Interesting enough, but really there is nothing amazing about this book.
I'll sum it up in a few lines.
We make silly mistakes when not doing things weInteresting enough, but really there is nothing amazing about this book.
I'll sum it up in a few lines.
We make silly mistakes when not doing things we should really be doing. Checklists are a way of making sure we don't forget these things. They can contribute hugely in fields as disparate aviation, building and medicine. They demonstrably reduce errors.
And that's it.
Hard to disagree with, illustrated with interesting, well written anecdotes, but that is pretty much it....more
Very short (150 pages or so), brimming with cynicism, fatalism, nihilism and a general almost sociopathic contrariness that isWhat a marvellous book.
Very short (150 pages or so), brimming with cynicism, fatalism, nihilism and a general almost sociopathic contrariness that is impossible not to like, this is a very funny, moving book, and unlike anything I've read in a long time.
Christy Malry is a bored clerk who, inspired by the principles of double entry book keeping, decides to seek redress for what he sees as crimes committed against him by modern life, seeking an equal, balancing revenge against society to even things out. To be sure he 'balances the books', Christy keeps a ledger, a list of debits and credits in his life and seeks to make sure the two columns match up.
You'll appreciate the book more if you know a little about the author. B. S. Johnson committed suicide in 1973 at the age of 40, fuelled by anger that he'd never received the acknowledgement he felt he deserved for his work. Knowing this while reading this book just makes it more poignant, it helps spike the anti-establishment energy that runs through it, you feel that you really know what he is saying through Christie.
The obvious comparison is with John Kennedy Toole and Confederacy of Dunces. There are very similar, common themes and emotions in these books, but Christie's story has a particularly British feel to it. Knowing it is set in the 1970s, a grim time not just for Christie but for Britain, provides a brilliant framing for the book.
Johnson's output was experimentally post-modern, and Christie Malry is seen as his most 'accessible' work, but even so, his distinctive style pops up throughout the book, as he addresses you as the novelist, and introduces the work of the novelist into the story. Thus, we see this sort of thing:
"Headlam paused to provide a paragraph break for resting the reader's eye in what might otherwise have been a daunting mass of type"
"It does not seem to me possible to take this novel much further. I’m sorry."
.. throughout the book.
If you are worried that the experimentalism will start to distract or get in the way of the story with it's (undoubted) cleverness, don't be, it adds greatly to the book, and is genuinely funny rather than "clever" for the sake of being clever.
A truly enjoyable read, highly recommended....more
Started reading this book on the Saturday evening, finished it on Sunday night. In the time between, a decent chunk of the weekend passed by. I couldnStarted reading this book on the Saturday evening, finished it on Sunday night. In the time between, a decent chunk of the weekend passed by. I couldn't tell you much about it, though, as I was too engrossed in this book.
Joanthan Coe does marvellous social satire, and is probably best known for What a Carve Up! - his satire of Britain in the 1980s. Number 11 is apparently a follow up to WACU, although only in loose, general terms. I haven't read WACU (but will be doing so soon), so can't really comment on whether that is the case, but various members of the Winshaw family who were the focus of the earlier book also turn up in Number 11.
This is a hard book to describe. Two girls, Alison and Rachel, are at the centre of the book, which consists of several stories which unfold around them over the course of eleven or twelve years. In the course of these stories Coe takes aim at, amongst other things, the 'fuck-you, I'm alright' nature of Cameron's Britain, the colonisation of London by the super rich, the feeble-minded mass media, the right wing press, and austerity Britain.
The chapter in which a down-on-her-luck singer winds up on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, is particularly brilliant. Fantastically written yet truly hard to read as we see her stripped of her dignity - eating bugs not being enough, as she is also stitched up by selective use of footage - it not only takes aim at the feeble minded rubbish of mainstream television but also the nasty, dehumanising side of social media.
The number 11 features as a recurring theme in these stories. Any one from Birmingham - as Coe is - will tell you that the Number 11 is the outer circle bus which does a 20 mile loop of the city, lasting two or three hours.
As kids we'd ride on it for hours to pass the time. It was striking to see it feature in this book, where one of the characters does exactly the same - only not to waste time, but to keep warm, not being able to afford to heat her home.
The book is an obvious candidate for a television dramatisation. At a time where this country really needs all the satire it can get - if only we hadn't exported John Oliver - it is marvellous to have writers like Jonathan Coe on such brilliant form.
I really like Antony Beevor's books - to use a corny phrase, they bring history "to life" by telling you the stories of people who took part in it, anI really like Antony Beevor's books - to use a corny phrase, they bring history "to life" by telling you the stories of people who took part in it, and in this sense, this is no great departure. This book is, though, at times a flurry of names and places - probably unavoidable in a book about a relatively small amount of ground in a compact timeframe.
I made the school boy error of reading this on the Kindle (Paperwhite rather than tablet) which rendered the maps unreadable, which didn't help.
Negatives - the date / place overload being so intense at times.
Positives - sheds light on a lot of the leaders at the top of the decision chain, some of whom come out of it well, others not very well at all (Bradley)....more
I really like Jon Ronson's work - books, tv and radio - and this was a decent enough read, but it just felt so slight.
There was a long-ish article inI really like Jon Ronson's work - books, tv and radio - and this was a decent enough read, but it just felt so slight.
There was a long-ish article in the Observer recently, written (I think) by Jon Ronson himself in the run up to the release of the book, which featured a couple of the the case studies within, and I have to say, if you saw that article, you're not going to get much more out of the book....more