Books I won’t be reading this month

Having read Hobgoblin’s description of “naked book lust”, I went in search of some delectable offerings at my local online merchant. Can’t resist sharing two of their best-selling offerings (rather cynically I’m afraid).

Shatter by Michael Robotham

Synopsis: A naked woman in red high-heeled shoes is perched on the edge of Clifton Suspension Bridge with her back pressed to the safety fence, weeping into a mobile phone. Clinical psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin is only feet away, desperately trying to talk her down. She whispers, ‘you don’t understand,’ and jumps. Later, Joe has a visitor – the woman’s teenage daughter, a runaway from boarding school. She refuses to believe that her mother would have jumped off the bridge – not only would she not commit suicide, she is terrified of heights. Joe wants to believe her, but what would drive a woman to such a desperate act? Whose voice? What evil?

*snort* It has to be a naked woman in red high-heeled shoes doesn’t it? And the powerless clinical psychologist is a nice touch. Sorry, not for me – but the synopsis did make me laugh (unempathically I’m sure).

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

Synopsis: “When a careless plumber accidentally knocks through a wall, he is horrified by what he uncovers. Called to the scene is forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan. Fighting her claustrophobia, and the unmistakeable sweet, fetid odour of rotting flesh, Tempe descends the precariously steep, makeshift wooden steps. What awaits her below is a ritualistic display: slain chickens and a goat – and a skull, ghostly pale, rests on a pedestal, the lower jaw missing, the empty orbits starring back at her. The forehead is darkened by an irregular stain the exact red-brown of dried blood, and lined with remnants of desiccated tissue. Two cauldrons stand nearby, beads and antlers suspended overhead. Age, race and sex indicators confirm the skull as that of a young, black female – but how did she die, and when? Then, just as Tempe is working to determine the post-mortem interval, another body is uncovered. The corpse is headless, the torso is carved with Satanic symbols. Could there be a connection? Must Tempe face the sickening possibility that Devil-worshippers are sacrificing human victims?

Sorry, I is a book-snob (as Twakkie might say, before scratching his jean-pant and belching). My advice to Tempe (not named after the Bloemfontein military base I hope) is that sickening possibilities are best avoided, especially after lunch. Devil-worshippers – who needs them I say? We have enough greedy money-worshippers and look where that got us. Away, foul demons.

Another book I won’t be reading this month, but not through want of desire (or trying) is Netherland by Joseph O’ Neill. Had a quick look at and nada, nyet and niks. Over at Random House the promo sound promising but Christopher Tayler, writing in the Guardian, was a bit less complimentary, calling it overly sentimental:

At times it’s hard not to wonder whether O’Neill, who’s the author of an admired memoir as well as being a long-term member of the Staten Island Cricket Club, might not have done better to write a memoir-essay on New York cricket. And when Hans starts spending time with the eccentric denizens of the Chelsea, some readers might worry about what Joan Didion once called New York’s “insistent sentimentalisation of experience”. Yet O’Neill’s take on the notion of the American dream is both unsentimental and cleverly attuned to that notion’s grip on the local imagination. Perhaps stories of striving immigrants and America’s ambiguous promise speak to New York reviewers on frequencies inaudible to outsiders. O’Neill has said that he wrote the book as “an American novel … My first novel as an American novelist”, and in this respect, he seems to have succeeded.

I still want to read it, and if Seachanges liked it then I imagine I will as well.


9 Responses to Books I won’t be reading this month

  1. seachanges says:

    I’m sure you will like Netherland! This book is about so much more than just cricket, and it’s not sentimental.

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve heard that Michael Robotham writes a good crime novel, but I haven’t read him yet so can’t leap to his defence.

    Netherland does seem to have divided people. I’m planning to read this summer, whilst watching the cricket.

  3. Litlove says:

    I’m really worried about the careless plumber who knocked through a wall. I’ve had one accidentally cut through the main power line once, but knocking down a wall is a whole new level of insanity! I’ve heard such mixed things about Netherland I don’t know what to think. You’ll just have to read it now to tell me!

  4. Pete says:

    Seachanges – I will definitely track this one down. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Sarah – I do feel guilty about dissing a crime novel that I haven’t read and I’m glad that you jumped to a fellow Sidneysider’s defence. I would do the same if someone blogged disrespectfully about our own Deon Meyer for example (although I’m quite likely to poke some pointy sticks at him if given half a chance)!

    Litlove – LOL, now that you mention it that IS the most shocking part of the story. Forget the devil-worshippers. What WAS that plumber thinking? I think he needs his head read 😉

  5. Dorothy W. says:

    Very nice to have books you don’t need to read! And yes, the naked woman with the red high heel shoes … funny! I’ve briefly thought of trying Netherland, but then it’s so new and so popular that I think … maybe not. I don’t like to read trendy books if I can avoid it.

  6. Fugitive Pieces says:

    *typing with hands over face to covered reddened cheeks*
    I did actually read the Michael Robotham, overnight, borrowed from work (bookshop) – no, it’s no good, no one made me do it, no excuses… It had a pretty conventional structure, with a double narrative, but an odd mix of lurid, tabloid plot with telling domestic observation. It was like sitting in the passenger seat of a familiar car, but the driver was fast-cycling bipolar and had no mastery of the stick shift. And then he drove over a cliff. The end.
    It also had one of the worst lines I’ve ever seen:”That’s when I hear the sound. The sound of a mind breaking….Can you hear it?”
    Um – that would be the sound of my jaw clenching. Or possibly the bounce of the book off the opposite wall.
    As for the plumber – well, Litlove’s heard about mine. He claimed a “psychic sense for sewage”. There’s got to be a short story in that.

  7. couchtrip says:

    Fugitive Pieces – LOL. Thanks for the review – loved it! And I’d be interested to read a story about your plumber. A common metaphor in my job is that people “dump” on us so I guess that psychologists could be seen as plumbers as well. We help people clear up their shit 😉

  8. Dick says:

    Hmm. Naked. High heels. I might give that first one a go…

  9. gregminton says:

    Hey! Nice blog! I notice you sometimes discuss therapy on your blog — I thought you might be interested in Freedomain Radio, the most popular philosophy podcast on the internet. There is a lot of material in the show that particularly focuses on psychology.

    All the best!


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