August was the month when I discovered the work of Muriel Spark. I found The Driver’s Seat a powerfully unsettling piece of fiction – the story of a woman’s impending death, a woman who’s acting strangely, for reasons we don’t learn. I was wrong-footed by Spark’s book in the best possible way, and now want to read more of her fiction.
In The Uninvited, Liz Jensen viewed a world of children turning against adults through the eyes of a scientist tested by extremes of emotion. The latest title from Peirene Press, Pia Juul’s The Murder of Halland (tr. Martin Aitken), took a crime as the starting-point for a striking portrait of bereavement. Ewan Morrison combined fiction, anecdote and history to examine a ubiquitous modern institution, in Tales from the Mall.
I also reviewed P.Y. Betts’s superb memoir, People Who Say Goodbye; Alison Moore’s intense Booker-longlisted character study, The Lighthouse; William Wharton’s classic war story, Birdy; Christopher Coake’s tale of the dangers of believing in ghosts, You Came Back; J.R. Crook’s jigsaw of a novel, Sleeping Patterns; Manu Joseph’s story of a father investigating his son’s death, The Illicit Happiness of Other People; and two short story collections: Jon Gower’s Too Cold for Snow, and Tim Maughan’s Paintwork.
In features, I made a list of ten favourite books read during the lifetime of the blog; and posted a couple of personal book round-ups: of the books I bought while on holiday in Bath and Oxford; and a snapshot of my library loans. There were also two Sunday Story Society discussions: of “Bombay’s Republic” by Rotimi Babatunde, and “Atlantic City” by Kevin Barry.