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Book reviews: A Summer of Drowning | The Filter Bubble | Nocturne

William Leith reviews the latest paperback offerings

A Summer of Drowning

by John Burnside

(Vintage, £7.99)

Rating: ****

John Burnside was shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year for this book, set on a tiny island off Norway in summer, and he has captured the strange atmosphere perfectly. Here, the light is different, and time seems to stand still. Liv, the narrator, tells us that people have been found dead in the strangely calm sea, and nobody knows why. This exerts a powerful pull, like a tide.

The Filter Bubble

by Eli Pariser

(Penguin, £9.99)

Rating: ***

Everybody uses Google. But, says Eli Pariser, it’s more scary than it seems. He starts off by explaining that when one person Googles something, the list of websites that appears is personal to them; if you did it on somebody else’s computer, a different list would appear. That’s because Google treats everybody as individuals — or rather, it knows where you’ve been, and tries to predict what you might want. This, he says, means the internet is not about sharing — it’s about being in your own little world.

Nocturne

by James Attlee

(Penguin, £9.99)

Rating: ****

James Attlee decided to write a book about moonlight, he tells us, for two reasons. The first was that, in the dentist’s chair, he looked up and saw a picture meant to calm him — a view of the world at night, with the developed world lit up. This, he saw, was why we don’t see much of the moon. The other reason was that, one evening, he saw “a monstrous, swollen apparition” — the harvest moon. So he sought out the moon, following it around; what we get is a lovely sense of something powerful and timeless — something which we have pretty much banished from our lives.

 

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