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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

How I l Live Now by Meg Rosoff

I don't do much by way of book reviews but I am happy to post this one. I bought this book through a recommendation from a respected source but I very nearly didn't.
The cover of the edition I got is shown on the left; you can see that it wouldn't necessarily appeal to a middle-aged man.
However after dipping in and reading a few pages I was intrigued. I'm glad I did because it turned out to be not at all what I expected. It's hard to categorise and I won't attempt to because that might become a spolier. It is about a fifteen year old girl but even the cover blurb steers you in the wrong direction but humour, strong characterisation and storyline  takes you to a place that you are not expecting to go. It's many themes include displacement, starvation, getting by in a crisis and examining a possible future. My one crticism is that I wish it was about 50 pages longer allowing some of the themes to become more developed.
I would recommend the book to teenage girls but I would equally to anyone who simply enjoys good writing.
In his book How to Write a Novel, John Braine said 'write what you know' and Meg Rosoff's book is testament to that dictum as a brief biographical enquiry revealed. I'm off to buy the next one at the weekend!
Meg Rosoff (photo by Helen Giles)


joanne fox said...

My copy has a different cover and is much less girly! I love this book, and have lent it to 2 friends who loved it too, though clearly we are all well past our teens.

I think Meg Rosoff is one of those writers you could read as a teenager and enjoy, but maybe if you read it when you're older you appreciate that the things she describes are occuring somewhere in this world even if not in England. Sorry that's a rambling sentence - it's my enthusiasm for her work carrying me away.

'What I Was' is also good, though a gentler read.

David said...

Dear bazza,
I have not read this book, so may well give it a go.
In return, might I recommend to you James Ellroy's "American Underworld" trilogy- "American Tabloid", "The Cold 6,000" and "Blood's a Rover", an altogether more blokey, but brilliant set of books.
Ellroy's style, with its short sentences and use of a sort of hip American slang, is perhaps a little difficult to get to grips with at first. The plots also are often complex, if not labyrinthine. Once you get the hang of it though, you may come to the same conclusion as I have- that Ellroy is the greatest crime writer around, and may well be a genius. I would certainly list him in a "My Heroes" blog if I did one.
Yours with All the Best,

Lesley said...

This is one of my all time favourite books and one of the few to make me cry. Meg Rosoff is one of our most outstanding authors for young people and it's great to see adults discovering her too. I think the new covers do the books a huge disservice, making them look all Jodi Picoult, when the original covers reflected some of the complexity of the narratives and writing. Do read The Bride's Farewell, her latest, and look out for the forthcoming There is No Dog.

THE SNEE said...

Hi Bazza,
I was just scouring my just emptied book box for a good read, so instead, I think I'll take a walk to the library to check this one out...I agree, the current cover illustration does not do anything to lure in anyone over the age of 40. I love to read good well written stories though no matter to what age the stories are directed.

Kelly said...

Sounds like a book with substance and something real to say. I like books like that... Especially when they have a healthy dose of humor added to the mix.

joanne said...

thanks for the recommendation... I'm glad to hear a middle aged man didn't let a girly cover scare him off :)

days like today i wonder if i've ever moved past 15... other days i wonder if i knew more at 15 than i do now.

bazza said...

Joanne Fox: Mine was bought recently Joanne. I don't think Meg's publishers have done the best for her.
I think it's true that an older reader will pick up on things that a younger one might not. I like all creative things that can appeal on multiple levels. Even the Simpsons managed to do that well.
'What I Was' is next!

bazza said...

David: I can't guarantee you will like it of course.
I think maybe I should read something 'blokey' now in case I start going all silly and girly!
I am familar with James Ellroy's work and I do enjoy it. I haven't read any of that trilogy though so I'll look them up. Thanks for that, David.

bazza said...

Hello Lesley and welcome. Are you her agent!? I checked out some of the various covers and it's very interesting and illustrates the importance of the cover design. Thank you for your informative input and suggestion.

Hiya Snee: I agree so much that good writing is what matters most. Sarah Waters is a British author whose work was, at first, referred to as Lesbian fiction, which is ridiculous; she is simply an excellent writer.(Tipping The Velvet, Fingersmith etc).

bazza said...

Kelly: Hello there. I have to say that the humour/humor (note to self - must do another post about US versus British English) is not of the laugh-out-loud variety more of the knowing inward smile type.

Joanne: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now" (Bob Dylan).

Meg Rosoff said...

Ah, the cover debate. I'm afraid I'm with you, Bazza. Not my favourite cover. Am very honoured and pleased that you read the book anyway. Thank you.

joanne fox said...

Saying 'Hi' to Meg Rosoff in case she visits here again!

bazza said...

Joanne, it's a nice honour to have Meg visit here but I have to admit I did ask her to! She has visited before and not commented.
Several years ago, in my previous blog, I posted about Fiona Pitt-Kethley and the poet paid a visit, which was a pleasant surprise.

joanne fox said...

Clearly all the best people hang out at your blog Bazza!

I got The Bride's Farewell from our local library today and am really looking forward to reading it.

Ruthie said...

Dad, can I borrow your copy or was it a library one? x

bazza said...

Hi Ruthie. It's my own copy. I'll give it to you on Sunday.
Luv Dadddy xxx

Sir Tom Eagerly said...

Bazza old thing, I've always had my doubts about you and now I'm really worried. Even your little girl wants to read it! Ask you doc for some testosterone pills and then you might start writing about real authors like Jeffrey Archer or that terrific Dan Brown fellow.
Blood and guts dear boy, that's the way forward.
Tally ho!

Meg Rosoff said...

Hi, back, Joanne. I always hate it when people say "Oh, I love your blog, but I never comment." But it always does feel a little bit stalk-y to comment on your own book.....

bazza said...

Sir Tom, there's no need to worry about me! My 'little girl' has kids of her own. I can't stand the work of Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown may be a good storyteller but, in my opinion, he is an awful writer.

Hello again, Meg. Can't stay away eh?

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
Apologies for such a late arrival to the festivities on your blog.
I'm not familiar with this book. However, based on your appraisal, I shall check it out.
Yes 'Meg', I promise.
Before I go, I know, you are saddened by such a thought, I think Jeffrey Archer's writing prowess is right up there with Katie Price. Nuff said.
"Clearly all the best people hang out at your blog Bazza!" Thank you, Joanne, very kind of you to note.
Have a good weekend, bazza.
Kind wishes, klahanie aka Gary :-)

bazza said...

Gary, as so often is the case, your comment really made me smile.
Of course you are one of the 'best' people that Joanne refers to! (Note to self: must stop using so many exclamation marks).
By the way, I notice that you put punctuation marks around Megs name as if it were artificial; it really is her.
Have a great weekend, Gary.

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
Don't you just hate folks who use the exclamation mark for some ridiculous dramatic effect? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway, bazza, I used punctuation marks around 'Meg's' name to emphasise acknowledgement of her name. I had no doubt at all that it was the lady in question. Sorry for any confusion!!!!! doh...:-)

bazza said...

joanne fox: I jusr realised that I didn't acknowledge your third comment; how rude of me.
Perhaps when you finish The Brides Farewell you might post a review?

Gary: Yes I do dislike that and I was beginning to turn in to one of them.

joanne fox said...

Hi Bazza - don't worry, I wasn't keeping count!

Gary, naturally you were included in my 'best people' comment - no doubt about it.

In fact I finished The Bride's Farewell last night and will be starting it again tonight. Maybe I will review it, although things keep cropping up and I am several posts behind where I planned to be with my blog. First I must really write up a talk I went to last week by novelist Robert Goddard.

Ciao for now.

bazza said...

Joanne: Ciao! Hasta la vista (oh I think that's Spanish)

bookwitch said...

Photo credit for the picture of Meg that you've used should be Helen Giles.