Books I’ve Been Reading

The Martian by Andy Weir

It’s a neat, bold book. It captures the urge to survive, it shows the science and it manages to tell an old archetype in a new way. The use of the journal ties in with how we read now. Blog posts although the book has third person sections to demonstrate the efforts of NASA back on Earth and his former crewmates.

The science is explained well, as a dramatic device to show the challenge and the means to overcome it. It’s a condensed version of the issue that comes up in writing, the tension and release of problem and solution. It’s expressed well and the book, although a little earnest in places, has the classic energy and structure of great adventure fiction.

Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve enjoyed the essays that he puts up at Litreactor and his class is well worth taking. He has a unique and personal style, he writes about powerful things and his voice comes across very distinctly.

In being positive, I hope that this book is simply a private joke made public. The tone, the exposition and the characterisation all mark this out as Fifty Shades of Grey for hipsters. As satire, it’s too broad and breathless in tone to land the joke. Have you ever seen The Following? Awful show, thinks that it’s far cleverer than it actually is, or maybe I’m missing it somehow but I have no care to continue to interpret it. Shame, really.

The Internet Is A Playground by David Thorne

There’s a playful intelligence and sense of humour on display here. Various neighbours, employers. colleagues and administrators play straight man to the cynical and mercurial wit of David Thorne. A man who pays for chiropracter bills with a drawing of a spider.

The site is here.  The book contains a selection of the correspondences, some articles and towards the end, a hilarious and bittersweet travelogue about a trip to the US. There is a second book out, which I will be ordering.

I am close to 150 pages of the second draft of Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere. The book is a different direction from the previous two, definitely more challenging in a lot of ways but it reflects the things that I have learned from the previous two.  The challenge of it has been enjoyable, demanding different things from me in terms of craft and structure. I am waiting for the agent to get back to me on the second book but I am always working on something. There’s a complete exploratory draft in longhand that I will be transcribing in the new year and the aim is to get Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere finished before I go into that.







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