Book of the Month: and May's musical winner is....DIAMOND STAR HALO by Tiffany Murray (discussion Tue 25 May)(40 Posts)
Fab first books and not so good second ones:
Zadie Smith - White Teeth, astounding; Autograph Man, a bit self conscious. (and then her third, On Beauty, was completely superb - perhaps the third one is the time to hit your stride, after the fuss has died down)
Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces, one of the most inventive, poetic, original books I've read; her second one (recently out and recently read but can't remember name) is weirdly dull and never gets off the ground.
The same goes for albums, doesn't it? The curse of the second album...
Lovely to have you JSL.
Agree about Fred - it is hard to believe in the adoration when all you can see is a bit of a tosspot. Signing that note to his sister after they'd had a vast amount of sex like he'd sign an autograph - not really a surprise.
I enjoyed the story, the music, and it made me laugh. It was a nice book to escape into. Sometimes that's all I want from a novel. I agree JSL Nana was hilarious; not being welsh I'm not sure if her language was right or not, but I found her funny and believable.
On a more positive note, I do adore the 70s and 80s, and, should a movie ever be made of this book, I'd happily watch it for the costumes and soundtrack alone...
Have voted for The Damned United for June's BOTM, hoping there'll be some good 70s nostalgia in there too.
Welcome JSL, also my first online bookclub - sorry had to dash off and deal with crying child. All resolved now hopefully.
Fred - now he was a character, although quite like a lot of famous rock gods these days - adored because of who they are rather than specifics of their character.
I was wondered why it was all written from Halo's perspective - didn't seem to bring anything to the dialogue and could easily have been written from a third person perspective? Or could it have been written better from the perspective of one of the other characters?
hello, I got away after all!
I am interested in TillyBC's comments on the disappointment of a second novel.
I am also reading Andrea Levy's new one The Long Song which I am reading after finishing Small Island (admittedly her fourth and fifth novels I think.) TLS is a follow up to SI and I love it a LOT. So not all subsequent novels have to be an anticlimax even if the first one is feted. Ditto The Shadow of the Wind and its follow-up The Angel's Game - the last I am devouring in paperback at the moment.
I think I just found DSH a bit self conscious in its descriptions. I am half way through but I am not really interested in Fred or Halo. I am turned off by the way the author repeats her descriptions of her unusual birth, the Nana's baking and potions, her capel of bones, the mother's fairground background and the way it all seems to build to create a folk memory for this particular family. Its not particularly original - when I remember whose style it reminds me of I'll get back here!
yUUMy, very interesting thought, I think third person would have changed it a lot. A bit of perspective, and perhaps less of a childlike vision of it all. And I think it might have led to more surprises in there - with Halo's adoration of Fred, her parents, her Nana etc I felt I knew what was going to happen at every stage.
chicadee, I agree that it was a nice, comfortable sort of book. I'd much prefer this to anything horror or gruesome. Or violent. But, as mentioned above, perhaps it lacked just a bit of a twist, a bit of unexpectedness? Did you feel that you knew exactly what everyone was going to do?
agree the idea seemed novel and intersting - hence i bought it, so hey nothing ventured
Halo wasn't that interesting so I feel the story was best described from her perspective!
I think there could have been made more of her feelings about Fred's baby and how everyone came to accept what had happened.
I liked the way Nana remembered the dead, it made me laugh to think of the family photograph with several empty chairs....imagine it happening in real life!
Jenny was idolised too much,when the worshiping hippies were scared away it made me laugh.
Glad you could make it, Aliarse.
Good piece in Observer about one-off brilliant novels versus long-term writers with dozens of books to their name...
Totally agree, i was reading this book knowing what was going to happen - too predictable. Also, the repetition of the unusual birth etc was not particularly inspiring. Perhaps in a more difficult novel where there is a need to be reminded then it would have been good, but not here. Ah well, i enjoyed the process of reading a book i wouldn't normally pick and it definitely got me discussing what i thought of it (with friends and my other half and online). Thanks for my first bookclub
Thanks for a bit of escapism and some laughs too!
I had not read any fiction for a while so it was nice to know others were reading it too.
I've got to head off now, but thanks to everyone and feel free to carry on...
I would love to hear any recommendations, authors you'd like to have on for chats, or new books you're raving about. Post them here or on June's discussion thread (and see you all on 29 June for the footie-filled bookclub evening)
I confess I only read up to the part where Fred is discovered to have been left behind, I found this surprisingly,to have evoked a little emotion.
I agree there was an overuse of metaphors
and I found the book was just far too cool for me. A little predictable too perhaps.
I will finish it, was glad to try something different.
How interesting, I came looking for this thread because I read the book but knew I wouldn't finish it in time for the webchat.
And I LOVED it. It reminded me very strongly of John Irving, I loved the characters, the storytelling, the setting and the 'fahmlee' stuff just made me wish again that I was part of a bigger family myself. I was completely charmed by it and will definitely be seeking out Tiffany Murray's other books.
I must be in a minority generally because I didn't like White Teeth, thought The Autograph Man was brilliant and liked On Beauty but thought it was the self-concious one, written very obviously with the big prizes in mind imo.
Wouldn't life be boring if we all thought the same
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