Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Other Hand - Chris Cleave

I’m banned from bookshops you know. I have a bookcase in our bedroom and it has, about 50-odd books on there which are all waiting to be read. So I’m not allowed to go and buy new books.


There’s a special occasion. Like going to Manchester for a trip. Or The Times Book of the Week where you can get a book for £2.99 with a copy of the paper. Or when you are buying books for other people and they just happen to be on the Waterstones 3 for 2 offer and you pick a book for yourself. Those situations don’t really count.

I’m not really one for re-reading books you see. There are so many out there and I can hear them calling to me and I don’t want to neglect them.

This means that sometimes I can rush through books like nobody’s business and so often I’ll go “Oh yes. I’ve read that....what happens in it again?” Sometimes the stories, although engaging at the time, don’t stay with me for long afterwards.

I have a friend who has an insane number of books lining her tiny one roomed flat in Manchester. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave and I can spend a whole afternoon browsing and picking things off the shelf and asking “Is this any good?” She can’t bear to send any books on their way to a better life. I’ve had to make her do it once when she finally ran out of room. It was traumatic for both of us, it was like I was wrenching her babies away from her and sending them to Oxfam.

I however am pretty brutal. I’ll read a book and I might have liked it but you know when you just know that that is as far as your journey goes together? You know that you’re never really going to read it again and it didn’t really set your world on fire to begin with. It’s time to let it go.

And let it go I do – be off with you to the charity shop little book, someone-else might love you enough to keep you forever and ever. And ever.

There are very few books that I have deemed worthy of keeping. Some I keep because they were just great stories. Some I keep because I would like to lend them to friends. Some I keep because I would like my children to read them. And some just struck a chord within me that I know I can’t ignore. Those books go on the special bookcase.

The Other Hand is going to join them on there.

Bet you wondered when I was going to get around to talking about it didn’t you?

But you see I can’t really give you a review as such because I’ve made a promise. I can’t tell you what happens. It says so on the back of the book and I agree with that decision – if you knew what was going to happen it would be ruined.

I can say that it’s a very clever book. There’s no floweriness to it. No massively long prose littered with words you don’t understand. It’s just a story, told by 2 women.

And it’s beauty lies in its simplicity and I recommend it to you all.

So well done Chris Cleave. You made it on to the shelf.

And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I might pick you up one day and read you again.


The Curious Cat said...

I have a rule now that if I didn't feel significantly moved by the book - it moves on to someone else or a charity shop or car boot. Having worked in the publishing industry I have a whole hord of free books and if I ever want MORE free books I only have to ask... this is a dangerous thing...a very dangerous thing... xxx

Flitterbee said...

It's good.

I bought it yesterday (£1.50, bargin!) I'm three quarters of the way through.