Tuesday 3 September 2013

The lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst


The subject itself is interesting, such as how did the lighthouses around the coast of Scotland get built? The biography of the family that did it, including Robert Louis Stevenson is also of interest. The historical time period itself from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s is also inherently interesting. A good non-fiction writer can grip you with a narrative of the subject but sadly Bathurst failed to grip me. Oh there’s lots to like in here, a discussion of lighthouse technology, architecture, the reasons for lighthouses, the struggle to build them in remote places but it just wasn’t brought alive enough for me. For a subject so soaked in the ocean waves she managed to make it a little dry.

Overall – Fascinating subject slightly too dry book for my tastes

The black project by Gareth Brookes


Richard is socially awkward and he has no real friends. He makes a succession of girlfriends out of household objects of increasing complexity and anatomical verisimilitude. His grandfather’s workshop, his mother’s clothes, pornographic magazines found in the woods are all used to further his obsession. The art is beautiful and idiosyncratic, made from lino cut and embroidery. Brookes brings you into Richard’s world and makes it seem normal and makes Richard a very sympathetic protagonist. The tale is set in an unspecified time, but one that is instantly recognisable as before computers, riding around on rubbish bicycles with crappy handlebar gears, penny for the guy, wanting your own private space but your mum still comes into your bedroom whenever she wants. This is an endearing and odd tale and highly recommended.

Overall – What could be a very dark and sordid tale is told with humour and is all the more human for that.



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