Reviews for books by Donna Tartt, Jonathan Franzen, Penelope Lively, Vicky Pryce, Dave Eggers and Graham Robb. Jeremy Paxman, Rosie Boycott and the Omnivore Pin-ups on the Literary Calendar. A pioneering Author Pitch. And heaven knows Morrissey's miserable now.
Win Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke
Film director, Muriel Box; architect, Alison Smithson; rally car driver and theatre director,  Sheila van Damm: the 1950s alpha women Rachel Cooke writes about in Her Brilliant Career are a world away from the stereotype of the desperate housewife. Claire Harman wrote in the Evening Standard, "It’s the nonconformist spirit of these women that Cooke is really celebrating and her anecdotes are great", while Daisy Goodwin in The Sunday Times said how refreshing it was "to read about women who achieve great things without spending a nanosecond worrying about whether they are spending enough quality time with their children, or whether they need Botox." Read all the reviews here.
We're giving away five copies, thanks to Virago. For your chance to win one, tell us: In the 1901 novel by Miles Franklin, My Brilliant Career, what does the heroine aspire to be?
Entries to by Friday 1 November.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
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"The Goldfinch is an enormous book, in every sense. It’s Dickens with guns, Dostoevsky with pills, Tolstoy with antiques" Alex O'Connell, The Times VS "it’s hard for an adult reader to be gripped by a tale with no real subtext and peopled entirely by Goodies and Baddies … But maybe none of this would matter much if the writing itself were sharp ... Unfortunately it’s leaden" Julie Myerson, The Observer
The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen
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"Tremendously readable and refreshingly sceptical of the cult of digital cool." Jason Cowley, Financial Times VS "...a self-indulgent farrago... This straining for relevance, this hijacking of a 1910 Austrian essay about a 19th century German poet, might be intended as a post-Barthesian experiment, a way of examining the issues of authorship, ideas, intent and form. My bet though: it’s just Franzen showing off." Roger Boyes, The Times


The decision to publish Morrissey's autobiography as a Penguin Classic has raised a few literary eyebrows. A publicity stunt? A harmless joke? Books editor of The Independent, Boyd Tonkin, didn't see the funny side:

"The droning narcissism of the later stages – enlivened by the occasional flick-knife twist of character sketch, or character assassination (watch out, Julie Burchill) – may harm his name a little. It ruins that of his publisher. For the stretches in which in his brooding, vulnerable, stricken voice uncoils, particularly across his Mancunian youth, Morrissey will survive his unearned elevation. I doubt that the reputation of Penguin Classics will."

Read all reviews for Autobiography by Morrissey


The Omnivore brings you Good Sex at the Pin-up Pageant at The Other Club this Tuesday. 
Find out more here.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
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"… A deft modern synthesis of Swiftian wit with Orwellian prognostication … The Circle is a work so germane to our times that it may well come to be considered as the most on-the-money satirical commentary on the early internet age." Edward Docx, The Guardian VS "It feels slapdash. There’s not a lot of terrible writing here; there just isn’t much good writing." Lionel Shriver, Financial Times
Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush
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“Rain and damp combine with the Rush-dried tone to create a swamp of sticky dark humor in which the reader is happy to be stranded. " Geoff Dyer, New York Times VS "Perhaps Mr. Rush means all this to read as black comedy, but it’s not remotely funny or compelling." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Goat Mountain by David Vann
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"As harrowing as anything he has written, as thrillingly desolate, in its way, as the traumatic hallucinations in Legend of a Suicide" Mark O'Connell, The Guardian VS " Despite these strenuous efforts to give its carnage archetypal significance, Goat Mountain mainly seems an outlandish instance of Vann’s continuing compulsion to immerse his imagination in a bloodbath." Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
Best of the rest
Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland, Prayer by Philip Kerr, Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos, The Love Object by Edna O’Brien, The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore, Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay

Pick of the paperbacks
A Man in Love: My Struggle: 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard, 7 Days by Deon Meyer
The Ancient Paths by Graham Robb
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"Glorious... Reading it is an electrifying and uncanny experience: there is something gloriously unmodern about seeing a whole new perspective on history so comprehensively birthed in a single book." Tim Martin, Telegraph VS "Graham Robb’s many admirers are in for a shock. Compared with his delightful rambles through history in The­ Discovery of France and Parisians, this new book is shrill, tendentious and ­forbiddingly technical" John Carey, Sunday Times
Ammonites and Leaping Fish by Penelope Lively
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"Penelope Lively’s fascinating, lucid study could scarcely be more timely… Lively observes that “One of the few advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority”. Authority, yes; and wit, thoughtfulness, a tender attention to the natural world, an incisive but deeply humane imagination: Ammonites and Leaping Fish is full of all these." Helen Dunmore, The Times
The Beatles — All These Years Tune In: Volume 1 by Mark Lewisohn
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"...the story is told so definitively that, after this, that really should be it ...  All that is lacking is substantial new testimony from the Beatles themselves, a point to which there are two responses: first, that the two most candid and iconoclastic Beatles have been dead for a number of years; and second, that the last people you should ask about the detailed history of the Beatles are the Beatles themselves." John Harris, The Guardian
Best of the rest
Prisonomics by Vicky Pryce, The Letters of Paul Cézanne by Alex Danchev, The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan

Pick of the paperbacks
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens, The Fishing Fleet by Anne de Courcy, Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

What are you reading at the moment?
Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia but because it’s an e-book I just can’t get along with it. There’s also too much detail about the various factions of the Republicans for the uninformed, even if Orwell does advise you to skip those parts. Still, because it’s Orwell I’ll endeavour to finish it.

What have you just finished reading?
Southeastern; metro 9 train times: 19 May to 7 December 2013. I’ve noticed some peculiar adjustments to the later shoulder of the morning weekday peaks between Dunton Green and Petts Wood and a cheeky bit of tinkering with the late Sunday evening services out of Charing Cross  - presumably for extra slack due to upcoming engineering works? And, as I often prefer to read plays as they’re punchier and wittier than novels, I reread one of my favourites: Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

John, 28, Bromley 

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The Indian Shirt Story by Heather Lockman

Where did you get the idea for your novel?
I once spent two years helping to launch a house museum in the town where I live — an Old West pioneer homestead from the days of the Oregon Trail. There was a certain family story attached to the site that was a particular problem for us because of its ghastly portrayal of American Indian people. But it was an important story to the older generation of the family and likely contained some small kernel of truth. All of that got me thinking: What really took place here back in the 1850s? And what might the Native version of that same story have been? 

If you had to sum up your book in a Hollywood pitch, how would you describe it?
In America, I’d say Barbara Kingsolver meets Sherman Alexie. In the UK it’s probably more like White Teeth meets Barbara Pym.

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