Posts Tagged ‘Little Hands Clapping’



This post was originally going to be a “top 5 books” I had the most fun reading this year. Clearly, I too much of a good time, because there were so many fun books I was loathe to exclude that the post is now a top 10 in two parts. If I was still working at the bookshop, these are the titles I would handsell dozens of. Like a boss.

Nick Harkaway – Angelmaker (Alfred A. Knopf): This book was an absolute blast! It is raucous and original. Mild-mannered clockworker with gangster heritage, octogenarian former super-spy with ugly pug sidekick, super-villain with creepy minions, elegant doomsday machine with… bees. What more could you ask for? The writing is snappy and funny, and the book is chock-a-block with great characters. If you’re looking for a bit of clever fun, look no further. The book is so good that months later, I am still thinking about it and chuckling about some of the best bits. Seriously. Just buy it. It’s fantastic.

Dan Rhodes – Little Hands Clapping  (Canongate): By turns macabre, hilarious, moving, and disturbing, this is the perfect novel for those people on your shopping list who are a bit dark and twisted. Set primarily in a German suicide museum, the story weaves together the tales of the museum’s caretaker, its patrons, its visitors/victims, and a local doctor. Two of the main characters are rather sinister and conspire in disturbing ways, breaking taboos that some readers might have a tough time stomaching. But, there is also a very charming love story and several fascinating characters. The story can be gruesome, but it is also enchanting and funny. It is a rather macabre fairy tale and a refreshingly original read.

Missy Marston – The Love Monster (Vehicule Press): This darkly hilarious tale of Margaret H. Atwood (not to be confused with the writer) is wonderfully lively and honest about the miseries of our quotidian existence. It is an excellent character study of Margaret (separated, psoriasis-riddled, bad job, bad attitude, and observed by aliens) and the people in her orbit, as well as an astute catalogue of many types of love (good and bad, romantic, platonic, familial, etc.). The conclusion was a bit “Hollywood happy-ending”, brought about by a deus ex machina (or more properly, an alien ex ufo), but it works because the bulk of the story isn’t sickly sweet. By the end, the reader is really rooting for Margaret, foibles and all. The story is incredibly well written – snappy and funny and poignant – and is a pleasant change from usually dour Canadian fiction. One of my favourite CanLit reads of the year.

Susan Hill – The Small Hand (Profile Books): Okay, this is “fun” in the way that having the bejesus scared out of you can be fun. Hill is a master of the ghost story novella, as evinced by The Woman in Black. However, the story here is more masterful than the Gothic exercise that her first ghost story was. Still here though, are the tropes of the isolated, dilapidated house, the tragic death of a child, and the questionable psychological state of the protagonist. Woven into this conventional tapestry are threads of memory, guilt, and dread. This is a first rate ghost story, tense and well-wrought, and suitable for gobbling up in a single sitting on a cold, dark, winter’s night.

Jasper Fforde – The Eyre Affair (Penguin): Again (as with The Book Thief in the previous post), I’m way behind on this one. I’ve had it on my shelf for years, and just never got around to it, as is often the case with books I’m quite certain I will enjoy. I’m sure there’s a word for that particular syndrome, and if there isn’t, there should be. In any case, this was great fun to read. It’s the action-packed story of Thursday Next, a Special Operative in literary detection, who gets caught up trying to solve case involving the kidnappings of literary characters from the pages of their books, particularly one Jane Eyre. It’s funny, surreal, and full of literary jokes. What’s not to like? If you are already on the Jasper Fforde bandwagon, the seventh book in the Thursday Next series, The Woman Who Died A Lot, is available now.




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