Trysting – three hundred windows into the secrets of love

trystingTRYSTING, by the French writer Emmanuelle Pagano, is an extraordinary book. Frank, poetic, and rendered beautifully into English from the original French by its joint translators, Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis, it is the stitched together tapestry of over three hundred teasing glimpses of love in its many forms: from the first blush of youthful romance through to the enduring affection of the old; the angst and fire of a brand new romance to the death throes of the stale relationship; from unwarranted loyalty to brutal betrayal, and from chaste admiration through to the borderline deviant. Continue reading “Trysting – three hundred windows into the secrets of love”

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Review: Melissa, by Jonathan Taylor – a moving tale of music and loss and the intriguing human mind

melissaOn the day I started reading Melissa, Jonathan Taylor’s latest novel, NASA released a recording of the strange sounds – ‘alien music’ – heard in May 1969 by a group of Apollo 10 astronauts as they passed by the dark side of the moon, sounds which the trio were initially reluctant to mention to their bosses for fear of being laughed at or excluded from future missions. Now, as it turns out, these sounds likely had far more to do with radio interference than with the output from an alien woodwind ensemble, but the reaction of the astronauts and the interest in this story demonstrates that there’s something that feels essentially human about music: it’s a truly universal experience of the human brain, and we’d be pretty astonished to hear it coming from anywhere else. Taylor’s book is very much concerned with music – its imagery, and the role it plays both as a means of communication and as a collective experience, which taken to its extreme might occur as an event of mass musical hysteria such as is experienced by the residents of Spark Close after the death of a little girl called Melissa.

Continue reading “Review: Melissa, by Jonathan Taylor – a moving tale of music and loss and the intriguing human mind”

Review: Dinosaurs On Other Planets – Danielle McLaughlin

 doopIf you only read one short story collection this year, make it this one.

The cover of Dinosaurs On Other Planets promises a “world both beautiful and alien”, where “men and women negotiate their surroundings as a tourist might navigate a distant country”, and this consistent theme of alien, off-kilter environments provides a rich seam of tension and conflict which Danielle McLaughlin skilfully mines. Continue reading “Review: Dinosaurs On Other Planets – Danielle McLaughlin”