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Book Review

Speaking With The Angel by Nick Hornby - Book Review

Title
Author
Publisher

Speaking With The Angel
Nick Hornby
Penguin

Fiction-Net Rating 4 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Hear the Prime Minister explain to the House why he did a runner from Greenford Park service station and hitched a lift with a fifteen-year-old girl, as imagined by Robert Harris. Listen to someone who has a small hostile creature in his room, as told by Roddy Doyle.

Twelve voices, twelve completely new stories, narrated by twelve different characters and all written by twelve of the most exciting and popular writers around.

This sparkling collection has been put together by bestselling novelist Nick Hornby, who also contributes in an introduction about TreeHouse, an organisation that offers a unique and pioneering approach to the education of children with autism. A donation will be made to the TreeHouse with every copy sold of Speaking With The Angel.

We Say

The good thing about a collection like this is that it's a real mixed bag. The contributors are as follows: Robert Harris, Melissa Bank, Giles Smith, Patrick Marber, Colin Firth, Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers, Helen Fielding, Roddy Doyle, Irvine Welsh and John O' Farrell. You can see straight away that some of those names carry immediate expectations with them and others are more of an unknown quantity. It was enjoyable to work my way through and experience all of these different perspectives. Of course, some of the stories will communicate to you better than others and some you might not like at all but it's the process of discovering which ones that's the fun part.

For me, the most outstanding story was Roddy Doyle's. His contribution, called 'The Slave', has a very simple premise - a working class man comes downstairs one morning to find a dead rat on his kitchen floor. His response to the situation and the way in which it changes his routine and almost affects his sanity is totally convincing. As far as I'm concerned, this is a perfect short story - it has a strong central voice and a theme that is dealt with coherently but concisely.

Other high points include, 'Last Requests' by Giles Smith, a subtle but horrifying tale about a woman who cooks meals for death row prisoners, 'Luckybitch' by Helen Fielding, features a strong female character suffering an undignified lapse into old age and 'NippleJesus' by Nick Hornby, an exploration of one man's experience in the controversial world of modern art.

Be warned, the Irvine Welsh story, 'Catholic Guilt - You Know You Love It', is not for the faint-hearted. He is as provocative as ever.

Speaking with the Angel is worth a look, purely for the experience of reading so many different styles all in one handy package. The fact that proceeds from the sale of the book go to charity is a bonus but in truth, the stories would justify a purchase regardless of this.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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