TRCH - Aggers and Tuffers

6 Nottingham Books To Read

12 May 16 words: Book Reviews
With Jonathan Taylor, Sam Maxwell, Ana Salote, Tony Simpson and Helen Macdonald
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Melissa
Jonathan Taylor
£8.99 (Salt Publishing)
It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the titular Melissa dies at the beginning – everything that follows is a result of this. As she dies, all her neighbours experience a musical hallucination. The novel is based on a true story and the early part reads as a factual account. But once the hallucination is dealt with, the novel is straightforward. What happens to a family when its youngest member dies? What happens to a community when you share an event but can’t explain it? These are the questions Taylor asks and the result is a frank exploration of the devastation wrought by grief. Taylor writes women well: the two main ones, Melissa’s mother and half-sister, are sympathetic, yet complicated. Melissa is scathing about modern life, and brave about the human condition. Shortlisted for this year’s East Midlands Book Award, it’s well worth reading. Sue Barsby

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The Last Resort
Sam Maxfield
£8.99 (SP)
When a free-spirited artist called Stella is dragged back to the soggy coastal town of Mapton to look after estranged and cantankerous grandmother Gina, tensions soon bubble to the surface. This summertime comic jaunt across the generations rattles along with the help of a criminal mastermind dog, an OAP gang of motor scooter ruffians and the flourish of a risky romance, presenting us with laugh out loud moments, tenderness and real heartbreak. But, what shines through is Maxfield's ability to transport us back to a holiday past that many of us will fondly remember. Her prose is well-handled and her phrasing assured, weaving us in and out of the cafes and cockle-shelled gardens of a beautifully rendered seaside backdrop. This is a story of family and friendships which, ultimately, is as warm as the golden sand we feel between our toes. Great stuff. Andrew Graves

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Oy Yew
Ana Salote
£7.99 (Mother’s Milk Books)
Published by Nottingham’s very own Mother’s Milk Books, Oy Yew is the perfect novel for the whole family. The story follows the mysterious Oy and his friends through their journey of servantry at Duldred Hall, a contract only ended by reaching the height of five thighs and ten oggits. However, cruel Master Jeopardine feeds them little and keeps them small. The canny children realise more is amiss than they thought and beg the question, what really awaits those who grow and what is in the secret Bone Room? They teach each other the few skills they have and concoct a different way to gain their liberty. Undeniably a children’s gothic with a plot of friendship, loyalty and hope, Oy Yew includes the older readership with Inch’s ‘green baccy’ and the ridiculous coalescence of Jeopardine and height inspector Gwendalyn. Hear an interview with Mother’s Milk publisher Teika Bellamy on our WriteLion 11 podcast. Stacey Wylie

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One Belt, One Road
Ed Tony Simpson
£6 (Spokesman Press)
While Donald Trump continues to terrify everyone and Russia have been flattening Syria, China has been developing a ‘New Silk Road’ aimed at bringing greater ‘cooperation’ among countries in Eurasia. Naturally this has rattled the Yanks, who’ve called for Japan to jettison its constitutional commitment to “forever renounce war as a sovereign right”. And so issue 130 of The Spokesman throws up the usual blend of provocative essays, as well as Michael Rosen’s poem Don’t Mention the Children which refers to a banned advert in Israel listing names of children killed in Gaza. Given the Chinese theme, Ai Weiwei’s provocative list of schoolchildren who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake could have found a home here too. But the real gem in this collection is Nottingham’s grumpiest publisher, Ross Bradshaw, who has a thoroughly miserable but highly entertaining time at the Venice Biennale. Who needs Karl Pilkington when you can have An Ideologist Abroad? James Walker

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Sugar And Snails
Anne Goodwin
£8.99 (Inspired Quill)
Diana Dodsworth is a psychology lecturer whose early work promised much, but whose life has curdled into an unfulfilled middle age. Hiding a secret about her early years that could unravel what little peace she feels and lead her back into old habits of self-harm, Diana tries to keep both her professional career and the faltering flames of a romance alive. Flashbacks to her early life clue us in on the reasons for her fears, and the tortured adolescence that seems to come to a head in Cairo in her teenage years. Delicately treading its way through an issue that has been much in the headlines of late, this book is a touching character study of a woman badly scarred by life and by herself. Sugar And Snails shows us a woman coming to terms with who she is, who she was and who, once she weaves together the threads of her life, she might yet be. Robin Lewis

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H is for Hawk
Helen Macdonald
Vintage, £8.99
I can’t tell yer what I’d do if me ode man died cuz I dunt know who me ode man is. Lol. But I imagine I’d probleh rent aht the local and celebrate the passin’ wi’ some smelly egg sarnies and a buffet more orange than yours truleh. But this author went ahht an gor hersen a hawk when her ode man kicked it (she’s from Cambridge). Av yer ever ‘eard owt so wappy in yer life? And it worra proper hawk too, wi’ a beak and wings and stuff. Not a digical hawk, like one on them Tamagotchi pets everyone went mental abaht in nineties. Turns ahht that hawks, despite havin’ twisty head and lookin’ well mean, are thick as shite and can be conditioned ta do owt yer like. All she does is gee it a bit of food and it keeps comin’ back. Sound familiar girlz? Lol. Katie Half Price

 

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