Posted by: billpurdue | January 28, 2011

All new Stuff 2

Let’s begin with a rather unusual memoir or family history. In The Hare with Amber Eyes [Vintage 27th Jan £8.99 9780099539551] the potter Edmund de Waal tells the story of a collection of netsuke (small Japanese carved figures ) which were collected in the 19th century by Charles Ephrussi, one of de Waal’s ancestors. It is really the story of the Ephrussi family, originally very wealthy, but swept into oblivion by the Anschluss and the Second World War. The netsuke are virtually all that remains of the once great dynasty.  For more, read the Guardian review by Rachel Cooke online.

The success of Scandinavian crime fiction goes on and on: the author Jo Nesbø is having phenomenal success at the moment. His new novel The Leopard [ Harvill Secker £12.99 978-1846554001] is out this week. Harry Hole is required in Oslo to help local police catch a serial killer. Also this week three other novels by Nesbø are being released in new editions: The Redbreast, Nemesis and The Devil’s Star.

Barney’s Version: A Novel [ Vintage £7.99 978-0099554462] by Mordecai Richler (1931-2001) was last year made into a film starring Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. When Barney Panofsky’s friends threaten to expose him as a thoroughly unpleasant person, Barney decides to write his own memoirs to refute the accusations. His memory plays tricks on him (towards the end of the book he is diagnosed as having Alzheimers ) and his story plays tricks on the reader too. The novel was first published in Canada in 1997 and a new paperback edition is out this month.

There must have been countless personal diaries of the war years published since the 1940s. At the end of this month there’s yet another: Mr Brown’s War: A Diary from the Home Front [The History Press £9.99 978-0752459318] In his diary Richard Brown describes the course of the war and life in wartime Britain. He is never in doubt that the allies will win the war but often expresses his frustration about the conduct of it. If war diaries are your thing, then this sounds like one to go for. It’s worth bearing in mind though that the dairies have been published more than once before under a slightly different title.

Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock first reached the silver screen as a Boulting Brothers production back in 1947. A new film is out this year (described as “a major motion picture” – what film isn’t “major”?) and stars Andrea Riseborough, Sam Riley and Dame Helen Mirren. The film tie-in edition of the book came out earlier this month [Vintage Classics £7.99 978-0099541684]. Greene’s classic is more than just a thriller: it’s also described as “a  challenge to Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the nature of sin and the basis of morality”.


Finally, the Scottish crime author who started to write when illness forced her to leave teaching: Alex Gray. Her new novel Sleep like the Dead [Sphere £19.99 978-1847443915– or large format paperback £12.99 ] is out on February 3rd. The plot is rather involved and difficult to summarise here, but it seems that DCI Lorimer is trying to find an elusive woman named Marianne hoping that a hit man doesn’t get there first. Should be “edge of the seat” stuff.

Next time I’ll take a closer look at three very different books I’ve been reading recently.

By the way, apologies for the absence of weblinks: I’m having a slight technical difficulty which I hope will be resolved for next week.


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