven-course meal where each dish takes her back to a life-shaping moment in the past. There's a dysfunctional family home, some unexplained dark fantasies, and a heartbreaking love affair. All of which leaves Helen wondering whether she is where she wants to be after all.

About the Author

My name is Emma Jane Unsworth and I live in Manchester, England. My short fiction has been published by Comma, Redbeck Press, Channel 4 and Prospect Magazine. I am a columnist for The Big Issue in the North.

My first novel Hungry, the Stars and Everything was published by The Hidden Gem Press in June 2011. It's about drinking, eating, not eating, astronomy and the devil.

Author's (rather sporadic) blog [from where the above autobiographical notes have been taken].


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 Noel's selections were:

Kalooki Nights

Kalooki Nights

Kalooki Nights is a loosely biographical story of Maxie Glickman, a post-war Mancunian Jew.

The central theme [centres] around victimhood and minority identity when the witchhunt moves elsewhere. Maxie and his schoolfriends soon learn deep anger at the treatment of the Jews in the war and exert enormous energy hating the war criminals. To justify their anger at events they never witnessed, they hunt for antisemitism in all around them. When they don't succeed, they seem to annoy others in order to provike reactions that can be seen as anti-semitism. This is exemplified in Maxies choice of wives and girlfriends, most of whom are anodyne at best but provoked into reaction against Maxie's constant self-pity and reference back to Jewsih themes. There is an amusing contrast on display in the form of Maxie's sister's man - an Irishman (sorry, the name escapes me), who is very eager to learn Jewish ways and frustrated when he never quite succeeds.

This is an interesting premise - how do members of an oppressed minority react when the oppression stops? Do members integrate with the whole, as some characters do, or do they continue to act the role of the victim, becoming increasingly frustrated as sympathy evaporates? But the premise might have been brought to denouement in half the number of pages. Although Kalooki Nights did have moments of humour in the early encounters, it became repetitive and dull. Not even the intrigue about Maxie's friend Manny (who had gassed his parents) was enough to sustain interest. I did read on to the bitter end (and there was much bitterness to be got through in the process), but I'm not sure it repaid the effort. [review by MisterHobgoblin writing on Amazon - one, it has to be said, of a number of less than glowing reviews all of which comment adversely on the length of the text]

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
Howard Jacobson is also a columnist for the Independent newspaper.

I Am The Messenger

I Am The Messenger

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

About the Author

Zusak's "The Book Thief" was the Chorlton Chapters selection for August 2009, so more information about the author will be found here.


Previous Months' Book Choices

August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
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February 2010
January 2010
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September 2009
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