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  • Book Review: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
    it difficult to get close to them Whilst the characters aren t strong enough to live on outside the page their motivation and rationales are open to endless ethical scrutiny Even beyond The Betrayers final page the significance of the title remains ambiguous betrayers is plural and it does not refer to Tankilevich alone Kotler is a traitor too most obviously his affair is a betrayal of his wife However by refusing to betray his principles and give in to political intimidation he has arguably also betrayed his family by embroiling them in his now very public disgrace Our thoughts about Tankilevich s betrayal also change as we learn that he framed Kotler because the KGB threatened to kill his brother Both Tankelivch and Kotler are Zionists yet one betrayed his principles to save his family whilst the other refused and put his family in danger But who cares about this country if it destroys our family The country doesn t care You ve sacrificed and sacrificed for this country but still they ridicule you The Betrayers recalls a thought experiment from moral philosophy which posits the following David arrives at his friend John s house and begs John to hide him John agrees A few minutes later a mad axe murderer shows up and asks John if he knows where David is What should John tell the axe man The positive and negative aspects of The Betrayers spell out the positives and negatives of this thought experiment If you approach this thought experiment as a story you re not likely to be very invested in David John or the mad axe man as characters However the power of both novel and thought experiment derives from the ethical possibilities they present This novel finds its real power then after the reading has finished and the pondering begins Like the Israeli Palestinian conflict which it can be read as an allegory for nothing is clear cut and the debate seems endless About Adam Ley Lange Adam Ley Lange lives and writes in Edinburgh He is primarily a short story writer Along with his partner Adam runs the website The Rookery in the Bookery which reviews literary works in translation Mail More Posts 4 Comments comments Prev Book Review Sad Men by Dave Roberts Next Book Review A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros Kelsey Manning This novel finds its real power then after the reading has finished and the pondering begins You said it better than me but I completely and thoroughly agree http fashioningfiction com the betrayers david bezmozgis Related Posts The Depressed Person by David Foster Wallace Just Browsing An Ode to the Second Hand Bookshop A Writer s Journey From A Blogger To A Published Author Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-the-betrayers-by-david-bezmozgis/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Sad Men by Dave Roberts
    moving and sympathetic it proves There s a tendency to think of advertising as an intensely cynical industry certainly an idea enhanced by the cut throat office politics of Mad Men based upon a need to exploit and deceive potential customers in order to sell a product at any cost But what Roberts story illustrates is that there is often an artistic impulse and integrity at play as well one that is easily wounded but also openly joyful when a campaign hits its mark More than this Sad Men takes one of the bugbears of contemporary entertainment product placement and uses it in the most sincere and even heartfelt fashion I ve ever encountered I entered the creative department Looking around I saw a dozen of the scruffiest least attractive people I d ever seen in a professional setting I immediately felt at home Towards the end Roberts muses on whether life might have turned out better if I hadn t pursued what turned out to be a stupid impossible dream Yet everything that comes before this and indeed what follows gives the lie to this being simply a cautionary tale At times it is more of a realist s insider s guide to the industry at others it is genuinely enlightening Indeed it is through his unflagging passion for this dream that he raises pertinent questions about the degree to which branded products and the techniques employed to sell them have shaped both our society and our individual identities and histories and about whether for good or ill we take them too much for granted It is perhaps unfairly burdened by being marketed as the flip side of a hugely popular TV show but Sad Men is nevertheless an effective evocation of friendship love loss and painfully funny though sometimes just painful professional misfortune whilst also serving as both an aficionado s advert for advertising and an endorsement of the more widely relatable ethos of not giving up on life no matter what About Dan Micklethwaite Dan Micklethwaite lives and writes in West Yorkshire UK where he dedicates much of his spare time to the simple but consuming practice of avoiding the rain His stories have featured or are forthcoming in BULL 3 AM NFTU Emerge Eunoia Ink Sweat Tears and Birdville among others He s currently seeking representation publication for a novel More of his work can be found here http smalltimebooks blogspot co uk Mail Web More Posts 2 Comments comments Prev Book Review Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole Next Book Review The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis Related Posts Litro s Film Adaptation Issue Guest Edited by Anthony Fabian My Word is My Bond When Writers See Their Creations on Screen 9 11 Fiction and the Genie in the Bottle On Rushdie s Latest Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-sad-men-by-dave-roberts/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
    when he pursues a woman he sees on a bus with a Michael Ondaatje book it runs with precision and momentum the city revealing itself as a labyrinth with some glimmer of meaning at its heart The kernel of Every Day is for the Thief is a very conflicted heart between Lagos as an integral centre of the narrator s existence and something from which he has been detached Or more pithily struggle and absence What if everything that is to happen has already happened and only the consequences are playing themselves out There are inevitable comparisons to be made with W G Sebald in tone and mood particularly in the inclusion of uncaptioned black and white photos that are dotted throughout the book The reader is left to make up their own mind about what they mean and why he has chosen to include them Cole started out as a photographer and the way his narrator surveys his surroundings in both his novels nod to the detachment a photographer feels between themselves and their subject keeping them at lens length It is tempting to read Every Day is for the Thief as the prelude to Open City and to see the narrator as Julius who has moved to New York and become very successful in his field But what does this mean then for the narrator s authenticity as someone who has experienced Lagos and left This contradiction is unsettled and becomes transposed onto the reader and leaves the question of who s past do we reflect on the narrator s or Nigeria itself Surely we cannot expect a nation s rhythm and complexities to be solved by one author and Cole s accounts are contributing in the same way a small segment of a coastline is formed with the same logic that makes the shape of the continental shelf About Jonny Keyworth Jonny is a writer based in Edinburgh with an interest in African current affairs and culture having studied a Masters in African Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and is currently working on continuing the research he began at SOAS and also working on a novel based on his experiences in Africa Mail More Posts 2 Comments comments Prev Book Review Let s Talk About Love Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson Next Book Review Sad Men by Dave Roberts Related Posts Eden City Book Review Let s Talk About Love Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson Beasts of No Nation and the Child Soldier On Film Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-every-day-is-for-the-thief-by-teju-cole/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson
    just about able to meet Dion on her own terms Even in his pursuit for empathy though he isn t above a cheap shot at the expense of Phil Collins Groovy Kind of Love which might read as hypocritical to some but strikes me as a man still getting his house in order The media landscape has sped away from the book s original background in the seven short years since its original publication Print media s death rattle and the ascendence of blogs and online voices mean that a consensus cool opinion on an artist and their work is most likely extinct That cool opinion is something that Wilson recognises as pervasive and unhealthy We judge ourselves and the world we form around us he says and then let that image shape how we live out the consumer aspects of our lives Wilson is a witty and perceptive writer and the best parts of his book spring from his questioning his own ingrained biases which gently nudge the reader to do likewise This is a humanist book from the outset immediately veering away from the cheap jeers at the expense of people the writer doesn t deign to understand yet His prose is highly readable accessible when talking about the likes of Immanuel Kant but avoids appearing hollow next to the quotes from these long dead philosophers I remember being at sound system dances and hearing everyone from Bob Marley Kenny Rogers yes Kenny Rogers to Sade to Yellowman to Beenie Man being blasted at top volume while the crowd danced and drank up a storm But once the selector began to play a Celine Dion song the crowd went buck wild and some people started firing shots in the air This year s reissue of Love adds thirteen extraneous essays of varying qualities that continue the conversation Krist Novoselic s in particular is an exercise in essayistic cliches any writer quoting The Who s meet the new boss same as the old boss in 2014 is moving in worlds of lackadaisical mundanity while Ann Powers offers up a trenchant and moving piece about femininity s application in taste It s better to consider these additions as mere diverting bonus features because as little as they add the 2007 original easily deserved this victory lap of a Criterion edition About James Murphy The waitress sure looks pretty and that s a bad sign Shrewd Knavish Sprite Truth knowing guttersnipe LastExitShow PexLives Mail More Posts 1 Comments comments Prev Book Review Unthology 5 eds Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones Next Book Review Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole Related Posts LBF 2012 How to get into publishing and how to get ahead Book Review Ballistics by D W Wilson Music Q A with Scroobius Pip Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-lets-talk-about-love-why-other-people-have-such-bad-taste-by-carl-wilson/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Unthology 5, eds. Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones
    woman in meltdown On her way to work one morning she passes a consumer goods store and is struck by the advertising slogan in its window promising various technological wonders Suddenly the woman realises the full insult of the situation this stuff won t be wonderful for very long it will wear down and become banal She sees red and returns moments later with a hastily acquired baseball bat to set about the store The kettle will never boil The toaster will never toast The juicer will refuse to juice Not a drop of liquid from the liquidizer The hoover won t do any hovering The cooker s crooked No froth from the cappuccino maker The laptop s topped The underlying tone is serious but the staccato sentences range over astonishment anger and a kind of thrill in the woman s behaviour Her actions are self defeating irrational crazy And actually for the moment all she wants is to be this irrational this crazy She is not the answer to any question she simply acts here and now impulsively Mark Mayes The Regular features a man drinking in a pub who is suddenly confronted by a neatly bearded man tall in his fifties grey felt hat in the Russian style dark checked coat This character is in turn insolent ridiculous and insinuating more than a little reminiscent of the devil in Ivan Karamazov s nightmare in The Brothers Karamazov In The Regular the stranger visits to remind the drinker of his past a German liaison and an unwanted son It s a deeply wounded world with shady characters and dingy pubs and one in which the idea of family happiness is the ultimate grotesquery Even in the stories where a character tries an unambiguously positive thing such as when an elderly Polish man gives a Muslim boy a bicycle in Garrie Fletcher s Kowalski trouble is not far behind The old man s benevolence is misunderstood perhaps wilfully and he now despite the heat felt a chill something he hadn t felt since wartime Europe Were the story extended an additional page it is difficult to imagine Kowalski ending in a display of liberté égalité and fraternité This is England this is now One aspect of the collection disappoints despite its authors skill and craftsmanship Writing about unhappiness or about the truth slipping away does not necessarily have to be stylistically downbeat it is possible to show off the sheer inventiveness and joy of language while emphasising the shakiness of the truths one tells This is lacking in Unthology 5 writing which unashamedly shows off which is intoxicated by words words words which enjoys the misery so to speak But the final conclusion has to be this Unthology 5 says something true about today s world says it with interest and skill and you should read it soon About Andre van Loon Andre van Loon is a freelance literary critic specialising in new British and American novels and studies of

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-unthology-5-ed-ashley-stokes-and-robin-jones/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla
    beside these liminal often miserable places Kitab I m going to stop you there and let you know we just spent a quarter of a million dollars redeveloping our site for a chewier click through matrix full of snackable content In terms of the ideation and its agility in the marketplace I suppose yes that is a nifty grey Characters feel dislodged from the world with the endless pursuit of connectivity replacing actual connection but Shukla differentiates himself from his contemporaries by plumbing the depths of disconnection rather than simply documenting it The Internet bleeds into real life Aziz gets a tattoo of a bowtie under his neck It s a proper dinner party tattoo He looks like a clown on his day off and goes off to New York in search of his doppelganger Kitab s namesake tracks him down in London Hilarity most certainly ensues Kitab 2 has become analogue We share a moment next to the urinal while a man farts audibly in the cubicle Shukla s prose is robust and bold but primarily comes to life in dialogue Kitab and his brother Aziz yap along with the joyful bonhomie of the sharpest double acts while Kitab s world weary father often steals the show No one is perfect but they re not perfectly terrible either There are rare occasions where the novel wanders into banality Conversations for example about social media feel a little too like a paint by numbers exercise at times and those unwilling to participate with Shukla s world may be put off by all the chiaroscuro There s also the ending which is signposted with a beautiful touch but smacks of the familiar on arrival Connections used to be important Now the very meaning of the word it doesn t mean shit Associations have some weird cultural capital now Ultimately Meatspace should be commended for capturing a moment in time without feeling tired before it reaches the eBook Most novels if not all novels avoid the Internet and its dehumanising powers because we simply lack the language to describe it Meatspace goes someway to filling that void in our lexicon by taking a tattoo pen right to our flesh A troubling disturbing second novel that may not hit the inner bullseye of the great Here and Now dartboard but is certainly a damn sight closer than most About David Whelan David Whelan is a fiction writer and journalist based in London England He was formally Litro s Reviews Editor and Fleeting Magazine s Interviews Editor Currently he writes for Vice s food vertical Munchies He is one of Untitled Books s New Voices and his fiction has also appeared in 3 AM Magazine Shortfire Press and Gutter Magazine among others He holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA Mail More Posts 11 Comments comments Prev Anthology The Book of Rio Next Book Review Unthology 5 eds Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones Related Posts Collection Mick Jackson s Bears of England Novel

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/book-review-meatspace-by-nikesh-shukla/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Anthology: The Book of Rio
    Radio Nacional through a boy s changing attitude towards his grandfather This area was really different teeming with artists Orlando Silva Francisco Alves Marlene Linda Batista We named your sister after Emilinha one of your grandfather s favourites Dad said I don t know those singers Nor do any of my friends I just know they don t live here I think my grandfather is the only one left Marcelo Moutinho All of the stories in the The Book of Rio are exquisitely written and their award winning authors are among Brazil s finest writers While their styles may vary all of them are masters experts on timing who know how to tease their readers when to hold back and when to give a little more Some credit must also be given to the translators many of whom have lived in Brazil and all of whom are highly accomplished For those who are interested Marques introduction provides a valuable potted history of Brazil that includes background on the country s literary culture and puts many of the stories in context At the end of the day when the World Cup is finished and the teams and fans have long since left Rio de Janeiro these stories will remain compelling And I will still be dipping into the Book of Rio to reread them over and over again About Juno Baker Juno Baker is a freelance writer and editor mostly specialising in the not for profit sector with a distracting passion for books She has worked as a performance poet supporting John Cooper Clarke at Express Excess secretary singing dancing waitress children s party entertainer film extra actor cabaret compere night summary writer and journalist Her non fiction has appeared in The Guardian and her stories in numerous magazines and anthologies including The Frogmore Papers the Momaya Review 2013 and From the Slopes of Olympus to the Banks of the Lea an anthology about the London Olympics in 2012 Mail Web More Posts 4 Comments comments Prev Book Review The Circle by Dave Eggers Next Book Review Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla João Ximenes Braga Dear Ms Baker I am the author of The woman who slept with a horse and no it is not about superstition it is a religion A Brazilian religion of African descent of wich I am a follower myself In Brazil calling it a superstition is against our laws both that protect freedom of religion and racist crimes In Brazil I could put you in jail for calling an African brazilian religion superstition Please research next time you will review a book JXB Juno Hello Joao Ximenes Braga I can only apologise for offending you As an atheist myself I am a little insensitive to religious sensibilities and you are right next time I will do my research Thank you for pointing out my error and please forgive my ignorance of your customs and beliefs Juno Related Posts Novella Seize the Day by Saul Bellow Small Talk

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/07/anthology-the-book-of-rio/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Book Review: Death Can't Take a Joke by Anya Lipska
    own search for the murderer in an effort to clear his name He follows a mysterious Ukrainian woman spotted placing flowers outside Jim s house and eventually ends up at dodgy business run by a Romanian outfit Kershaw meanwhile discovers that the victim in the Docklands case is Polish and that she has to ask Kiszka for help Lipska excels at the portraiture of her main characters and in sketching out Britain s Polish community in fascinating detail as well as addressing the impact of Polish immigration to the UK Kiszka observes Back in the eighties I at least had a rarity value English people wanted to talk to me about Kieslowski and Polanski He puffed air through his lips a dismissive sound Now they just want to know if I do loft conversions This is a strong pacy narrative with unexpected turns and discoveries that for instance take Kershaw and Kiszka to eastern Poland in connection with their investigation Gripping events that endanger both of their lives make it an especially chilling read The thing that caught his attention was a curious scar running down the side of his face Reaching from temple to jaw it looked too wide to have been carved by a blade and yet unusually regular for a burn There is much to enjoy in Death Can t Take a Joke especially the perceptive and funny dialogue something I as a Pole found incredibly enjoyable and surprising as we are not a nation known for our sense of humour In particular the Kiszka Kershaw relationship something only hinted at in Lipska s first novel is much better developed here Death Can t Take a Joke is a superb page turner suspenseful right through its final pages About A M Bakalar A M Bakalar was born and raised in Poland She lived in Germany France Sicily and Canada before she moved to the UK in 2004 Her first novel Madame Mephisto was among readers recommendations for the Guardian First Book Award She is the first Polish woman to publish a novel in English since Poland joined the EU in 2004 A M Bakalar lives with her partner a drum and bass musician in London She is currently at work on her second novel Mail Web More Posts 7 Comments comments Prev Diary Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts Next Book Review The Circle by Dave Eggers Related Posts The Burn Poetry Slam What s the Point of Poetry for Points Anthology The Book of Rio Litro TV Recent Posts Bringing Up Baby In the Night Time Before the Sun Rises at the Gate Theatre True Love in Los Angeles A R BY ANY OTHER NAME The Echo Travelling in Fiji The Litro Blog View Archive 11th February 2016 Litro 149 The Love issue Letter from the Editor By Eric Akoto Love we spend our lives craving it in one form or another searching for it and talking about it Its meaning is felt more than

    Original URL path: http://www.litro.co.uk/2014/06/60639/ (2016-02-15)
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