Friday, 26 August 2011

Something for the weekend.....

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

This book is more likely to be something for several weekends as it comprises of 656 fantastically well written pages, deservedly winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001.

I had just finished reading Chabon’s ‘The Yiddish Policeman’s Union’ (anyone partial to a bit of ‘Noir’ should definitely give this a try) & was looking for something engrossing to read on holiday, so ‘Kavalier & Clay’ seemed to fit the bill nicely.

The story begins in 1939 & centres on two cousins, Sam Clay & Josef Kavalier. Josef, amateur magician & gifted draughtsman, has escaped to New York from his native Prague to live with Sam just as the Nazis are tightening their grip on Europe. His main concern is to earn enough money to bring the rest of his family to America. Together Sam & Joe create a comic strip featuring ‘The Escapist’, a Houdini inspired, Nazi-busting superhero, who aims to liberate the oppressed of the world.

What follows is a brilliantly realised portrayal of the Golden Age of the comic book in America, which serves as a background to the very human drama unfolding in the lives of the main characters. Chabon is able to combine humour with moments of real poignancy while maintaining a narrative which will keep you turning those pages.

This is an adventure story, a love story, a story about real heroes as well as the caped variety. Read it & weep.

Steve Orchard

Friday, 19 August 2011

Something for the weekend...

In the first of our books recommended for a weekend read...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Stockett’s novel about the lives of African-American maids and their white employers is one of the best books I’ve ever read and one I will pick up many times in the future. The subject of affection between white and black people in times of segregation, is rarely handled with such skill and elegance.
The characters are all so well written, from the maids and white employers to their children and husbands that each one becomes deeply ingrained in the readers imagination. Before long, one feels as though they know each individual intimately. Their struggles and fears, hopes and dreams become those of the reader and subsequently readers can only be better for knowing these characters in all their idiosyncrasies and habits.
Whether or not Stockett can surpass The Help remains to be seen particularly with the lawsuit she is facing over her debut novel from her brother’s maid as of February 2011.

The subjects covered in The Help are indeed risky topics for a white author, even with Stockett’s experience of being raised by a black maid herself, but a good novel is a good novel in my opinion and Stockett has accomplished a fine piece of writing if nothing else from this. A wonderful account of the struggle against the KKK and white supremacy in 1960′s segregated America, The Help is a classic of its time. Stockett has achieved something truly moving and important with this book and will hopefully go on to further her talent.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The first post.

Hello! and welcome to the new blog for Blackwell's Charing Cross Road, London.

Why do you need a blog for Blackwell's Charing Cross Road? Good question. Here are two excellent reasons: we love books & we want to tell you why we love & why you should love the books that we love, and we have loads of great events where the people who write the books we love turn up & sign them & we want you to know when & where these signings are happening.

Otherwise we will be waffling & quizzing & showing you pretty pictures & ugly pictures &.. well we don't know what else yet as this all very new & exciting!

So thanks for reading & we hope you enjoy.