Books! King, Powers, After the Rain, Shaun Tan, the Man Booker International shortlist

After the rain

The news:

The Man Booker International shortlist (NOT the Man Booker, for a book, but rather for a lifetime achievement) features John Le Carre and Philip Pullman, and Aussie David Malouf is in the 13, too. I find it cool that Le Carre wants to stay out in the cold — he’s not competitive, it appears, and the organisers have politely declined his equally polite request to be withdrawn.

And FableCroft has opened pre-orders for After the Rain, which includes my cyberpunk homage to misspent RPG days. The story has been fine-tuned since it was included in FableCroft’s flood relief charity e-version. The physical release is due out for Easter.

And it would be remiss to fail to mention the ongoing Year of the Shaun Tan, with the Aussie artist adding the mortgage-killing Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award to this year’s Oscar. Huzzah!

And the reviews, briefly:

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King, collecting four yarns all uniformly bleak. The opening novella, ‘1922’, is classic obsession/haunting stuff, I had a couple of wee niggles, but I can’t go past the man’s command of character and, in this collection, the economy of words and gorgeous phrasing. ‘Big Driver’ is an ugly tale where the ugliness is not just foreshadowed but announced — you’d think that’d kill the suspense, but it doesn’t. The short story ‘Fair Extension’ is probably the least engaging, a Faustian exercise in human bitterness with surprisingly few twists. And ‘A Good Marriage’ is another simply domestic bliss gone bad, an one way in which we can handle home-grown evil. Even when the story has a kind of happy ending, there are no real winners here: such an apt title. King at his best or even his mediocre is a great salve.

And the other novel to have travelled from the to-read pile to the finally read one is Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard, a fetching alternative reality in which the poets Byron, Keats and Shelley battled very literal demons. It’s clever and I can only imagine how much fun the author must’ve had digging up the poetic extracts to head each chapter, selecting not only for theme but to set the mood on the action to follow. It’s a pedestrian pace but well worth the stroll through this superbly imagined fantasy.

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