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My Holiday Reading list 2016

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    Pond

    Feverish and forthright, Pond is an absorbing chronicle of the pitfalls and pleasures of a solitudinous life told by an unnamed woman living on the cusp of a coastal town. Broken bowls, belligerent cows, swanky aubergines, trembling moonrises and horrifying sunsets, the physical world depicted in these stories is unsettling yet intimately familiar and soon takes on a life of its own. Captivated by the stellar charms of seclusion but restless with desire, the woman's relationship with her surroundings becomes boundless and increasingly bewildering. Claire-Louise Bennett's startlingly original first collection slips effortlessly between worlds and is by turns darkly funny and deeply moving.

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    Transit

    In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions - personal, moral, artistic, practical - as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life. Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change. In this precise, short and yet epic cycle of novels, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language towards it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one's life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.

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    Under the Skin

    Sillonnant, au volant de sa Toyota rouge, les paysages magnifiquement désolés des Highlands d'Écosse, une jeune femme aux épaisses lunettes et à l'aguichante poitrine guette les auto-stoppeurs, jeunes, grands et musclés de préférence. La première énigme de cette fiction délirante, c'est le corps d'Isserley, dont les maux, les pulsions, les comportements laissent perplexe. Il y a dans le rituel de cette apparente obsédée sexuelle, quelque chose qui ne colle pas, quelque chose qui sans cesse déjoue la perspicacité de ses passagers de fortune - et du lecteur. Et, quand celui-ci finit par entrevoir qu'Isserley est au centre d'un univers plus terrifiant encore que ce qu'il avait pu supposer, le suspense se reconduit jusqu'aux dernières lignes. Michel Faber nous entraîne dans une narration d'une habileté machiavélique, doublée d'une fable cruelle sur le fonctionnement souterrain des hiérarchies de pouvoir dans les sociétés fondées sur la marchandise et le profit. Sous la peau est une oeuvre qui échappe à toute classification et qui ne manquera pas tour à tour de fasciner, troubler, voire de choquer le lecteur.

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    I Am Pilgrim

    Can you commit the perfect crime? Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

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    Flush

    'I lay in the garden and red the Browning love letters, and the figure of their dog made me laugh so I couldn't resist making him a Life.' Throughout her career, Woolf invokes the animal world both directly and metaphorically. She started to write a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's spaniel after finishing The Waves, tracing the life of the spaniel from his country origins, his puppyhood spent with the writer Mary Mitford, through his sheltered existence with Elizabeth Barrett in her sick room, and later travels in Florence. But Flush is much more than a playful writer's holiday. As well as offering an exploration of a life of the senses free from the tyranny of words, Flush can be read as an allegorical testimony to the inscrutable, discarded, unrepresentable lives of the Victorian women poets, who were barely discussed or read in the 1930s. From a quite literally low point of view, Woolf explores class and gender in Victorian London, with gently mocking humour. Charming yet also radical, Flush is a work of sensuous imagination, an apparently light text that opens up a range of questions concerning difference which are woven through the whole of Woolf's writing. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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    An Expat living in Thailand for years and years. Reading, long distance walking, and baking seems to take up most of my time these days.

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