Great Reads from Dan Skinner and Brandon Shire
- Created: Sunday, 11 May 2014 14:25
- Written by Tim Bairstow
One of the good things about finally dragging my sorry tush in to the twenty first century and realising that I needed to get 'out there' and let people know that I scribble merrily away in my little study at home is that I've encountered many other authors whose work I might have missed in the welter of stuff available. When another author is kind enough to make contact with me, I always pop along and have a look at what they're doing and buy a copy of something that takes my fancy. I'm so glad that I do since otherwise I would have radically missed out.
Some of the stuff that I have been reading are well written, 'feel good' stories. They're all very different. I must just mention "Always" by Kindle Alexander. This is a chocolate, log fire and heavenly liqueur of a feel good book. It almost ought not to work, but it does! If you want something just to relax with and enjoy, no questions asked, this is it! Slightly different, but in the same vein, is John Inman's "Paulie". This combines a sweet and nicely written romance with a house full of stunningly attractive guys who seem to spend most of their time naked, aroused and having sex in the most peculiar of places ... even underwater! Now there's a recommendation for you! If you're British and over the age of 35, don't be put off by the fact that 'John Inman' conjures up images of Mr Humphries in "Are You Being Served?".... ("I'm Free...!") Mr Humphries would probably have a seizure if he read this book!
However, there are two stand-out reads from the last few weeks. The first is "Memorizing You" by Dan Skinner. Skinner's writing seems effortless as he powerfully evokes the era of the late 1960's in which the novel is set. As a 'coming of age' story from a writer of Skinner's evident powers, you'd expect a 'classic' of its kind and you will not be disappointed: elegiac, captivating and redolent of the agony and ecstasy of the beautiful confusion of first love, this has it all. On top of that, Skinner brings a stunning new twist to the genre. I won't spoil it for you, but, in the best possible way, the ending will live with you for a long, long time!
Seldom does a novel have the power to subtly change one's mental and emotional landscape, to make you look at things thought familiar in a radically new way. Brandon Shire's stunning "Listening to Dust" is one such book. Don't be put off by the first few pages which may leave you with a slight frown of 'what's going on here'. All will be revealed, and how! This book is raw and its impact is devastating. It feels to have been an intensely personal work; first novels often are and I know mine was. It is packed full of unforgettable imagery as the love story between 'Dusty' and his British lover Stephen unfolds ... and I mean unforgettable!
This book will make you think, and think hard, about what love really is and about the various different levels that are comprised within the idea of loss. As an aside, Brandon Shire pulls off the trick of an American writer that actually gets British idiom spot on ... except that we Brits talk about 'the sea' and not the 'ocean' ... and, for a British reader like me that adds to the overall impression of a deeply thought out, carefully written novel of unforgettable potency.
Right ... off to watch re-runs of 'The Thorn Birds' .... damn those cardinals!!!