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Saturday, June 30, 2012
The New Republic
Review: Alex Sarll
Pushing 40 and a self-confessed "runner-up" in life, the protagonist of Lionel Shriver’s novel, the disillusioned corporate lawyer, Edgar Kellogg, makes the decision to chase after a job in journalism, leaving behind a promising but unfulfilling career.
The allure of the ego-boosting byline and his memory of his childhood peer Toby Falconer — one of life’s winners — leads Edgar on a path to replace an infamous journalist Barrington Saddler, who has gone missing in the fictional isthmus of Barba, Portugal. The Portuguese terrorist cell, SOB, had been making headlines until Barrington’s unexplained disappearance, and Edgar finds it difficult to fill Barrington’s boots. The New Republic explores notions of popularity and the nature of charisma, but is more a novel about the practice of hack journalism and arrogance than a satiric exploration of terrorism.
It’s a timely but by no means flawless novel from the Orange Prize-winning creator of We Need To Talk About Kevin.
The Long Earth
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Review: Natsayi Sithole
Before making his name with Discworld, the grand work of comic fantasy, Terry Pratchett wrote two science fiction novels.
The long-gestating idea for another now finally comes to fruition with the help of Stephen Baxter.
The Long Earth is a seemingly endless series of parallel earths to which, using a cheap homemade device, almost any human can easily ‘step’.
In the tradition of science fiction’s golden age, the ramifications of this one simple ‘what if?’ provide a wealth of material, as some seek to profit from the new frontier and others see an opportunity for escape.
Mainly, though, we follow Joshua Valiente, one of the first steppers, on an airship odyssey out into the endless earths, in part to find out whether any of them are home to indigenous intelligent life.
Satisfying in itself, the novel nonetheless leaves a compelling setting ready for sequels which may prove even more intriguing.
Review: Liz Ellis
Bubblegum card collector Riley Richardson has been assigned a coded mission by MI5 to protect the life of Princess Diana. Or so it seems.
The Queen of Hearts playing card, dropped in a deserted alleyway by a mysterious grey-haired man, is Riley’s starting point. More cards, and thus more clues, appear. But has Riley got what it takes to decipher the cards correctly?
And will he be able to solve the mystery of the illusive card 19, which has haunted him for 30 years? The answer, as they say, is in the cards.
The Card by Graham Rawle is engaging, thought-provoking, and at times laugh out loud funny. The use of typographical features to highlight parts of the text and Rawle’s illustrations of the cards is also visually striking. This story about ephemera is in no way shortlived.
Atlantic Books, €17.50
Review: Victoria Burt
Australian novelist Fiona McGregor’s fourth book tells the story of 59-year-old Marie, a recently divorced mother of three, as she tries to start over in life.
Moving between the affluent Sydney suburbs and the city’s grittier underbelly, Marie rebels against the middleclass society that shaped her marital life.
In this reverse coming-of-age tale, Marie starts drinking heavily, has sex, makes new friends and becomes obsessed with tattoos.
But is she too old?
Following Marie, her carefree, reckless nature does prompt the reader to agree that age is nothing but a number.
Indelible Ink is an enjoyable read that will leave anyone who’s been to Australia reminiscing on their time there, and envying the seemingly stress-free attitudes.
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