Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century


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Fiction I’ve ploughed my way through recently includes:

Steven Galloway: The Cellist of Sarajevo

Kazuo Ishiguro: Nocturnes (and check out the rather creepy trailer by George Wu)

Saša Stanišic´: How The Soldier Repairs The Gramophone

Poppy Adams: The Behaviour Of Moths

Nadeem Aslam: The Wasted Vigil

Sue Miller: While I Was Gone

Mark Sarvas: Harry, Revised

Zoe Heller: The Believers

Danny Wallace: Friends Like These

Eleni, by Nicholas Gage

North of Ithaka, by Eleni Gage

Yiyun Lee’s The Vagrants

The Way Things Look To Me, by Roopa Farooqi

The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘new’ collection of recently-published short stories

Alex Scarrow‘s October Skies

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

Nick Hornby‘s newest work Juliet, Naked

The Lovers by John Connolly

Brixton Beach, Roma Tearne‘s account of the impact on the lives of four generations in one family of the civil war in Sri Lanka

Alexander McCall Smith‘s Corduroy Mansions

John Grisham’s The Associate

Jasper Fforde’s latest in-depth work-out for the imagination, Shades of Grey

Solar, by Ian McEwan

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, Alexander McCall Smith‘s latest paperback entry to his Ladies’ Detective Agency series

Rosie Alison’s The Very Thought Of You.

Book of the moment: Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde. Being a fan of Fforde’s previous work, especially the Nursery Crime Division series (set in an area of Reading near where I grew up), I approached the prospect of a third group of stories with some trepidation (I had expected, and really wanted to see, another NCD novel). Shades of Grey is the first of a promised trilogy and, during a first reading of it, it appears a little disappointing. Some moments, certainly – the chapter on the East Carmine Marriage Market being one – but my first thoughts were that Fforde was over-reaching himself. It’s only when you get to the end, and have a chance to reflect on what’s happened in the book, that its scale of achievement starts to appear. Given that much of it is setting the context in which the characters must operate in the rest of the books that make up the series, this is a work that may well only be judged at the conclusion of the trilogy. You can never pigeonhole Fforde’s work – is it humour, is it farce, is it allegory, is it romance, is it something else altogether? – and all come together to good effect in this novel. The Tuesday Next novels were gentle, perhaps slightly whimsical, romcoms; the Nursery Crime series complex detective investigations leavened by being based on nursery rhyme characters; the Colourtocracy books have the makings of a modern epic.


Written by Calvin

18/09/2009 at 12:17 am

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