A Mixed Bag of Books

A Greek tragedy of sorts

By Ralph McAllister

 Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne is the pick of a rather mediocre bunch.

Osborne is a well established author who has written a dozen novels and many essays and short stories.

Set mostly in modern day Greece this is a kind of travelogue leading to murder.

There is no mystery about the perpetrators and what they do, but before the reader gets there, we explore the relationship between American Sam and English Naomi, two young women in Hydra with not much to do but swim, eat, smoke weed and, finally, plot.

What to do when a charitable act goes horribly wrong.

Don’t go there!

The grubbiest and most violent of novels, One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel should be avoided at all costs, unless you enjoy a story riddled with abuse by father towards his sons.

Some have suggested that the father, despite all that he does, is charismatic, full of charm and trouble.

Some say it’s darkly funny.

Perhaps I was reading another book!

I don’t get Ali Smith

Ali Smith continues to elude me. I am probably in a minority of one.

I have revisited Autumn, the first of her projected seasonal quartet.

I continue to be irritated by her superb use of language, her virtuosic variations of time, word-plays and plots.

Unfortunately I keep seeing, and only sometimes admiring, characters of little interest or appeal.

The technique is never submerged, constantly urging us, or should I say, me, to admire the cleverness.

Mmmm …

The woman is not for cutting

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny is only fractionally better.

Spineless Graham has divorced Elspeth, married Audra, who is one of those relentless Manhattan moms who blunders through life with Aspergers ten year old origami expert Matthew.

She tries to make up a happy trio with Elspeth and Graham. Her attempts are both hilarious and dopey.

At times I wanted to give in and succumb to this crazy menagerie, but at over 300 pages, I kept longing to see some editorial control. But this woman is not for cutting.

A pity.

So not the best month for reading but then the good weather helped distract.



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