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For Alma, our stay became a great adventure called The Avoidance of Pork. Poor dear, from Day One, so many small defeats lay ahead of her. What did you miss the most from the U. Not so much for me, I was in heaven in Lisbon, ready to jump into every little cultural quirk, every lusophone nook and cranny. If anything, I found it hard to escape the American cultural influence in Portugal.

That was one wild night. What characteristics did you find the most pleasant in the Portuguese people? We three made a great number of dear friends that we still keep in touch with. What are the shortcomings or peculiarities of the people here that you would like to bury down deep in the Tagus River?

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But perhaps the acceleration pedal of their cars could do with a long, cold bath. They are of a country of great artistic accomplishments, with a remarkable history of discovery—they created the first globe-spanning empire, and their cultural influence is still felt in a large part of the southern hemisphere. We are a family accustomed to traveling, and sometimes settling in.

But living for a year with our daughter Hannah many years later, , was more of an extended experience. Plus, I became a great fan of soccer. Alma loved her new research among Cape Verdeans. Hannah was a sixth-grader in two Portuguese schools the first was an utter disaster , and she became fluent in the language. She now has a cosmopolitan sensibility that will serve her well in the future. But at the time, her isolation from home and her friends eventually took a great toll on her, which became one of the themes of my book.

What advice would you give to a friend who wanted to move to Portugal? First, you are in for a treat, Portugal is a beautiful country, and the Portuguese are friendly, welcoming people. The music, the food, and the general level of culture are all wonderful. But learning the language is a stretch. One more reason I am so proud of my daughter, her embracing the culture and language as perhaps only an eleven-year-old can.

A complete edition of John James Audubon's world famous The Birds of America, bound in linen and beautifully presented in a special slipcase. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Monday 17 December I am really looking forward to the next one, which is due out any day now. Apr 02, Snoakes rated it it was amazing Shelves: I really enjoyed this book.

It is populated by a cast of self-obsessed and narcissistic characters and none more so than Katherine, the novel's protagonist. She should be loathsome but she is so self-destructive, so unable to feel anything or even exist except in relation to others' reactions to her, usually while making then uncomfortable or unhappy, that I found her compelling. All that crap about forever.

The conversation about kids that never quite happens.

The Moon Come to Earth – In Love With Lisbon

And what a weight to be loved, too; to know that another person had invested their future happiness in your weak self. So perfectly hateful - I'd have loved to see a bit more of her in the novel. Sam Byers has completely nailed the dynamic of the bickering spiteful arguments couples inevitably have - so well that I fear he must have suffered at least one thoroughly appalling relationship in the past. I also loved the long rambling sentences following the characters' internal monologues as they struggle to understand and reinvent themselves.

I have read reviews that say that this is a novel for people who have given up on the human race - well it definitely appealed to the cynic in me and I sniggered out loud more than once. View all 4 comments. Jul 25, Anni rated it it was amazing. A terse yet poignant satire on self-absorbed thirty-somethings, eco-activists, misery memoirs and self-help gurus. Katherine is the cynical ex-girlfriend from hell and, like the devil, she gets all the best lines with her scathing put-downs and one-upmanship. You will want to read it twice to savour all the acerbic one-liners, reminiscent of the wise-cracking dialogue of old Hollywood movies.

Extract She went back to the charity shop where she'd donated Keith's vibrator. She told them she'd left s A terse yet poignant satire on self-absorbed thirty-somethings, eco-activists, misery memoirs and self-help gurus. She told them she'd left something in the bag by accident and wanted it back. The woman looked blank yet suspiciously relaxed. Aug 09, Antonomasia rated it really liked it Shelves: A book about, by and quite possibly for bitter, cynical, British white middle-class people in their mid thirties.

Critics like Idiopathy , it won the Costa First Novel award, I like it — but the general public don't seem to like it much: Or there were when I last looked in December — I'm keeping away from reader reviews as much as possible just now. I read the book in two chunks a couple of months apart, so my different impressio A book about, by and quite possibly for bitter, cynical, British white middle-class people in their mid thirties.

I read the book in two chunks a couple of months apart, so my different impressions of the beginning and the later book may be as much me as it. Yes, it's the product of a creative writing course, but one which would sneer at that very concept of itself as I'm doing there. More viciously, in fact. There's also something Continental about it: They are deliberately less glamorous than anyone from the Nouvelle Vague , and stuck in the provincial location of Norwich: It's one of those works which perhaps seems all the more observant the closer you've been to its milieu.

Whilst it only rarely makes named cultural allusions something which makes the characters' relationships and heads all the more effectively claustrophobic I felt as if the writer and characters had grown up watching, reading and listening to the same stuff as I had, and given age and assuming a high intake of national non-tabloid media, they probably did. Idiopathy works partly via a set of shared assumptions and tastes, which for me and probably a few people I know are spot on: Some would probably find it too cruel and specific; I remembered the time years ago when a close friend said a Half Man Half Biscuit song was a bit harsh I'd put the album on because I thought would amuse her as it did me.

A weird experience was to read the first one and be fairly sure that was the one I'd belong in if any: There are thoughts in the book, especially belonging to her, which I've often had but never seen written down anywhere before and unlike her, tried to argue against and not to say. Though it's never stated, I would guess that Katherine also read too many magazines when she was younger and is stuck with a head full of assumptions from them which she variously agrees with and is at war with, sometimes both at the same time, whilst she really wouldn't like people to know this, wanting to seem like someone who'd always been above all that rubbish.

If that sentence sounds suffocatingly self-involved, that's a good illustration of the tone of quite a bit of the book Even though I could see where the characters were coming from, or perhaps because of that, I found it a bit exhausting to read at times. There were arguments between Katherine and Daniel which I've basically had with myself in my own head possessing both their opposing temperaments to varying degrees — unfortunately I couldn't do Katherine's putdowns, though I used to know a woman who said similar things and was rather in awe of her.

The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon

Byers, to his credit, eschews long repetitive scenes connected with online social networks and other glaringly obvious ways of putting this sort of thing across, and lets characters skewer themselves via their conversation and thoughts about things which have existed far longer than Facebook. Idiopathy 's greatest weakness is perhaps the subplot about the ailing cattle, a sort of neo-BSE which is a heavy-handed metaphor for themes that get a defter touch elsewhere in the book. However, this is often used sardonically and it's a good idea to have a current-affairs distraction from the total self-involvement of the characters as they're painted.

As with most comic novels, this one walks a tightrope re. And I, for one, like the way it at times subverts the comic-novel trajectory for something less predictable in a minor key. Jul 19, Chris Young rated it really liked it. Chilling, bitter, black as pitch — three self-obsessed, depressed and wholly believable characters clash in Norwich, against the backdrop of a nationwide cattle epidemic. Laugh and despair for the world at the same time. There's nothing likeable here — but a lot to enjoy. Jan 12, Kate rated it it was ok. Katherine and Daniel were once a couple — their relationship fuelled by arguments — of the intellectual and just good-old-fashioned spiteful varieties.

Nathan hung out with Katherine and Daniel when they were a couple but suddenly dropped off the radar we quickly learn he was admitted into hospital for psychiatric treatment. Daniel has a job that makes him feel like a hypocrite. And did I mention that this is all played out on a stage that features a mysterious cattle disease as the backdrop?

Daniel was an insecure dill and Katherine was mean, with a penchant for one-upmanship - they probably made the perfect couple. Katherine would have said this was his true self.

Idiopathy by Sam Byers: review

As far as she was concerned, conviviality was always a lie. You could fake being nice, she would say, but being a cunt came from the heart. I received my copy of Idiopathy from the publisher, Fourth Estate, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This suited Katherine reasonably well. Sometimes she fucked men because she felt good about herself, and sometimes she fucked them because she hated herself.

At other times, she felt the whole dimming-the-lights-and-dousing-the-room-with-incense planning of the thing made it all rather moribund and predictable, at which point she just wanted to screw and be done with it. The difficulty was that Daniel never knew, so to speak, if he was coming or going" 49 "Katherine's occasional episodes of bad-faith niceness were always rather short-lived, and always left her, like her recent bumptious, bad-faith orgasms, feeling disappointed and faintly dirty after the event" "I know how it is.

Read e-book The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon

You're all Mr Superior. Looking out your window at us. Having a good old laugh. But now the boot's on the other foot. You look at me and you think, hold on, he's got a cow. Oct 30, Michelle rated it did not like it. I have nothing good to say about this book. I keep thinking the plot will hit me upside the head and I'll have an epiphany Once I start reading a book, I have an asinine rule about not finishing it but god help me I wished I could break that rule.

Honestly, I was browsing the shelves at the library and thought the cover looked interesting. I read the reviews on the back and was fully convinced when one of the reviewers said it was gut-busting funny. Let me be clear, there is I have nothing good to say about this book. Let me be clear, there is nothing remotely laughable about this book. The characters are surprisingly one dimensional even with all the excessive use of adjectives.