Nutshell

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Ian McEwan

First Sentence:     So here I am, upside down in a woman.

Back of the book: 

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.

Quotes from the book:

“But here’s life’s most limiting truth—it’s always now, always here, never then and there.”

It’s already clear to me how much of life is forgotten even as it happens. Most of it. The unregarded present spooling away from us, the soft tumble of unremarkable thoughts, the long-neglected miracle of existence. When she’s no longer twenty-eight and pregnant and beautiful, or even free, she won’t remember the way she set down the spoon and the sound it made on slate, the frock she wore today, the touch of her sandal’s thong between her toes, the summer’s warmth, the white noise of the city beyond the house walls, a short burst of birdsong by a closed window. All gone, already.

Thoughts:

A wonderful novel, thoroughly enjoyable.

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The Noise Of Time

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Julian Barnes

First Sentence:     It happened in the middle of wartime, on a station platform as flat and dusty as the endless plain surrounding it.

Back of the book:

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

Quotes from the book:

It had all begun, very precisely, he told his mind, on the morning of the 28th of January 1936, at Arkhangelsk railway station. No, his mind responded, nothing begins just like that, on a certain date at a certain place. It all began in many places, and at many times, some even before you were born, in foreign countries, and in the minds of others.

‘And yet a triad put together by three not very clean vodka glasses and their contents was a sound that rang clear of the noise of time, and would outlive everyone and everything. And perhaps, finally, this was all that mattered.’

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Two Years Eight Months & Twenty-Eight Nights

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Salman Rushdie

First Sentence:     Very little is known, though much has been written, about the true nature of the jinn, the creatures made of smokeless fire.

Back of the book:

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.

Quote from the book:

He was aware that the way things really were was far different than most people believed. The world a wilder, more feral, more abnormal environment than ordinary civilians were able to accept. Ordinary civilians lived in a state of innocence, veiling their eyes against the truth. The world unveiled would scare them, destroy their moral certainties, lead to losses of nerve or retreats into religion or drink.

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The Zone Of Interest

The Zone of Interest by Martin AmisMartin Amis

First Sentence:     I was no stranger to the flash of lightning; I was no stranger to the thunderbolt.

Back of the book:

There was an old story about a king who asked his favourite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn’t show you your reflection. Instead, it showed you your soul – it showed you who you really were. But the king couldn’t look into the mirror without turning away, and nor could his courtiers. No one could.
What happens when we discover who we really are? And how do we come to terms with it? Fearless and original, The Zone of Interest is a violently dark love story set against a backdrop of unadulterated evil, and a vivid journey into the depths and contradictions of the human soul.
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The Guts

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Roddy Doyle

First Sentence:     -D’yeh do the Facebook thing?

Back of the book:

Jimmy Rabbitte is back.

The man who invented the Commitments back in the eighties is now forty-seven, with a loving wife, four kids … and bowel cancer. He isn’t dying, he thinks, but he might be.

Jimmy still loves his music, and he still loves to hustle – his new thing is finding old bands and then finding the people who loved them enough to pay money for their resurrected singles and albums. On his path through Dublin he meets two of the Commitments – Outspan, whose own illness is probably terminal, and Imelda Quirk, still as gorgeous as ever. He is reunited with his long-lost brother and learns to play the trumpet.

This warm, funny novel is about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life. It climaxes in one of the great passages in Roddy Doyle’s fiction: four middle-aged men at Ireland’s hottest rock festival watching Jimmy’s son Marvin’s band Moanin’ At Midnight pretending to be Bulgarian and playing a song called ‘I’m Going to Hell’ that apparently hasn’t been heard since 1932.

Why? You’ll have to read The Guts to find out.

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