Scoop Review of Books

Archive for June, 2014

Dream Cycles

Guy Kesteven, General Editor, New Holland, $40

Review by Jim Robinson1001 bikes

A good few of the bikes in 1001 bikes to dream of riding before you die, I’m actually perfectly happy if I never ride. But that’s a complement to editor Guy Kesteven rather than a complaint. A book filled with razor-tuned race machines would have quickly tired, whereas this one, with bikes all the way out to Pee-wee Herman’s beach cruiser, is way more fun.

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The Forgetful Sleuth

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (Penguin, $37)
Reviewed by Ruth Brassington

Elizabeth_Missing_Cover800We all make cups of tea we forget to drink. We all make lists. We even forget to take them with us to the shops. Maud’s lists are a bit different, but, like the rest of us, she remembers some things and not others. Not everyone is where they should be and things are not all as they seem, particularly for Maud, whose memory plays tricks on her – and on the reader.
Here she is, the main character and voice, in the present. Then again, she steps into the past to replay old scenes that may or may not connect to the here and now. The mysteries, both past and present, seem to be linked in Maud’s mind. Her ageing processes are sensitively shown through her thoughts and actions – and she’s very, very active. She’s the Miss Marple of her own mysteries and like that ageing woman, she won’t let sleeping dogs lie.
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Show not tell

Sculptor’s Daughter: A Childhood Memoir translated by Kingsley Hart, introduced by Ali Smith (Sort Of Books)
Review by Ruth Brassington

I haven’t been to Finland, but my grandfather was born there to a Finnish father and a Swedish mother, the same mix as Tove Jansson. I’d heard stories of long dark indoor winters and going to school on skis but I hadn’t heard of Moomintrolls (the little white troll of Jansson’s Moomin books). Not surprising, as my grandfather was born in 1870 whereas Jansson was born in 1914.

A century after Jansson’s birth, this now-translated memoir will bring her life after death by increasing the readership of her adult writings. My joyful introduction to Jansson’s writing was The Summer Book, published in 1972. Sculptor’s Daughter, too, gets across the essence of a child’s day-to-day life with few companions. The child Tove’s naïve voice seems charged with ancient wisdom and understanding, showing an early intrigue with words in the same way as did Janet Frame: “Inexorable. Ornamentation. Profile. Catastrophic. Electrical. District Nurse. They get bigger and bigger if you say them over and over again. You whisper and whisper and let the word grow until nothing exists except the word”.
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