Books: Last Stories shows William Trevor's command of language and storytelling
Last Stories by William Trevor is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99)
RELEASED to commemorate what would have been the 90th birthday of the multiple award-winning Irish writer, this collection of short stories shows Trevor's command of language and storytelling. The stories are at times beautiful and eerie, as in the mysterious piano-playing prodigy with a tendency to make things disappear, but also provide moving depictions of ordinary lives, such as the woman aching for romance with her former tutor, only to find it is not as she imagined. At times, Trevor leaves you aching for a resolution that will never be provided, both for reader and character, showcasing his ability to bring out the emotion and desolation in the ordinariness of life. This gorgeous collection shows a fine author with complete mastery of his craft.
The Outsider by Stephen King is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20 (ebook £9.99)
TERRY Maitland is a respected high-school English teacher and Little League coach – and he's been arrested in front of most of his small Oklahoma town's population, accused of committing the rape, mutilation and murder of a young boy. Multiple witnesses say they saw him abduct the boy in his car. Terry swears he was at a literary book festival an hour's drive away. And he too has multiple witnesses to back him up, and even video evidence of him at the Q&A session. Can a man really be in two places at once? And why is the town so quick to turn on Terry, who – up until now – was an incredibly popular, beloved local? King sets to explore the answers to both of these questions as the novel unravels and, of course, exposes some shocking dark secrets behind many of the community's central characters. Brutally descriptive, this is not one for the faint-hearted, but for King fan, The Outsider is a crime masterpiece.
The Insomnia Museum by Laurie Canciani is published in hardback by Head Of Zeus, priced £14.99 (ebook £5.03)
THIS is Welsh author Laurie Canciani's debut novel, but the ambition of her writing does not betray that. We first meet Anna and her father in their squalid flat as they collect and reconfigure odd items from outside. It becomes clear the father is deeply troubled, and Anna is trapped in his world – she is not allowed to leave the flat. She loses her father in heart-rending fashion and is rescued by charismatic stranger Lucky, clearly troubled himself. Anna moves into Lucky's flat, with his wife – who has confined herself to bed – and son Tick. Tick and Anna begin to build a new life despite the circumstances, but must confront a horror story from the past that ties them together in ways they couldn't have known. Canciani has a distictive style that draws you into Anna's view of the world. She describes small details in a very tellng fashion, with some beautiful similies. You will be gripped and deeply invested in Anna's fate.
Aristotle's Way by Edith Hall is published in hardback by Bodley Head, priced £20 (ebook £9.99)
PLATO was the blue-sky thinker, the poet of ideal forms and pure essences; his protege Aristotle was the empirical pragmatist; realistic, moderate and can-do. The idea of realising your potential; the pursuit of happiness as the supreme end goal of life; notions of catharsis and closure; the principles of making an informed decision; the value of leisure – all these ideas and many more come from Aristotle. Yet, if Aristotle is not as revered or widely quoted today as other canonical 'Great Minds', it is perhaps because his thinking is hard-wired into our way of looking at the world. This makes the project of this book – to shoehorn his teachings into a sort of self-help manual for the 21st century – problematic. It is a fascinating primer, especially if you like the idea of learning more about philosophy, but the author is at pains to yoke Aristotle's applicability to our world at every turn, which can feel unnecessary. More powerfully, she peppers her account with stories from her own life in a frank, discursive style.
The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan is published in hardback by Harvill Secker, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99)
Children are raised on stories, which shape their views and expectations of the world – but fairy tales, like life, like the sea, can be cruel. Mara, a young woman brought to live on a remote Scottish island as a child, learns this lesson on the day a tragedy strikes her family. As her parents and sister splinter, Mara struggles to cope until she meets mysterious Pearl, who could change Mara's own narrative. In her fourth book, Logan again draws on her native Scotland's folklore to craft an energetic tale of love and family ties, in which islanders turn to stone on a cliff top and selkies may not be as mythical as they seem. At times it feels like an extended short story, particularly in the pacing, which is at first inconsistent but ebbs like a tide to reveal the characters' secrets, rewarding readers with more depth than the genre usually allows.
CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK
White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock is published in paperback by Walker Books, priced £7.99 (ebook £5.46)
Tom Pollock, whose novel White Rabbit, Red Wolf represents a first foray into young adult fiction following his Skyscraper Throne trilogy, has a deep personal association with mental health issues and represents the support network TalkLife. In White Rabbit, his protagonists – twins Pete and Bel – are both afflicted with ailments that set them apart from other teenagers. When their mother is stabbed, it befalls maths prodigy Pete to discover who is responsible, while simultaneously searching for his missing sister. What begins as a familiar tale of juvenile angst develops into a spy thriller with well-imagined science fiction elements that force the reader to reevaluate the reality of the opening chapters. At times dark and illustrated with strong language, Pollock's paranoid world has real substance thanks to his skilful development of the characters. Fans of the Bourne series, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and all stories where everything is not as it seems will lap it up.