Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Links for the next meeting - One Day by David Nicholls

(Including Emma's mix tape for Dexter, for anyone who has Spotify)

A reader's guide from the American website
"3. In his unsent letter Dexter writes, “I think you’re scared of being happy. . . . that you actually get a kick out of being disappointed and under-achieving, because it’s easier. . . .”[p. 42]. How do Dexter’s insights into Emma compare to her own? Is he more perceptive about her than he is about himself? Does Emma underestimate her talents and potential? Despite its carefree tone, does Dexter’s letter betray certain doubts or misgivings about himself?"

A review from The Guardian, at the time of publication:
"But the most noticeable feature of these protagonists and their friendship is their extraordinarily high laughs-per-page ratio. Nicholls's first novel, Starter for Ten, was gagtastic and, in a couple of its setpieces, successfully invited comparison with Lucky Jim. His second, The Understudy, was very, very funny. But One Day is funnier still: the headmaster's beard that becomes a balaclava, Dexter's bubbly co-presenter who talks in capitals and who "would start a letter of condolence with the word 'Wahey!'", Ian's "tracky botts", Ian's ring-in-the-calamari proposal, Ian's relentless patter - indeed, just about every sentence involving Ian."

A 5 Star review on Amazon:
"One of the best novels I`ve ever read. The characters are likeable and you can`t help yourself willing them to get together. The concept is fantastic; You never really know what happens immediately after the end of each chapter, as the next one takes place exactly one year later. I`m not entirely sure whether this should be classed as a romantic comedy; It`s a novel about relationships that should appeal to both men and women. Sure, Emma Mayhew comes out with a lot of amusing one-liners, but that`s not really what One Day is about. There`s no sloppy romanticism here either, no sex scenes described in elaborate euphemisms. This book is about realistic characters feeling the sort of emotions we have all felt. All human life is here in this novel and it`s utterly compelling.
I`m not usually one to get emotional over books and films, but I found myself close to tears at some points in One Day. One page in particular, I had to go back and re-read several times, it affected me so much."

A 1 Star review on Amazon
"I'm flabbergasted by the glowing reviews - the book is not that good. The main strength of the book is its stucture - truly innovative whereby the characters are revisited on the same date every year. However, that's the most interesting/exciting thing about the book. The characters themselves are two-dimensional bores. Emma is snippy and wet, while Dexter is a caricature of arrogance and privilege. And they don't even have very exciting lives to sustain any reader interest. My main objection to the book is the idleness of the writer. Once he had the structure in place, he appeared to just spew out lazy scenes and put very little effort into developing tension or character. At times, the writing was very sloppy and I nearly threw the book across the room at several things that a good editor should have spotted: eg, who wears a moleskin suit in July? Why on July 15 would Dexter be catching up on the latest news from Wimbledon, when the tournament usually ends at least a week earlier? And why the constant references to Mayhem plc - if the company had been a plc (ie a listed company), then Dexter would have been considerably richer and certainly wouldn't have been able to just wind up the company on a whim without a nasty backlash from shareholders (which is what a plc has). No doubt the author is a fine scriptwriter, but the limits of his craft show time and again on the printed page. I'm sure the story will make an amusing mini-series/film, but I suspect the main enjoyment will be derived from the visuals of the transformation from late 80s to present day rather than any engagement in the story."

& finally - the cast for the film, coming out later this year.
Anne Hathaway as Emma? Jim Sturgess as Dexter? Rafe Spall as Ian?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Copycat Covers

The covers of books say so much (for example the 'Dragon Tattoo' books, or 'One Day', which we're reading this month, but more and more books seem to be using similar pictures and themes on the covers - for example these two, which use the same stock photo, but cropped and coloured differently:

You can see a bigger collection of similar examples here, and here is link to other examples where the picture is different, but the theme is very similar (a spade in the ground, a chair in an empty room). Just how little time to publishers take over the cover design,,?