May We Be Forgiven — A. M. Homes
I can’t even remember how I came across this but I was so utterly absorbed from the second page that I cancelled my plans. A. M. Homes seems to write stories without stopping for breath. There’s more goings on in the first chapter of this novel than there are in the entirety of others.
May We Be Forgiven is a relentlessly genius black comedy. It starts as it means to go on, full-on intense. It follows the story of a suburban family at Thanksgiving who spiral out of control in an unstoppable, insane fashion.
It’s probably the least predictable book I’ve ever read and it’ll pick you up and dump you down, hours later, with no idea what just hit you.
Hope; a Tragedy — Shalom Auslander
When the proof of this book first found its way into the staff room of the bookshop I worked at, I’m not even sure I knew that such writing was possible. Now I know better.
Auslander’s absurd and fantastic Hope; a Tragedy is so incredible that I actually chased a girl out of the shop wielding it and assuring her it would be the best thing she ever bought.
The story follows a Jewish man who discovers the most astounding thing in his attic. It wouldn’t take you very much Googling to find out what it is, but I don’t want to spoil it myself because when I turned the page to find out, I laughed so hard that people on the train platform stared at me. And I want that for you.
Black humour, cultural exploration and a desperate unravelling of the human condition — Hope; a Tragedy is a book that’ll keep you turning pages long after the lights should’ve gone out.
PopCo — Scarlett Thomas
I’ve been a diehard Scarlett Thomas fan since I came across The End of Mr Y but it’s PopCo that has always been my favourite.
Thomas’ novels almost look like they should be easy-reading mass market fiction and they are marketed along those lines. But they contain, like both the books above, more depth than the majority of mass market offerings.
PopCo is told from the POV of Alice Butler, a game designer at a toy company. Through her we see the manipulations of marketing to children and start feeling the discomfort of it along with her. But when she’s invited into a subversive group of colleagues, it all begins to change.
PopCo is addictive because again, it’s just not predictable. It’s a fabric woven with Thomas’ endless interests from cryptography and homeopathy to psychology and capitalism. There’s a brilliant plot, but the story exists on so many levels.
The lightbulb in my room blew while I read this and so I had to sit out on the landing until 2am because I could not put it down.
I love nothing more than to find a novel that steals my concentration and keeps me up long past my bedtime. If you have any recommendations, put them in the comments!
Kitiara Pascoe is a ghostwriter and author. After three years of sailing around the Atlantic and Caribbean, she washed up in Devon in the UK. You can find her on Twitter @KitiaraP and @TheLitLifeboat. She’s the author of In Bed with the Atlantic and The Working Writer and you can find her journalism and blog at KitiaraPascoe.com or her ghostwriting at TheLiteraryLifeboat.co.uk