Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hooked Bookworm has moved!!!

For those of you who haven't seen the news yet, we have moved over to Typographical Era, where we are collaborating with a friend to bring you a new and improved resource for literary news, reviews, author interviews, and much more!

The content from Hooked Bookworm has been transferred over to our new site, but we will not be deleting anything from this location. You can also follow Typographical Era on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Thanks for all your support over the last year and a half. We hope to see you all at the new site!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hooked Bookworm is moving!

We are thrilled to announce that Hooked Bookworm and Opinionless have joined forces!!  Our new site, Typographical Era, will officially launch on January 1, 2013, but in the meantime, we’ll be entertaining you with a countdown of our favorite books that we read in 2012. We'll be revealing one a day so stay tuned!

And don’t forget to like our new page and follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  The wait is over...welcome to the Typographical Era!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pure by Andrew Miller

     It's 1785 and John-Baptiste Baratte, a French engineer, has just arrived in Paris to begin a new job.  He has been hired by the Minister to the King to clean up Les Innocents, an old, crumbling cemetery that is literally overflowing with bodies.  In fact, the cemetery is so overcrowded that the graveyard walls have disintegrated and corpses are spilling into people's back yards.  The entire city smells like decay, and some people have even fallen ill due to the toxic air.  John-Baptiste arrives on the scene and is shocked by the state of the cemetery, but optimistic about his ability to improve Paris.

     Pretty soon, however, Monsieur Baratte finds that the task is much more challenging than he first expected.  He thought his presence as the city's purifier would be a breath of fresh air to the Parisians, but they are strangely suspicious of Baratte's intentions.  Les Innocents is rotting the city from the inside out, but the townspeople are curiously attached to it and hesitant to interrupt the eternal slumber of the dead.  As the project progresses, Baratte finds himself increasingly paranoid and alone, despite his efforts to purge the city of its unsavory past.  Baratte finds some solace in the friendship of Armand, a church organist, and Heloise, a Parisian prostitute, but it's not enough to make him forget that most of the city, including his workers, despise him.

     They say that Rome wasn't built in a day and Andrew Miller's novel reminds us that neither was Paris.  The city of romance, the city of lights was, in Baratte's day, a city of filth and poverty, and even though his presence means progress for the city, Baratte finds that traditions are even harder overcome than stacks of bodies.

     Pure is a very fascinating piece of historical fiction.  While John-Baptiste Baratte is a fictional character, the story of Les Innocents is solidly grounded in Paris history, and Miller's re-imagining of this volatile social and economic time is beautifully rendered, despite the unsavory subject matter.  But even so, the book sometimes felt lethargic and detached, and Baratte's personal story felt somewhat withdrawn from the novel's themes.  Perhaps this is due to his own misgivings about the task and his insecurity as a force of change and momentum.  Despite this, Pure offers a bittersweet journey to 18th century Paris, and the subject matter, while grim and sinister, couldn't be more perfect for this time of year.

Overall Rating:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Favorite Fiction: Classics for Fall Reading

I don't know about you, but something about cool, overcast fall days makes me want to snuggle into a giant chair with a mug of hot chocolate and a nice piece of classic literature.  Maybe it's the introspective nature of the season, or the longer nights, but for me, autumn is a time for classic reading.  Here are a few of my favorite works of classic literature that are just perfect for this time of year:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Swimming Home podcast

The Man Booker Prize hype is over and Hilary Mantel has taken home her trophy, but for those of you who are interested, here is the final podcast in our BookerMarks podcast series, where my fellow collaborators analyze and discuss Deborah Levy's shortlisted novel, Swimming Home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Man Booker Prize Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Hilary Mantel, the recipient of this year's Man Booker Prize.  Mantel is the first British woman to win the prize twice...the only other authors who have won twice are Peter Carey and J.M. Coetzee.

If you've been following me and my collaborative bloggers on BookerMarks, then you also know that we successfully predicted Mantel as this year's winner.  Yaaay!

To read more about the big announcement, head on over to the Man Booker Prize's website!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Favorite Fiction: 2012 Man Booker Prize Contenders

Those of you who have been keeping up with me on BookerMarks already know that 6 other bloggers and I have been closely following the Man Booker Prize nominees since the longlist was announced in July.  The original longlist of 12 titles was eventually whittled down to 6 finalists, and the winner will be announced tomorrow evening.  Of the 12 longlisted titles, I was able to read and review 10, but based on my reviews and ratings, here are Hooked Bookworm's top 5 Man Booker Prize-nominated titles:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

     We all know that there is a deep connection between memory and the senses.  Sights, scents, and sounds can trigger all sorts of complicated emotional responses, but for the main character in Alison Moore's Man Booker shortlisted novel, memory is hypersensitive, puzzling, and often devastating.  Futh is a quiet, middle-aged man on Holiday in Germany after a recent separation from his wife, Angela.  Their marriage has ended before Futh can accurately process exactly why, so he takes a short "vacation" to clear his head and try to figure out where things went wrong.  Along the way, he stays in a small, locally-operated hotel referred to as Hellhaus.  At the hotel, Futh finds the staff to be quite peculiar, especially Ester, who operates the hotel with her husband, Bernard.  As Futh embarks upon his painful and tedious journey of memory and self-exploration, we are alternately transported back to Hellhaus, where Futh's presence has triggered a completely separate, but somehow connected resurgence of memories and abandoned thoughts.

     As Futh scratches the surface of why his relationship with Angela failed, he is unpleasantly reminded of the other various failed relationships throughout his life, including that of his father, various neighbors, friends, relatives, and of course, his wife.  But while Futh is picking at old wounds, he is continually reminded of the deepest and most painful memory - Futh's mother abandoned him and his father during Futh's childhood, and he has never fully recovered from the tragic abandonment, probably because he never understood why his mother left in the first place.  Futh is left with certain scents and images to remind him of his long-gone mother, but most of all, he is entranced by a silver lighthouse that once contained a vial of his mother's perfume.

     While Futh originally set out on a journey to achieve peace, quiet, and possibly clarity, he finds himself increasingly and mysteriously overwhelmed by the scent of oranges, cigarette smoke, violets, and camphor.  All of these scents trigger various memories for both Futh and Ester, but neither are aware of how they intersect and why the emotional association is so strong.  Alison Moore's novel is a melancholy portrayal of loneliness, abandonment, restlessness, and regret, but Futh and Ester's stories are quietly powerful, and their memories serve as reminders of the events in our past from which our senses will never let us escape.

This review was simultaneously published on BookerMarks on 10/14/12

Overall Rating: