Yep, it’s that time again! October means a book bonanza with Christmas around the corner (it’s already in the shops). So here is my wishlist for awesome sounding books released this month in Australia. If you’re elsewhere, you may have to wait or you may be lucky to already have access to them. The publishers mentioned are also those for Australia – click on the hyperlinks to find out more about the book.
So, Anyway… by John Cleese
From the publisher (Random House):
Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter’s Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python.
Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese’s thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.
My thoughts: IT’S JOHN CLEESE! MONTY PYTHON! FAWLTY TOWERS! This is going to be wonderfully, fantastically funny and great and awesome and brilliant and wonderful and…everything. John Cleese is hilarious on screen, in real life (I saw him on a recent tour of Australia) and now I can have his thoughts as BOOKS. Only downside is I need to wait until the 15th of the month.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
From the publisher (Pan Macmillan):
It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them. Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true. Colm Tóibín’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience.
My thoughts: I loved Brooklyn and enjoy stories set in Ireland at this time. It’s going to be a beautiful read.
Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
From the publisher (Harper Collins):
For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham – the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls – as one of the brightest and most original writers working today. Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition. – Miranda July Lena Dunham is many, many things. Creator, actor, producer and writer of the award-winning cult television show Girls, but the first thing you have to know about Lena is that she’s unafraid to say exactly what she thinks. She’s also provocative, very funny, original, dead-pan, disturbing, neurotic, simultaneously deep and shallow, and often way, way out there. This book is a collection of her experiences, stories that have, as she describes them, little baby morals: about dieting, about dressing, about friendship and existential crises. These are stories that most twenty something year old girls will be able to relate to: about the guys she’s let sleep in her bed who didn’t really want to fuck her, about getting her butt touched at an internship and having to prove herself in a meeting full of 50-year-old men. It’s all about trying to work out what to wear, what to say and how to be, every single day. And if I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile. I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when some guy suddenly got weird and defensive talking about your cool interests and job. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist or a dietician. I am not a happily married woman or the owner of a successful support hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, sending hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.
My thoughts: So I don’t watch Girls, but I have enjoyed reading Dunham’s features/interviews in magazines. Plus, it sounds funny and that cover! Love it.
Their Lips Talk of Mischief by Alan Warner
From the publisher (Allen & Unwin):
High up in the Conrad Flats that loom bleakly over Acton, two future stars of the literary scene – or so they assume – are hard at work, tapping out words of wit and brilliance between ill-paid jobs writing captions for the Cat Calendar 1985 and blurbs for trashy novels with titles like Brothel of the Vampire. Just twenty-one but already well entrenched in a life eked out on dole payments, pints and dollops of porridge and pasta, Llewellyn and Cunningham don’t have it too bad: a pub on the corner, a misdirected parental allowance, and the delightful company of Aoife, Llewellyn’s model fiance, mother of his young baby – and the woman of Cunningham’s increasingly vivid dreams.
My thoughts: I love stories about writers, growing up and being a bit directionless. Plus the cover evokes rainy nights out on the town.
Miss Carter’s War by Sheila Hancock
From the publisher (Bloomsbury):
It is 1948 and Britain is struggling to recover from the Second World War. Half French, half English, Marguerite Carter, young and beautiful, has lost her parents and survived a terrifying war, working for the SOE behind enemy lines. Leaving her partisan lover she returns to England to be one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge. Now she pins back her unruly auburn curls, draws a pencil seam up her legs, ties the laces on her sensible black shoes, belts her grey gabardine mac and sets out towards her future as an English teacher in a girls’ grammar school. For Miss Carter has a mission – to fight social injustice, to prevent war and to educate her girls. Through deep friendships and love lost and found, from the peace marches of the fifties and the flowering of the Swinging Sixties, to the rise of Thatcher and the battle for gay rights, to the spectre of a new war, Sheila Hancock has created a powerful, panoramic portrait of Britain through the life of one very singular woman.
My thoughts: Oh that coat has me hooked! I love stories set post-WWII and the sixties, so I know I’ll love this.
Have you read any of these books? Have I ignited any lemmings here?