Tag Archives: The Book Thief

Advent Calendar Day 22 & 23: The Missing Day & The Book Thief

I really needed today to go perfect, after spending all day yesterday catching up on sleep and the week’s previous events I needed one perfect day at least. I’m happy to say it started out good and for once stayed that way. With getting the two premium packs of FIFA 365 cards in the post I was worried that might turn out to be the high point of the day, a case of starting good but not ending up that way. And to make it even better I got a Philipp Lahm card in the second pack:

20161223_191030-1 philipp-lahm-fifa-365-2016-17-fan-favourite-cardI started writing this post on Friday after I got back, I didn’t get very far though. I was a litle more tired than I thought, so today should actually be yesterday. The point still stands though, the day did go fine.  There were a few minor things I got in a flap about but most of that doesn’t seem so important now. The main thing being the newly configured Christmas market, I read in the news about extra security measures and all that but didn’t really know what that would mean here. It just caught me by surprise, half the stalls not being where I expected them to be. I’m not complaining of course, I understand why, they don’t want any stalls closer to the road than they have to be.

As for everything else I think I’m too tired to be obsessing over anything. Just the other day I was reading about some idiot online who doesn’t believe that social anxiety is a real thing and that people who claim to have it are just nervous really. That it’s normal to feel nervous in new situations or a little uncomfortable at times. There was so many things wrong with what they think I’m not even going to bother to go into it, I don’t want to ruin my day. But there are two points I want to make, I would give anything to just be a little nervous. And secondly anyone who thinks that way should consider this, in a strange way I’m grateful to be so tired today simply because I can’t think straight and thus won’t obsessing over anything that happened yesterday. That’s not to say those things won’t come back and bother me later though, in fact I can guarantee they will. It’s not just about feeling uncomfortable sometimes, for me it’s never feeling comfortable, no matter how well I know someone or how much I trust them. It’s always second guessing myself, always doubting if I’m saying or doing the right thing. It’s the fact the simplest of conversations require so much thought put into them that it’s easier to just never talk at all. Like I said there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to just be a little nervous.

Forget about the bad stuff for now, as well as the cards there’s something else I got yesterday. Everytime I get a little extra money in my pocket I spend it on books, and yesterday was no different. Two of them I’m particularly happy about, not just because of the subject matter but how nice the covers are. I don’t normally take pictures of the books I buy but I’ll make an exception here, they are two delightfully Germanic covers:

20161223_190929-1On the subject of books that brings me to the second topic in the title, my annual re-read of The Book Thief. The plot point which bothered me last time still bothers me a little, yet I want to read it anyway. It’s not so much I don’t care, more that the positives outweigh the one negative point. Reading it again is like seeing an old friend you haven’t seen for a long time, like a good friend you accept it’s flaws as being part of them. It’s one of those books I feel like I can never get tired of and each time I read it I get something new from it. I think it’s a very fitting book to be reading now. Not because it’s about Germany, where it takes place is not really relevant to what I’m thinking about, it could be anywhere. It’s the people that are important, not the place. It’s foolish to think that the Holocaust is some uniquely German thing, all people are capable of that level of hate and of acting on it.

Time and time again I’ve tried to work out why it’s one of my favourite books. If it’s because the story is being told by death or because it’s set in Nazi Germany. Actually whilst both those things play a part neither of them are the main reason. I think I know now what that reason is, it’s Liesel’s foster-father, her Papa Hans. And no it’s nothing to do with his name, though I will admit it’s really hard to type Hans and not Hansi. It’s what he does for Liesel, the way he helps her as best he can make sense of the world. It probably doesn’t make much sense to him either but amongst what’s going on he takes care of her, teaching her to read and so much more. I could do with that right now, someone to explain all of this, to make everything make sense. That’s part of it anyway, the other thing is the words themselves, the very topic of the book. But it’s not stealing books which I’m thinking about, rather stealing words.

The Book Thief made me realise it’s something I take for granted, being able to read that is. I never considered what it would be like to find that hard or be unable to read at all. I taught myself to read at a young age and have never liked or needed to be read to. The importance of being able to read can’t be understated, yet it’s not all there is. Reading is one thing, understanding what you’re reading is another thing all together and what I worry about the most. Not just with the written word but in conversation too. There’s one particular event in The Book Thief which really sticks with me, one line which I can never forget. “You can steal a book but you can’t read one.” And it’s how Liesel solves her problem which makes it so memorable to me. Unable to read the book in front of her she starts reciting from memory a chapter from The Gravedigger’s Handbook. Reciting but not necessarily understanding, that’s why it sticks with me. So much of the time I feel like I’m saying and hearing things but not really understanding them. I’m never really quite sure about what I’m saying, or if it makes any sense. It feels like words are my best friend and my biggest enemy at the same time. I hate them but I need them.

That’s enough about books and words for now, just one more day to go, today is the final day of the calendars. At least I don’t have to worry about how the final post will go, I have that all planned out and there won’t be a lot of words in it, there’s no need, the pictures will speak for themselves. But before that is the previous two days, day 22 & 23. Day 22 saw striker Harvard Nielsen make his appearance in the Freiburg calendar and he was followed by Christian Streich who needs no introduction. I won’t have any problem picking  a good picture or GIF of him that’s for sure. And in the Dortmund one was Raphael Guerrerio and Marco Reus:

20161223_190702-1Christian Streich & Amir Abrashi - 1.FCK v SC FreiburgChristian_Streich_celebrates_Freiburg_v_FurthChristian_Streich_goal_celebration_SC_Freiburg_v_1_FC_Union_BerlinChristian Streich - SCF v RBLChristian_Streich_celebrating_promotion_2015_16Christian Streich & Alexander Schwolow – SC Freiburg v Heidenheim 1SC Freiburg - Meister der 2.Bundesliga 2015-16 - Christian Streichchristian_streich_and_nils_petersen_celebrate_sc_freiburg_v_eintracht_frankfurt

December: The Month of Dieter

December could only be named for Hans-Dieter Flick and it’s quite fitting that I start writing this post now because on the day I started writing it there was a new video of Hansi posted on the DFB site. It’s also fitting in the sense December is the month you get gifts in and he and Jogi have certainly been the source of many gifts this past year. And now Matze too of course. In fact at the moment I have more Matze chapters in progress than Jogi or Hansi ones. He’s proving to be quite the little character.

Despite the month being named for Hansi it’s not exactly my favourite time of year. I’ve never been a fan of Christmas and I’m still not. But I did have a little fun this year, the Bundesliga took care of that because on TV Christmas morning was a repeat of Freiburg’s 6-3 opening night win against 1.FC Nürnberg. Seeing it again didn’t take the sting out of losing the reverse of the fixture two weeks before Christmas but it was still a lot of fun.

The only gift I really wanted for Christmas this year was for Freiburg to be autumn champions, they just missed out on that honour with RB Leipzig in pole position instead. It would have been nice but it is ultimately meaningless, what counts is where they are four months from now. That’s all that counts. At least they did get to start and end the month with a win, two routine victories in both cases. First a 3-0 win against 1.FC Union Berlin and then against 1860 München.

As things stand the gifts I did get turned out to be quite nice. A few books including the kicker Almanach which has almost all the German related football stats you could dream of. A most useful gift. I also got two DFB calendars, two Dortmund programs one with Thomas Tuchel on the front and one with Matze Ginter on there. Plus some Matze Ginter cards. The real highlight however for me was the wrapping paper. I love all my gifts but I love the wrapping paper the most. Three kinds this year, Freiburg, Dortmund and the by now traditional Jogi & Hansi paper:

IMG_20160111_182837IMG_20160111_183337IMG_20160111_183434IMG_20160111_182926Matthias Ginter - SC Freiburg 2011-12 signed card Matthias Ginter - SC Freiburg 2012-13 signed card Matthias Ginter - Borussia Dortmund cardAs I expected it was a rather strange month, even more so than usual. For one thing I watched thirteen films. Nothing I watched could beat the first film of the month which was The Secret in their Eyes. Every time I watch it I just fall in love with it a little bit more. It gets more perfect every time I watch it. I also saw a very odd filmed named Stuart Saves his Family late one night when I couldn’t sleep. I watched it purely because Vincent D’Onofrio was in it but it ended up being quite an interesting film and certainly gave me something to think about.

I’m not sure I’d say I liked the main character Stuart, in fact I’m not even sure I enjoyed the film but it did intrigue me. So much so I drafted a post in relation to some of the themes it covered. Gist of it is Stuart is a little addicted to self help groups and is a little overbearing. When you meet his family you understand why. He has his own TV show which is not at all popular and when it gets cancelled his life falls apart. In between dealing with the dramatics of his family he gets another chance at a similar endeavor. The second time round it works out. And it’s partly because of what he learned from his family that it does. Eventually he realises that you can only help someone up to a certain point, if they don’t want your help or are unable to recognise they need help then there’s not a lot more you can do. Sometimes when it comes to your family you have to just accept them as they are and stop trying to fix them all the time. Which is what Stuart does, he’s always trying to fix things. Sometimes you just have to play the hand you’ve been dealt. His motto is “Progress not perfection.”

This is what I meant to entitle the post but as I mentioned I’d been up late when I watched the film, thus it was even later when I drafted that post and as a result I ended up typing “Perfection not Perfect.” It amuses me but I’m not sure why, perhaps because I’m so much of a perfectionist that I couldn’t even contemplate typing the real title and accepting that something could be anything less than perfect.

At the cinema I saw Star Wars which I have absolutely nothing to say about, a disappointing Christmas film called The Night Before which I only went to see because Michael Shannon was in it (he was terrific, as always) and Black Mass which was the true story of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. I know the film got quite mixed reviews but I quite enjoyed it. It was certainly a passable film for an evening at the cinema anyhow.

Other than that I revisited some old favourites. In the spirit of Christmas tradition I watched one of my favourite James Bond films Goldeneye. I also watched Ratatouille which is surprisingly moving for what is essentially an animated film for kids. The scene where the restaurant critic is served  the dish ratatouille and it takes him back to his childhood memories always makes me cry.  On the subject of childhood memories I also watched Toy Story and Toy Story 2. I’ve seen them at least twenty times each but I’ve only watched the third one twice, and I never watch them as a trilogy. It’s not because I don’t think it’s a good film or because I don’t like it. I think it’s more because in the third one Andy grows up and gives his toys away, I’m not good at accepting change of any kind. I think it bothers me that Andy grows up and gives away his toys. That’s the whole point of the film, about moving on, accepting changes, starting a new chapter in your life and all that. Except it’s quite so cut and dried for me. There is no clear delineation between chapters because the events which normally mark the beginning or end of a chapter aren’t happening for me that way.

Book wise it wasn’t a good month, I know I read The Book Thief but I can’t recall what else I read. I certainly hope I did read another book and I just can’t remember because if I really did read just the one then that’s a new low for me. On the other hand reading The Book Thief was extremely important. I did so to test a theory, to see if I still loved it as much and whether or not the plot hole bothers me. I’m happy to say it doesn’t, that I’ve fallen back in love with it. Though I don’t think I ever stopped loving it. I like to think of it like this, no person is perfect, everyone has their quirks and annoying habits but when you love someone it doesn’t matter. So why should a book be perfect.

It’s like two of my favourite games Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed. Neither of them are 100% perfect but I love the first one in the series for both way more than the others. Because for me the other games don’t have the same feel to them, they don’t have the same kind of charm. I don’t care that Assassin’s Creed is a lot more repetitive than AC2. I love the setting, the characters and everything about it. I know the flag missions annoy some people but I actually quite liked them. I’m not saying there’s nothing good about AC2, there is and I did enjoy playing it. I must have done since I’ve completed it three times. But it just doesn’t conjure up the same kind of feelings and excitement that the first one does. Same with Mass Effect. It’s why I’ve played through Mass Effect at least six times and why I haven’t done the same for Mass Effect 2. Though I have to admit part of the reason I don’t love Mass Effect 2 is because I’m still annoyed at not being able to have Kaidan in my squad. I was doubly annoyed because on my play-through with the female version of Shepherd he was my love interest. I really missed Kaidan and as much as I like Garrus, I would have preferred having Kaidan back.

Back to the topic at hand reading The Book Thief again was important for another reason, I found out just why I like it so much. That it’s not because the book is narrated by death or because it’s set in Nazi Germany. The person who recommended I read it told me just those two facts about it. As if that’s all I needed to know. They weren’t wrong, the first part alone would have made me read it. But reading it again lead me to think of it a little differently, a little deeper. Only this time around did I think about what I have in common with the book thief Liesel. I didn’t have many books when I was a child, though to be fair no matter how many I owned I wouldn’t have thought it enough. The books I did own I treasured. As much as I loved my Playstation and my Gameboy it certainly wasn’t as much as those books. And considering my Gameboy was like an extension of my right hand during my Pokemon phase, I mean  a lot. In fact I still have most of them in storage. But it’s not just about the books.

It’s about the words, about being able to tell your own stories. Unless you can read and write you can’t do that. When we meet Liesel for the first time she can’t read or write. It’s her foster father who teaches her to read. But that would never have happened if her brother hadn’t died, if she hadn’t stolen the book from a careless grave digging apprentice who dropped it and didn’t realise. And if the war didn’t happen she may never have met her Papa Hans who taught her how to read. She never would have met Max who helped her realise just how important words can be.

I didn’t have that problem, I taught myself to read before I started school. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. And I think sometimes I take them for granted, not just the books but the written word in general. Not only being able to read but being able to write my own adventures. Just like some people overestimate the importance of being able to read and write so I underestimate it. Because whilst those people are wrong, whilst they are over simplifying the issues, words do matter, they do help. Because as I’m coming to realise when it comes down to it they are all I really have. At least words of the written variety anyway. Because when it comes down to it a lot of the time it’s the only way I can reliably express myself. For someone who talks a lot I actually say very little. That is whilst I can talk about my special interests until I tire myself out I can’t talk about what’s bothering me. I can’t explain what’s going on in my head. For that I need the written word. I need my stories and my characters. Without them I can’t make sense of anything.

As well as being a quiet month book wise so it was in terms of collectibles as well, obviously with it being Christmas I didn’t have as much spare cash as I would have liked. That didn’t stop me from purchasing one very important item however, something I’ve dreaming about getting since last year. The item in question is one of the newer DFB polo-shirts, the ones for the Euro qualifiers. It’s not a blue one like I wanted but the white one is quite nice too. The other small notable items I got include two signed Match Attax cards, one of Roman Bürki and the other of Vincenzo Grifo, a card signed by Joachim Löw and a signed Nils Petersen Bremen photo:

IMG_20151211_171831IMG_20151211_171922Roman Bürki – signed Freiburg Match Attax cardVincenzo Grifo - signed Hoffenheim Match Attax cardJoachim Löw – signed Eintracht Frankfurt cardNils Petersen signed Bremen photo

Advent Calendar Day 22: Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw/King Neuer

Behind door number 22 in the Freiburg advent calendar was Spanish defender Marc Torejon. As the title suggests I finally have Manuel Neuer’s DFB card and he was well worth the wait. And joining them from the Dortmund calendar is Henrikh Mhkitaryan:

Manuel Neuer - DFB 2015-16 card 1 Manuel Neuer - DFB 2015-16 card 2 Henrikh Mhkitaryan - Dortmund advent calendarAs well as these I also have Christmas greetings from Jogi Löw, from a short but sweet little video from the DFB site:

Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw 1 Weihnachtsgruß von Joachim Löw 2Yesterday I was angry, today I’m just confused. I can make no more sense of why I was angry today than I could yesterday. At least I’m in a slightly better mood, the weather has something to do with that. It’s been raining all day long. I didn’t wake up angry at least which is a good thing. Though I didn’t manage to get to sleep by a decent hour, in bed but not asleep. That’s not so good but I don’t have any real complaints about that because of how the time was spent. I couldn’t get to sleep so easily so I turned to a tried and trusted method. I wrote a Matze adventure, at best it would help me to figure out why I was angry, at worst it would at least give me something to do with said anger. It didn’t help me work out why but it must have helped on some level because I did fall asleep eventually. It is a shame however that I spent the whole day asleep, had I not done do I would have had the place to myself all day.

Last week I was confused as to what day it was because of my odd sleeping patterns and because of the DFB Pokal. Now I’m equally confused though I don’t have football to blame, at least not in quite the same way. One way it is to blame is that there’s no countdown to match-day, because there isn’t one. Not yet anyway, for the Bundesliga it’s at the end of January and the 2.B the beginning of February. Last night after I’d finished writing the post I was working on and decided that an early night was best all of a sudden I wanted to stay up all night and I had plenty of ideas I could have started working on. But I didn’t and I can’t help but wonder if staying up would have been a better option. Truth is it probably wouldn’t, it doesn’t really matter. Stay up and it would have felt wrong and I would have been annoyed with myself, spend the day in bed as I did and the same would still be true. Whatever I do these days it feels wrong.

In fact I’m not sure what I’m doing right now is right. Today or tomorrow depending on your perspective, to me it feels very much like tomorrow because of how late I got up, I’m going to see Star Wars and to finish off the last of my Christmas shopping. I have no idea where sleep fits into the equation, if at all. I don’t even know if I’m tired or not. I’m not really sure how I feel or what it means. My head feels strange but then it has done these past few weeks. All I can think is that I wish I could cancel, maybe still do the shopping part but not the cinema part. I’m not particularly enthused about being in the presence of another person nor having to focus on a film for 135mins. I wish I could stay at home and half watch several films whilst typing up more story notes. That’s what I plan to do when I finish this post. I have Big Hero 6 on right now, I still don’t like the film that much but Baymax is still awesome. The scene at the police station is comedic genius, the tape and then Baymax acting like he’s drunk because he needs charging, funny beyond words. And him sitting there holding the cat, “hairy baby.”Like I said too funny for words.

I may not know how I feel or if I’m doing the right thing right now, or what to do about the final sticker for my Road to Euro 2016 album but I do know one thing for sure. The Book Thief is definitely the book I’m going to read next. I can test my theory as to whether or not the plot point which bugs me does so enough to compromise my enjoyment of it. After how trying The Man from Berlin has been it’ll be a nice change of pace, reading something which is very familiar. Plus it has a very pleasing easily readable feel to it anyway which will help. I’m down to the last eighty pages of The Man from Berlin now, all the pieces are starting to come together. I know who the killers are and for one of them I know the reason why. But I still don’t feel like I know the main character any better or understand his motivations. It just all feels very generic and it doesn’t do it’s setting any justice. The Kite Runner for example got me interested in Afghanistan and created a genuine enthusiasm for the country and it’s history.  And whilst I didn’t like the main character at all I was at least invested in finding out what happened to him. Not so with Gregor Reinhardt, I really don’t care. The only thing driving me to finish the book is my need to complete everything. Maybe The Kite Runner should be next on my list after The Book Thief, I haven’t read it in a while. Over Christmas I usually have a video game marathon but I’m not very interested in gaming right now. I think a stack of books is the way to go. It’ll be the better option I think, reading doesn’t give my mind the opportunity to wander like gaming does. Plus it’ll be good to have some screen free time and to make some headway on my ever growing to read pile. I got an unexpected gift today in the form of some extra Christmas money. I could be responsible and put it in the bank or I could visit the second hand book-store and pick up a few random and interesting titles. Obviously it’s the latter I’ve decided upon, I can be responsible in January. Right now I want to buy some more books.

2014: A Year in Books

I’m not going to list all 74 books I read last year, just the best, the worst and some of the more interesting. There are some old favourites among them such as The Book Thief, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Beware of God, HHhH, and Stasiland. The kind of books I end up reading every year and some of them like Stasiland at least twice a year.

How could The Book Thief not be a favourite of mine, it’s narrated by death and is set in Nazi Germany. Though its place at the top of my list of favourite books is in jeopardy after someone online pointed out a major flaw in the premise of the story which hadn’t occurred to me the first three times I read it. Now I can’t stop thinking about it, they are right, it makes no sense that the child of a communist would be unable to read.

It’s not easy to pick my favourite of the year, maybe Tor! The Story of German Football or Thirty One Nil: On the Road with Football’s Outsiders – A World Cup Odyssey or Germania.

The latter is definitely one I’m glad I stuck with, I wanted to stop reading it before I’d even reached the second chapter but I made myself stick with it and I’m very glad I did, so much so that I think I’ll read it again this year.

The first two are rather obvious choices, both of them being football related. The first one I think I would have read even if I didn’t like football and it would still would have been an engaging read. It was fascinating to read about how football developed in Germany, how all of the teams came about and the origins of the Bundesliga. I didn’t know before I read it that when Germany won the World Cup for the first time, that they didn’t have a professional league at the time. Just one of the many things I learnt from it.

Thirty One Nil is simply brilliant, as the title suggest it’s not about the football giants of the world, no Bundesliga, Premiership or Champions League here. It’s about the teams that other countries love to smash in international qualifying and the countries that don’t even get that far, countries like American Samoa for example which is who the title refers to (they got stuffed in a 31-0 defeat by Australia which is something probably everyone in the western hemisphere has heard about whether they follow football or not). A book about the real passion and love people have for football, a perfect antidote for anyone who is sick of hearing about overpaid footballers and how money corrupts the game and all the rest of it.

On the subject of books I’m glad I stuck with I once again attempted to read A Game of Thrones, my third attempt I think and this time I succeeded. I made it not only through the first book but the second as well. I’m currently debating about whether to read the third or not. It’s not easy to keep a track of everything that’s going on, especially when you don’t care for certain characters and it’s frustrating when your favourite characters from the show don’t have a big a role to play in the books as they do the TV series. Another annoyance is the level of detail, sometimes I don’t care for that and it’s tempting to just scan through pages and skip whole chapters sometimes. This applies to some characters more than others, Daenerys and Sansa for example. Though I’ve read online that Sansa does improve as a character later on and that her arc is very interesting.

Some disappointments of the year: The Secret Speech, Agent 6, The Farm, Alphabet House, Blood Relative, Cockroaches & And the Mountains Echoed.

I also didn’t enjoy The Strain much, but since I don’t know if that’s because Richard Sammel’s character from the show is not in the book or because I really didn’t like it, I’ll refrain from adding it to the above list. Same goes for Ostland, I’m not sure that I didn’t enjoy it; it just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be but I’m not sure why. Blood Relative which is by the same author definitely belongs on the list, I didn’t think it possible to make a book about the DDR boring yet that’s what he managed to do.

It wasn’t as tedious as Alphabet House, which achieved a similar feat, this one being about Nazis rather than the Stasi but just as boring and way too long. I don’t know if it’s down to the translation (it was written in Danish) or the fact that it’s the author’s first book. The author in question being Jussi Adler Olsen who I used to really like, until the third of his Department Q books that is. I’m surprised that he allowed it to be published in English, it’s nowhere as near as polished an effort as his later books and it really shows. It goes on and on, I’m sure it could have ended a good 200 pages before it actually did. And the plot moves at an excruciatingly slow pace which wouldn’t be so bad if couldn’t see everything that was going to happen. That’ll teach me for being taken in by a plot that involves Nazis and downed pilots sneaking onto a train.

Cockroaches is one of Jo Nesbo’s first books and it is as bad as Alphabet House was, so bad in fact that I’ve sworn not read any more of his Harry books.

The first three books listed are all by Tom Rob Smith, the first two being part of trilogy which begins with Child 44. That I enjoyed, yes it was a bit silly and fantastical, I didn’t read it as a serious book, just a fun crime thriller, a fun two day read. I can’t wait for the film and not just because Tom Hardy is in it. Luckily for me there are several people I like in the film, Vincent Cassel, Jason Clarke, Charles Dance, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Paddy Considine and Joel Kinnaman.

The other two are simply terrible; The Secret Speech started out ok but lost me with all the Call of Duty type stuff in the closing chapters. And Agent 6 was unbelievably bad and felt very rushed. I didn’t mind the jumping back and forth between countries; it was the obviousness of the plot and the fact that you don’t get any real sense of resolution. I hope he didn’t leave it that way so he could write another one, if he does write another one I hope he’ll spend a little more time on it.

He’s responsible for another disappointing summer read, The Farm. It’s not something I would usually read, I bought it because of Child 44 and because it’s good to try something different every now and then. I kept reading it, thinking it had to get good eventually, it doesn’t. I can’t think of a single good thing about it, other than the fact that it ended and I never have to read it again.

I read And the Mountains Echoed for similar reasons, I really enjoyed The Kite Runner and find Afghanistan very interesting so I was prepared to show some patience with it, which is good because I needed plenty of it. I wish I hadn’t because now I hate The Kite Runner as well which I previously would have considered a favourite. The reason being the self indulgence of the main character, this is a flaw shared by The Kite Runner but I was able to overlook it, not so with this one.

Nor do I like how the story is being told from so many different perspectives, I think some of them are kind of a drag on the development of the plot and add nothing to it. It bugs me that some narrative strands aren’t even resolved; we don’t get to find out what happens to certain characters. You can’t do that, spend several chapters introducing and letting us get to know someone and then have them disappear with no explanation whatsoever.

I wouldn’t say it was a favourite of mine, but I think it ranks as the most interesting thing I’ve read all year, Look Who’s Back. It’s a darkly funny and satirical look at the culture of celebrity and political apathy that seems so prevalent these days. I read it twice because I wasn’t sure that I’d fully gotten everything the first time around. Sometimes you read a book again and you hate it, this is one of those that gets better every time you read it.