July 17, 2022 · 4:05 p.m
June was fiction month, which began with A Waiter in Paris: Edward Chisholm: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City which is an account of the author’s time working as a runner and waiter in a Parisian restaurant. Chisholm moved to Paris in 2012 at the age of 24 to live with his then-girlfriend. After she broke up with him, he decided to stay and look for work in the city, despite speaking very little French at the time. Hierarchy means everything among restaurant workers, and Chisholm paints vivid portraits of his colleagues, all of whom are heavily dependent on tips to make ends meet. Chisholm leaves _____ gaps in the dialogue he doesn’t understand, which gradually disappear because of his fluency in French. As a contemporary of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, A Waiter in Paris reveals the intensity of the long hours behind the scenes of a service industry that seems decades away since Orwell worked in the city as a plongeur.
Patrick Raden Keefe, don’t say anything is a gripping story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, centered on the 1972 kidnapping and murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10. First published in 2018, it examines the experiences of IRA fighters involved in the case, with a particular focus on Dolors Price and Brendan Hughes, and the importance of their tapes, held in the Boston College Belfast Project archive. Although I knew many of the main characters and events surrounding the Troubles, Say Nothing brings everything together in a spectacular panoramic narrative. It doesn’t matter if you have a great deal of background knowledge or none at all of the events described here to appreciate this brilliantly immersive and sensitive work. I enjoyed reading Raden Keefe’s account of the Sackler family’s empire of pain earlier this year, and I’ll also be digging into his new book, Rogues, a collection of his New York Times articles.
Sam Knight’s Office of Foreboding tells the strange true story of Shropshire-based psychiatrist Dr. John Barker and his work on precognition in the mid-20th century. After meeting several people who claimed to have predicted the Aberfan disaster in 1966, Barker, along with Evening Standard science writer Peter Fairlie, set up the Premonitions Bureau to collect predictions and see if anyone could accurately predict events and disasters. . I wasn’t surprised to learn that ‘The Premonitions Bureau’ is an extension of Knight’s 2019 New York Times article on the same subject, as the narrative feels rather padded in places even for a relatively short book, but it’s a fun and unique take on a distinctly strange tale of which I had never heard before. Many thanks to Faber and Faber for sending me a review copy via NetGalley.
Both Morgans are not sorry for this memoir details what happened when her longtime partner Jacob collapsed in the summer of 2018 and spent seven months in an induced coma and 443 days in the hospital, where he was finally diagnosed with a rare form of encephalitis caused by injections he had received for several treatments. sclerosis. When he woke up, he no longer recognized Morgan and treated her like a fraud. Morgan is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter of several films and TV series, including The Divide and The Hour. She writes carefully to avoid clichés, slyly noting that, had this been a fictional plot, her subsequent breast cancer diagnosis in late 2019 would have been criticized for coming too soon after Jacob’s health problems. Instead, while the events in Morgan’s life haven’t always provided optimal narrative convenience, her story is often darkly funny and shows genuine resilience. Many thanks to John Murray Press for sending me a review copy via NetGalley.