Ron

Blackwood by Michael Farris Smith

Literary fiction about a small town artist whose life has been shaped by tragedy, this short tale morphs into a sort of timeless gothic horror tale. Just that vague sentence already seems like too much of a spoiler: this is a book best gone into blindly, so that its many twists and turns can wash over you with shock and incomprehension. Oxford, Mississippi based author Michael Farris Smith, over the course of five books, is proving himself to be a modern day Faulkner, with this meditation on evil and the darkness of the human heart.

Adult Fiction Hardcover pr5287627

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

A short, brutal look at everyday misogyny in South Korea. I'd like to think "it's not like that here"  but fear my gender might have rendered me every bit as oblivious as the men portrayed in this incendiary novel. But there’s no excuse for women to be treated this way, anywhere.

Adult Non-Fiction Paperback pr5365298

That Left Turn at Albuquerque by Scott Phillips

Bad or at least morally dubious people misbehave in a modern noir set in Ventura, CA.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover pr5201730

Me by Elton John (audiobook edition)
While I confess to having owned Elton John’s first Greatest Hits compilation on 8-Track Tape in my youth, once I hit puberty, my musical tastes shifted and he’s been in my rear view mirror ever since. Although, given his sheer volume of hits on classic rocks stations, and work for movies like The Lion King, he’s remained something of a constant aural presence. News of his first, and only, official autobiography, written with music critic Alexis Petridis, struck me as just another rock-dinosaur cashing in with a boilerplate memoir in the twilight of their career, ego stroked by a publisher holding big bags of cash. Something for the fans. Ho hum.

Thankfully, I happened to read a review in The Guardian that described it as “a landmark in the memoir genre, “eye-popping” and filled with radical candor and acerbic wit, and on my next trip to the library I found “Me” in their new audiobook display. While the author reads the introductory and closing chapters, the bulk of the book is read by actor Taron Egerton, who played the lead in the recent biopic Rocketman, and now seems to sound more like Elton John than John himself.

What makes this an extraordinary listening experience, besides the aforementioned candor and wit, is quite simply great storytelling. Whether he’s talking about growing up as a shy lad in the suburbs, the British blues rock scene of the early 60s, his life once he became the bestselling performer in the world, his temper and struggles with multiple addictions, owning a football club or his charity work, it all sounds like a brilliant conversation you’re having at the pub you’d like to never end. John has always liked gossip and surrounding himself with people and making introductions and the cast of characters here is endless. Taron Egerton’s narration is key: you can hear the eye rolling, self-deprecation, contrition, enthusiasm, snark, bitchiness and joy throughout. Highly recommended for anyone that enjoys great storytelling, regardless of their musical tastes or sexual orientation. See the Guardian review here

Adult Non-Fiction Audio CD pr4671566

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