Tag: Books: Literary


Review: Father’s Day

Posted 27 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

Father’s Day
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

At the age of six, a little girl named Harvey learns that her parents have died in a car accident. As she struggles to understand, a kindly social worker named Wanda introduces her to her only living relative: her uncle Jason, a disabled felon with a violent past and a criminal record. Despite his limitations—and his resistance—Wanda follows a hunch and cajoles Jason into becoming her legal guardian, convinced that each may be the other’s last chance.

Moving between past and present, Father’s Day weaves together the story of Harvey’s childhood and her life as a young woman in Paris, as she awaits her uncle’s arrival for a Father’s Day visit. To mark the occasion, Harvey has planned a series of gifts for Jason—all leading to a revelation she believes will only deepen their bond.

With extraordinary empathy and emotional impact, the award-winning writer Simon Van Booy has crafted a simple yet luminous novel of loss and transcendence, second chances and forgiveness: a breakthrough work from one of our most gifted chroniclers of the human heart.

The last book on my TBR queue by Simon van Booy. The premise of this book sounded interesting, not to mention I seemed to have picked up books some time ago with similar themes. But anyway, I finally got around to reading it.

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Review: Tales of Accidental Genius

Posted 26 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Tales of Accidental Genius
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

“She believed it was a gift to never truly know the self. We are not who we think we are, nor how others see us. Long before death, we die a thousand times at the hands of a definition.”

In his first book of short stories since Love Begins in Winter, for which he won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award), bestselling author Simon Van Booy offers a collection of stories highlighting how human genius can emerge through acts of compassion. Through characters including an eccentric film director, an aging Cockney bodyguard, the teenage child of Nigerian immigrants, a divorced amateur magician from New Jersey, and a Beijing street vendor who becomes an overnight billionaire, Tales of Accidental Genius contemplates individuals from different cultures, races—rich and poor, young and old—and reveals how faith and yearning for connection helps us all transcend darkness of fear and misfortune.

Another day, another Simon van Booy novel to review here on the blog 😛 Tales of Accidental Genius is Simon van Booy’s second collection of short stories. Whereas the first collection dealt with love in all forms, this collection has a different angle, which I thought was interesting, not to mention it sounded lie the stories featured characters from all kinds of backgrounds.

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Review: The Secret Lives of People in Love

Posted 23 October, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Secret Lives of People in Love
By: Simon Van Booy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Since the publication of his critically acclaimed debut collection The Secret Lives of People in Love, Simon Van Booy has been hailed as one of the most exciting and talented short-story writers in Anglo-American fiction. This magnificent collection brings together twenty-four stories by a writer of unparalleled lyricism, generosity and emotional power. Set in a range of locations, from Cornwall, Wales, and New York to Paris and Rome, these stark and beautiful stories are a perfect synthesis of intensity and atmosphere. Love, loss, isolation and the power of memory are Van Booy’s themes, and in spare, economical prose he writes about the difficult choices we make in order to retain our humanity, and about the redemptive power of love in a violent world.

The two books I’ve read to date by Simon van Booy had been wonderful. He has a way with words that’s very poetic and that touches on those feelings that are difficult to express or to put into words. Some time ago I decided to pick up the remaining books by him that I haven’t read. Aside from full-length novels, he’s also written short stories, which I thought was interesting. This was the first of the two short story collections that I’ve decided to read.

Once again the author’s prose captures much of feelings, fleeting or otherwise, that are often difficult to express–of love and loss, of the sadness and triumph of memory, of resilience and failure. He captures them quite evocatively in those quiet moments when the character isn’t doing much or is in the middle of transition–the moment you wake up, the quiet travel from one location to another. It’s beautiful and quiet and heartbreaking all in its own little way. Some stories were more haunting than others; “Love Begins in Winter” definitely stood out in my mind, not only because it’s a novella compared to the other stories that followed, but just because of the story itself. The only reason this book wasn’t rated any higher was just because some stories didn’t interest me as much or I personally found it boring, my mind wandering.

Nonetheless I’m glad to have read The Secret Lives of People in Love as it once again showcases Simon van Booy’s prose and ability to capture those melancholic emotions and thoughts that are otherwise difficult to describe or express in writing. Definitely worth checking out too if you’re looking to read through his entire bibliography 😀

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from The Book Depository

So You Want to Read… (Ian McEwan)

Posted 15 September, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 5 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

Another month, another edition of So You Want to Read…. For this month, I decided to feature Ian McEwan (see author tag), one of my favourite authors. There’s just something about his use of language, his prose, the stories he writes about that really draws you in and/or piques your interest. I wanted to read a considerable amount of his works before finally putting together a list, and I believe that now is the time to share my list of recommenations 🙂

First time considering Ian McEwan’s writings? Here’s my list of books on where to start:

  • Atonement (review) — My first McEwan book and it remains one of my all-time favourite books. It introduced me to his wonderful writing; the best way I can describe it is that he’s just able to find the right word for every thought and feeling that flickers across these characters’ minds and experiences. It’s a devastating read to be sure, and it left me thinking about the characters and how one simple action unravelled lives and changed trajectories. Fun fact: this has to be one of the longest book reviews and book dissections I’ve ever written on this blog 😛
  • Amsterdam (review) — My second McEwan book, it remains quite high up there on my list of recommendations. Perhaps a bit more clinical in approach and structure, it nonetheless showcases all of McEwan’s power of prose and use of language, not to mention the complexity of the characters and the fragility of relationships.
  • The Children Act (review) — I’ve read a number of McEwan’s books since Amsterdam that, whilst interesting, failed to hit the same heights as the first two books I mentioned. With The Children Act, McEwan not only delivers his signature character drama amidst controversial/current issues but also grabbed the reader’s attention from the very start, slipping readers into his protagonist’s life and thoughts from the get-go. Following Fiona Maye for the first half of the novel and what she does in her job was just fascinating to read and I think she’s a character that first time readers will want to follow from start to finish of this book.
  • Bonus: On Chesil Beach (review) — Don’t be fooled by the slimness of this book: Ian McEwan manages to cram a lot of complexity into this short tale of newly-weds on their honeymoon in 1962. I initially didn’t include it on my list because it’s a really quiet drama and character study; you really need to sort of settle in and read this book carefully to really appreciate the nuances of what the author is trying to tell. It is by no means a quick read. But it’s worth the mention because it really showcases McEwan’s ability to really get into the thoughts of his characters, right down to every ugly thought that you’d hide from the world.



And that’s my list! If you’ve read Ian McEwan’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Review: The Noise of Time

Posted 8 June, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Noise of Time
By: Julian Barnes
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

I read his book The Sense of an Ending (review) a few years ago and absolutely loved it–it’s definitely up there as one of my all-time favourite novels–so ever since then I’ve been keen to pick up more of his works. I was especially excited about this particular title because it bundles all my favourite themes and topics: Soviet Russia, Art, Life, Julian Barnes’ writing. Waited forever and a day for it to hit mass market paperback so it can match my copy of The Sense of an Ending but here it is now 🙂

By the way, I looooooooooooooove the book cover of this edition 😀

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