A story of love, nuclear terror and Philip Larkin
Born at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 'at the very moment when the world looked most as if it were going to blow itself up', Nicholas has spent his life in terror of atomic meltdown. Now, on the eve of his 48th birthday, he is on an overnight coach ride to join an anti-nuclear rally at Faslane in Scotland.
His fellow travellers remind him of his younger self at Hull University in the 1980s -- a time he spent under the twin clouds of unrequited love and apocalyptic terror. As the coach rumbles through the night, the floodgates of memory open, and Nicholas begins to scrawl episodes from his past into a notebook. At first these memories -- sometimes poignant, sometimes comic, and often involving Philip Larkin -- appear almost random. But in time a picture emerges: of a thwarted first love, and a fragile mind struggling to keep hold of sanity in a world that seems headed for annihilation.
This delightful, eccentric novel and its tragi-comic hero will be relished by mavericks and misfits, rebels and renegades the world over.
17 June 1959.It's Election Day in Ireland, but Ann Strong has other things on her mind. Terrified of miscarriage after losing her last baby, she is admitted into the labour ward of St Gerard's hospital. Outside, her husband Fonsie waits anxiously with four other fathers-to-be. Men of their time, they scarcely speak to each other. But their children, born together on this day, will grow up in a changed world that questions and connects.
31 December 1961. Gavin Bloom is floor manager on the first ever live television broadcast in Ireland. It's a prestigious job, but a part of him feels a fraud. Though talking is what he does best, there is one thing Gavin never speaks about -- not even to himself.
10 October 1964. Dom, a brash, clever, reckless politician with a beautiful wife, sees himself as an Irish JFK. When he is prosecuted for drunk driving, his career seems to be over. But then he and the policeman who has charged him come face to face in court. They don't exchange a word, but something happens between them that changes Dom's life and propels him to help change the life of every child in the country.
Unspoken charts the interlocking stories of a group of unforgettable characters through the 1960s, a tumultuous decade during which Ireland threw off some ancient shackles yet assumed other, more modern ones. Alive with character and understated ambition, it is both a magnificent work of literature and an absolute delight.
10 May 1930. A dinner party that will decide the future.
Emilio, Arturo and Nina, the woman they both love, speed through the hills of Lombardy towards an exclusive party. The guest of honour will be F. T. Marinetti, the Father of Futurism, who has promised an extraordinary evening -- and a meal that will revolutionise Italian cuisine.
The two men, struggling painters whose rivalry simmers beneath the surface of their friendship, hope the party will launch their careers. But success in Mussolini's Italy will force impossible dilemmas on both. Arturo must choose between his love for Nina and his gnawing ambition. Emilio, haunted by his last visit to his elderly uncle -- in hospital after being brutally beaten up for his socialist views -- must decide whether he can live with himself if he yields to the temptations of the regime.
For Nina, the stakes are even higher. Her husband has disappeared, trailing dangerous rumours of his involvement in a plot against the Duce. And at the party there is a man from her past -- the reptilian Commendatore Scaglia -- who has good reason to wish her harm.
In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a Fascist dictatorship, dreams of a modernist future collide with the realities of life under a repressive regime, and the evening ticks inexorably towards violent confrontation.
Englishman John Russell is a member of the foreign press corps in Berlin and a first-hand witness to the brutal machinations of Hitler and the Nazi party in the build-up to war during the early months of 1939. Unlike many of his colleagues, Russell wishes to remain in Berlin for as long as possible to be close to Effi, his glamorous actress girlfriend, and above all to Paul, his eleven-year-old son who lives with his estranged German wife. When an old acquaintance turns up at his lodging house, Russell's life begins to change. Gradually he is persuaded by a combination of threats, financial need and appeals to his conscience to become a spy first for the Soviet Union and then, simultaneously, for the British. The grimness, the constant fear and the skin-deep glitter of pre-war Berlin alleviated by atmospheric excursions to Prague, Danzig, London and the Baltic seashore form a rich backdrop as Russell, a reluctant hero and saviour for some, treads along ever narrowing lines between the Russians, the British and the Gestapo.
Milo Burke -- husband to a 'touched-out' wife, father to a three-year-old son, fund-raising officer at a third-tier university -- has just joined the swelling ranks of the unemployed. As he grasps after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is contacted by Purdy Stuart, a wealthy, one-time university friend with a sinister agenda. It is the start of a hilarious and harrowing odyssey through several degrees of peculiarly 21st-century hell -- a journey recorded by Milo with the caustic eloquence that is his only means of defence. The Ask is the best book yet from one of America's finest comic writers, an author who can prompt Chuck Palahniuk to write: 'I laughed out loud -- and I never laugh out loud'. A critical sensation on both sides of the Atlantic, this is a ridiculously accomplished, ridiculously entertaining novel that sympathises even as it skewers.
In July 1939 Russell returns to Berlin as the newly-appointed Central European correspondent of an American newspaper. With his communist past, German son and English-American parentage he's the perfect catch for any of Europe's warring espionage services, and none will take no for an answer. Through the long Berlin summer, through trips to Prague, Warsaw and Moscow tracking Europe s descent into war, Russell seeks to satisfy his secret masters, protect his girlfriend Effi and his son Paul, and retain some sense of his fragile integrity. And if this wasn't difficult enough, a friend needs his help in finding the missing Jewish niece of an employee. With a whole continent headed for self-immolation, saving just one person shouldn t be so difficult..
It is November 1941. Anglo-American John Russell is living in Berlin, tied to the increasingly alien city by his love for two Berliners: his fourteen-year-old son, Paul, and his actress girlfriend, Effi. One of a small and dwindling handful of permitted and much-censored American journalists, Russell has found himself pushed into serving as a point of contact between the anti-Nazi Abwehr and American intelligence. But his real work, as he now sees it, revolves around one crucial question what fate awaits those Berliner Jews who are now being shipped to the east? His investigation has already brought him into perilous proximity with the local communist underground, and will soon involve him in a celebrity murder with global ramifications. As Russell and Effi edge closer to some very dangerous truths, feuding German intelligence services and America's imminent entry into the war further complicate their struggle to outfox and outlive Hitler's Reich
April 1945. Hitler's Reich is on the verge of extinction, and its enemies are already plotting against each other. Assaulted by Allied bombs and Soviet shells, ruled by Nazis with nothing to lose, Berlin has become the most dangerous place on earth.
Anglo-American journalist John Russell has travelled to Moscow, having escaped from Berlin in 1941 as America entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Russell's eighteen-year-old son Paul, born to a German mother, is on the Oder front line, awaiting the final Soviet onslaught, ready to retreat towards Berlin, and resigned to the certain prospect of either death or imprisonment. Inside Berlin, Russell's girlfriend Effi has a Jewish orphan to care for, and the Gestapo on her trail. The advancing Red Army promises liberation, but is also seeking retribution, particularly from German women.
To find and save his son and girlfriend, Russell must reach Berlin no later than the Red Army. But only the Soviets can get him there, and the price of their help will threaten both his and the world's future.
This is, I believe, a moral tale. It goes far to prove the revolutionary axiom that if you wish to destroy a nation you must corrupt its currency. Thus must sound money be the first bastion of a society's defence.< < In 1923, with its currency effectively worthless (the exchange rate in December of that year was one dollar to 4,200,000,000,000 marks), the Weimar Republic was all but reduced to a barter economy. Expensive cigars, artworks and jewels were routinely exchanged for staples such as bread; a cinema ticket could be bought for a lump of coal, and a bottle of paraffin for a silk shirt. In desperation, the Bavarian Prime Minister submitted a Bill to the Reichsrat proposing that gluttony be made a penal offence, his exact definition of a glutton being 'one who habitually devotes himself to the pleasures of the table to such a degree that he might arouse discontent in view of the distressful condition of the population'.< < Since its first publication in 1975, When Money Dies has become the classic history of these bizarre and frightening times. Weaving elegant analysis with a wealth of eyewitness accounts by ordinary people struggling to survive, it deals above all with the human side of inflation: why governments resort to it, the dismal, corruptive pestilence it visits on their citizens, the agonies of recovery, and the dark, long-term legacy. And at a time of acute economic strain, it provides an urgent warning against the addictive dangers of pinting money -- shorthand for deficit financing -- as a soft option for governments faced with growing unrest and unemployment.
Could you fall in love with the man who killed your family?< It is eighteen years since Danni's husband and three-year-old son were killed by an IRA bomb in central Glasgow, and she still can't move on from the tragedy that has blighted her life. As a fresh wave of violence sweeps through Ireland, she decides she needs revenge.< A journey into the dark heart of the Belfast underworld brings her face to face with the sinister Pearson and his enigmatic, one-time accomplice Johnny. As Danni struggles to hold onto her sense of purpose in a world where the idealist and the psychopath seem indistinguishable, she is drawn into a battle to save the life of Stella, a young prostitute. But who is Johnny and why is he helping her? Did he plant the bomb that killed her family? And most disturbingly, what exactly are her feelings for him?< Fast-paced, emotionally pitch-perfect and with a heart-wrenching ending, Kiss the Bullet is a page-turner as gripping, intelligent and satisfying as they come.
CAPE TOWN: winter. A wealthy Native American couple, looking to invest in a local casino development. A German weapons scientist, on the run from a gang of Eastern European thugs. Ordinary enough security jobs for Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso, it seems, but when one of the Americans is kidnapped and a local reporter starts showing too much interest in the scientist's murky Balkan past, things quickly spiral out of control.< Mace, raw from the murder of his wife, soon finds himself fighting for his own survival while struggling to hold onto his grief-stricken teenage daughter. Behind the scenes, everywhere and nowhere, the beautiful and sinister Sheemina February pulls the strings, stalking him at every turn, intent on revenge for past misdeeds. Mace's only hope is to find her before she gets to him . . .< A razor-sharp thriller, a devastating portrait of political corruption and featuring an exquisitely nasty villain, Black Heart is a stylish, unmissable entertainment.
What would you do if you were invisible to your husband and your teenage son? How would you feel if they no longer spoke to you; if you knew your husband had had an affair? And what if your mother, a life-long alcoholic, had just suffered a stroke and become completely dependent on you? Above all, what if you were nurturing a secret grief so bitter and painful that it was consuming you from within?< Now imagine that one day you won £30,000. Would you take the money and walk away?< When Carol Ann disappears without trace from her middle-class life in Scotland, she leaves behind a troubled family struggling to come to terms with their past. But the secrets that drove them apart follow her to a new life in Ireland, where she is pursued by memories, particularly of the mysterious Josie. But who was Josie and why does she have such power over the family?< In this stunning debut, award-winning journalist Catherine Deveney explores the loneliness, secrets and silences that can haunt even the most loving of families -- and shows how some bonds, against all odds, can never be broken.
A stunner . . . an unforgettable novel' SUNDAY TIMES
'A crisp and chilling account of temptation and transgression that fans of Patricia Highsmith will adore' INDEPENDENT
'A fascinating, succinct and stylish thriller from Italy' GUARDIAN
'Raises the standard for crime fiction. Carofiglio's insights into human nature, good and bad, are breathtaking' JEFFERY DEAVER
One hot summer, as world-weary bloodhound Lieutenant Chiti spends sleepless nights hunting for the serial sex attacker terrorising his city, trainee lawyer Giorgio is befriended by dangerously charismatic Francesco. Slowly the innocent Giorgio is lured into a corrupt world of beautiful women, card sharps and casual violence, in dingy poker dens and luxury villas. Then one terrifying night Giorgio is forced to realise just how far he has left his past behind...< The Past is a Foreign Country is a stunning psychological thriller< from an acknowledged master at the height of his powers.
A wise, illuminating little book' Sydney Morning Herald'An entertaining, learned piece of historical compression' The Age'Great stuff . . . the book as a whole is constantly thought-provoking' Courier Mail'Beautifully and sparely constructed, yet rich in fact, feeling and detail -- sweeping, challenging and funny' James Button'The balance of analysis and description, generalisation and specific instance, is beautifully maintained' ABRDescribing the birth of European civilisation from an unlikely mixture of three elements - classical learning, Christianity and German warrior culture - The Shortest History of Europe begins with a rapid historical overview from the ancient Greeks to the dawn of the modern era.In each later chapter, the author returns to explore in more detail one aspect of Europe's remarkable history: its political evolution; its linguistic boundaries and their defining influence; the crucial role played by power struggles between Pope and Emperor; and the great invasions and conquests that have transformed the continent. Along the way we meet a cast of highly distinctive characters, from pious knights to belligerent popes, from German romantics spouting folklore to French revolutionaries imitating their Roman heroes.Written with clarity, feeling and wit, The Shortest History of Europe is a tour-de-force of compression: it will be read in an afternoon, but remembered for a lifetime.
Mike Nicol is one of the brightest thriller writing talents to have emerged in the last decade, and the Mace and Pylon novels are as good as any being written in the field today. This is not just superb genre writing: it is superb writing, period, and proves that the thriller, at its best, can both entertain and provoke, while tackling serious issues with the lightest of touches. Read Mike Nicol now, before everyone else starts telling you how wonderful he is' JOHN CONNOLLY
'Mike Nicol is the rapidly rising star of South African crime fiction. His novels have everything I love about the genre in just the right amount: shady characters, twists, turns, murder, mayhem, humour, wonderful dialogue, white-knuckle pace and lots of authentic Cape Town colour.' Deon Meyer
'Watch out Elmore Leonard, here comes Mike Nicol, who scores 10/10 for this gritty, fast-paced thriller about revenge ... Payback has it all: murder, sex, drugs, crooked cops, greedy developers and revenge ... Nicol has captured perfectly the dark underbelly of life in Cape Town. Payback is so realistic you can almost taste the dagga and smell the cordite after the bombs explode ... You won't be able to put it down until you've read the last line.' Southern Mail Read of the Week
'The dialogue is brilliant, the writing too, and Payback has perhaps the coolest ending one is likely to find anywhere' Mail and Guardian
'Exceptional ... Nicol is a talent deserving a wide international recognition' The Wekender
'A heady mix, and Nicol stirs it with vigour, inventiveness [and] wit ... Payback is a great read, pacy, cool, hard-bitten and hard-hitting. The laconic, street-smart style is so convincingly laid-back that it may blind readers to the artistry of the writing, which is taut and economical' Sunday Independent
'In the top rung of South African fiction writers ... Nicol s clipped dialogue and sparse, high-impact prose recalls that of revered American recluse Cormac McCarthy' The Citizen
'South Africa joins the hard-boiled stakes, and in a wondrous dazzling humorous novel. Imagine Elroy joining forces with Chester Himes, Coffin Ed, and Gravedigger, throw in the spectacular landscape of South Africa, and you ll get some sense of this wild and daring novel. One prays this is the first in a series if Tom Sharpe wrote mystery, this would be it.' Ken Bruen
More than a decade after the end of Apartheid, ex-gun-runners Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso are trying to settle down to a comfortable Cape existence. But when an old contact calls in a favour, they become embroiled once again in the country's violent underworld of crime and corruption -- and with the lethal Islamist organisation PAGAD. A gripping tale of narcotics, arms-dealing and international intrigue, PAYBACK heralds the arrival of a major new crime-writing talent.
Mike Nicol is one of the brightest thriller writing talents to have emerged in the last decade, and the Mace and Pylon novels are as good as any being written in the field today. This is not just superb genre writing: it is superb writing, period, and proves that the thriller, at its best, can both entertain and provoke, while tackling serious issues with the lightest of touches. Read Mike Nicol now, before everyone else starts telling you how wonderful he is' JOHN CONNOLLY'If you have to spend a weekend with only one book for company, take Killer Country' Sunday Independent'Shady characters, twists, turns, murder, mayhem, humour, wonderful dialogue, white-knuckle pace -- everything I love about crime fiction in just the right amount' Deon Meyer'A magnificent thriller. Nicol strips his prose of ornamentation and achieves an extraordinary emotional energy out of his characters and their ordeals. This is language with muscle.' Rapport'World class . . . pace, wonderful characters and brilliant dialogue' Elle'Mike Nicol is a talent deserving wide international recognition' The Weekender'Watch out Elmore Leonard, here comes Mike Nicol' Southern Mail'A heady mix, and Nicol stirs it with vigour, inventiveness and wit . . . The laconic, street-smart style is so convincingly laid-back that it may blind readers to the artistry of the writing, which is taut and economical Independent'In the top rung . . . Nicol's clipped dialogue and sparse, high-impact prose recalls that of revered American recluse Cormac McCarthy' The Citizen
Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso run a security agency, protecting wealthy tourists from the violence on Cape Town's streets -- all the while hoping their own shady pasts won't catch up with them.But when they try to invest some dirty money in a lucrative property deal, they clash with a new and dangerous set of enemies: Obed Chocho, corrupt politician par excellence, and Spitz, a ruthless hitman who kills with mechanical efficiency.And somewhere behind it all is an old adversary, Sheemina February, looking to settle a score from the bad old days . . .
The global economy has fallen to pieces like a cheap jigsaw puzzle in an earthquake. Now it is time for the financial world to pick up the baton of change, hold it proudly above its head, and club some sense into itself with it.< Luckily Andy Zaltzman -- comedian and economics novice extraordinaire - is here to help. In this much-needed and hilarious companion to the crisis, he confronts the big issues side-on. Questions answered and/or dodged include:< Is human life still economically viable?< What face should a politician pull whilst discussing the economy?< If you put an infinite number of monkeys in the London Stock Exchange, would the markets go up or down?
'Utterly engrossing. I found myself drawn into Schiele's reeling world with its reek< of wet paint and sex.' Jon McGregor, author of< If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things< 'Doesn't shrink from depicting the squalor of Schiele's existence and powerfully evokes his uncompromising talent' Guardian
The son of a railway inspector, Schiele rejects his bourgeois upbringing and flees in pursuit of artistic fulfilment. When he gains admission to the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, it seems that a glittering career lies ahead of him. But Schiele's talent drives him to portray the moral and physical squalor of the Habsburg capital, and he is rejected by an indignant and hypocritical art world. Forced to endure acute poverty and even imprisonment, Schiele continues to pursue his artistic mission, and in the last months of his life finally finds acclaim with those who had shunned him. In a lavish first novel of rare descriptive power and empathy, fuelled by a blend of research and literary imagination, Crofts succeeds in evoking the man as well as the artist. The result is a masterful, at times heartbreaking portrayal of Austria's most decadent and most misunderstood painter, and of the city which both inspired and destroyed him.
Everyone knows that the best things in life are free . . but it's easy to forget in a world of constant advertising and competitive consumerism. 102 Free Things to Do is a warm, wise and witty reminder that almost everything that really matters can be done on less than a shoestring.< Beautifully illustrated, always entertaining and full of surprising nuggets of advice and information, this is one of those rare books that might just change your life. Or at least make you feel a bit more like getting out of bed in the morning.
"If I had urinated immediately after breakfast, the Mob would never have burnt down the Orphanage." So begins the acclaimed, prize-winning tale of Jude, a Tipperary-reared orphan who on his 18th birthday sets off to discover the wide world and his true parentage. His picaresque adventures take him first to the "Sodom of the West" - Galway - where he falls in love, encounters temptations galore and, disguised as Stephen Hawking, unwittingly blows up the HQ of a Multi-National Corporation - and himself. Jude hotfoots it to Dublin, in pursuit of Angela, ex-Galway chip-shop employee and his True Love. A spectacular, riotous chase through the city of Ulysses ensues, transformed by Gough's talent into a dazzling metaphor of 21st century violence, alienation and progress.
Franglais is the ultimate invented language. A source of unending delight to anyone who did French at school, it is the creation of the great English humorist Miles Kington. This new collection brings together the best pieces written in the two-and-a-half decades up to the author's tragic death in 2008. Each appears in paperback for the first time, with more than 50 specially commissioned illustrations by Wendy Hoile. These 101 comic masterpieces provide a timeless survey of the British character in all its eccentricity. Page after page is filled with hilariously recognizable send-ups of our national life, from Wimbledon to Windsor Safari Park, grouse-shooting to Guy Fawkes' night, the library to the lost property office. In no time even the most linguistically challenged reader will be thinking, speaking and dreaming Franglais. For, in the words of the grand-maître himself: 'Parler franglais c'est un doddle!'
Everyone knows we're a nation obsessed with runners-up and near-missers, that we find failure heroic and success boring, if not downright rude. In this hilarious, fact-packed and up-to-date compendium, vintage losers such as Ethelred 'the Unready' and Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards jostle with newcomers on the failure scene like Sir Fred Goodwin, who blithely steered RBS into the distinctly unwelcoming arms of the British tax-payer. Alongside these stellar losers are many lesser-known gems of national inadequacy, such as the actor Robert Coates, who was so bad that in 1816 several audience members injured themselves laughing -- during a performance of Rowe's death-filled tragedy The Fair Penitent. Great British Losers is a book for the twisted patriot that lurks inside us all. It'll make you laugh, and perhaps even cry -- at least with rage. In the end, it may even make you proud to be British. Well, kind of...
A COMIC EPIC FOR ANYONE WHO LOVES RODDY DOYLE, P.G. WODEHOUSE, BECKETT AND KAFKA, BUT WISHES THEIR BOOKS HAD MORE EXPLOSIONS...
'The Death of the Author is on your conscience!'
It was. 'Sorry,' I said.
Jude is a penniless Irish orphan, fighting blizzards, bankers and the laws of physics as he walks the length of England. He has not one, but two Quests: to find his True Love -- last glimpsed in the hairy clutches of a monkey -- and to uncover the Secret of his Origins.
Within hours of arriving in London, Jude has floored the monkey, won the Turner Prize, battled The Thing, and killed the Poet Laureate. Before the day is out he will be seduced, shot at, kidnapped, and forced to discuss literature with a crowd of Guinness-guzzling authors.
But can he fulfill his destiny in the labyrinth of the city, with its ten million temptations?
'What a day! And I never got my cup of tea.'
'Sheer comic brilliance' The Times
'Julian Gough is a wonderful writer' Sebastian Barry
'Julian Gough gives a new shine to an antique mode, the Quixotic picaresque, as he relates the antic adventures of a Tipperary orphan. It's clever, it's nuts, and there are moments of comic greatness' Kevin Barry, Irish Times, Books of the Year, 2007
'Clever and laugh-out-loud hilarious' Mail on Sunday
'This is funny. It is also, possibly, quite serious. Certainly, it endears' Irish Times
'Gough's novel is like the picaresque bastard love-child of Flann O Brien and Matt Groening, and yet is all Julian Gough. Possibly the finest comic novel to come out of Ireland since At Swim Two Birds, it recounts the story of Jude, an orphan, as he wanders through Ireland in a quest to find his true love and uncover the secret behind his parentage . . . Gough makes it look easy, with an instinctive sense of timing, and a razor sharp and subversive intellect' Sunday Tribune, Books of the Year, 2007
Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Mark Gertler, Richard Nevinson and Dora Carrington were five of the most exciting, influential and innovative British artists of the twentieth century. From diverse backgrounds, they met in the years before the Great War as students at the Slade School of Art, where they formed part of what their teacher Henry Tonks described as the school's last 'crisis of brilliance'. To the Bloomsbury Group critic Roger Fry they were 'les jeunes' -- the 'Young British Artists' of their day. As their talents evolved, they became Futurists, Vorticists and 'Bloomsberries', and befriended the leading writers and intellectuals of the time, from Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke to D. H. Lawrence and Katherine Mansfield. They led the way in fashion with their avant-garde clothes and haircuts; they slept with their models and with prostitutes; their tempestuous love affairs descended into obsession, murder and suicide. And as Europe plunged into the madness of the 'War to end Wars', they responded to its horror with all the passion and genius they could muster.Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Mark Gertler, Richard Nevinson and Dora Carrington were five of the most exciting, influential and innovative British artists of the twentieth century. From diverse backgrounds, they met in the years before the Great War as students at the Slade School of Art, where they formed part of what their teacher Henry Tonks described as the school's last 'crisis of brilliance'. To the Bloomsbury Group critic Roger Fry they were 'les jeunes' -- the 'Young British Artists' of their day. As their talents evolved, they became Futurists, Vorticists and 'Bloomsberries', and befriended the leading writers and intellectuals of the time, from Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke to D. H. Lawrence and Katherine Mansfield. They led the way in fashion with their avant-garde clothes and haircuts; they slept with their models and with prostitutes; their tempestuous love affairs descended into obsession, murder and suicide. And as Europe plunged into the madness of the 'War to end Wars', they responded to its horror with all the passion and genius they could muster.