Friday, July 27, 2018


This is the book and the bag that it came in. Rupert told me he was going to City Lights bookstore in San Francisco and I asked him if he would buy me a book. He made a brilliant choice but as the message on the bag says, its delivery was delayed as he had to read it first.

'The Mirror Thief'  [Melville House. 2017] is a really exciting 574pp novel, the best I have read since Sergio De La Pava's 'A Naked Singularity', bearing comparison to Umberto Ecco. The author Martin Seay is the executive secretary for the village of Wheeling, Illinois. This is his first novel. Unbelievable!

There are three streams in the book, set in three Venices: The real sixteenth century Venice, a time when they were just perfecting the art of making mirrors; Venice Beach , California in 1958 and the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas in 2005. In each story there are plans to steal secrets. Intriguing and totally absorbing, it's a wonderful read.

These next two books link backwards and forwards. 'Goodnight, Nebraska' [Black Swan. 1999]  is also a first novel by Tom McNeal, who is a published short story writer. The main character is a  teenage boy whose family life is shattered and he has to move to a small town in the wilds of Nebraska, full of weird people and strange intrigues. This is a really meaty story, brilliantly written, full of detail. It stands up alongside 'Wyoming Tales' by Annie Proux (reviewed previously)

'Canada' [Bloomsbury.2013] is by Richard Ford, one of the best-known novelists in the States. His main character is a young boy whose family life is shattered and he has to move to a small town in the Canadian outback. Here there's grim and dastardly characters and nasty deeds going on. Ford is a maestro and this is beautifully constructed and written. Another totally absorbing and gripping tale.

Lastly comes 'Stone Junction' [Canongate. 2004] by Jim Dodge which reads as if it should have been published in the 1960s and it has an introduction by one of the strangest writers from that period, the legendary Thomas Pynchon. The books it most reminded me of were Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' and the Illuminati trilogy. Here the main character is on a strange quest helped by a freaky underground network of crazy scientists, drug-dealers and mystics who are battling and plotting amongst other things to steal some highly valuable weird alien technology thing. It's great fun


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