It seems like the series is getting something of its plot back, but as always rather losing track of its characters. I swear everyone but Peter is becIt seems like the series is getting something of its plot back, but as always rather losing track of its characters. I swear everyone but Peter is becoming less fleshed out, from the regular supporting cast, to the villains, to the personalities of the various suspects and victims of the specific case. Still a fairly fun read, but the series seems to be fast losing whatever substance it had and sliding into a certain nonsensicality of lamesish one liners ("I was going to say something witty only I was cut off," is used, and you can't twice in one book) and messy action scenes without much connectivity. ...more
I wasn't crazy about the dip into romance and the trick with the structure of the mystery felt a little cheap. The secondary villains, witnesses and fI wasn't crazy about the dip into romance and the trick with the structure of the mystery felt a little cheap. The secondary villains, witnesses and friends and family also felt a little less developed and sharply drawn then I'm used to - and always enjoy - in Rowling's book, and the parade of horrific men and battered women grew a bit nauseating and indistinguishable by the end. All that said, still thoroughly enjoyable. When's the next one? ...more
The problem is, I'm just not a Beatles fan. I like the songs, they've been playing along in the background all of my life. I find the history interestThe problem is, I'm just not a Beatles fan. I like the songs, they've been playing along in the background all of my life. I find the history interesting, as a phenomenon...but i'm not a fan. I don't care about the provenance of each song or the controversial historiography of minor events. Now, as history, this is enjoyable. A nice view into a time, place and industry, particularly the Liverpool of the 40s and 50s and Hamburg of the early 60s. But Lewisohn is a fan, a fanatic, an admirer. He cares about their minutiae, their personalities, their narrative. He's impressed by the Beatles, forgiving, fond. There's just something too incongruous for me when Lewisohns fairly dry, meticulous, adult view slides into unflinching admiration for these rowdy teenagers, almost unsettling. One doesn't know whether to question his judgement or just join in. After all, they're the Beatles, right?...more
Very weak. I picked this up because I really enjoy Melvin Bragg's radio show "In Our Time," because he seems to have a knack for asking the interestinVery weak. I picked this up because I really enjoy Melvin Bragg's radio show "In Our Time," because he seems to have a knack for asking the interesting, but still rigorous, questions. This is just plodding and cutesy though. Not any particularly interesting angles on the language or on linguistics in general - yes, English has a lot of loan words - and not very compelling as history. It did make me want to find out more about the Reformation though. I guess that's something. ...more
"In the Indian shops you can buy a narrow selection of curtain materials and chair covers which startle and amaze, but few which uplift the soul."
This"In the Indian shops you can buy a narrow selection of curtain materials and chair covers which startle and amaze, but few which uplift the soul."
This is basically a blog from 1952. Ommanney was stationed in Zanzibar in the early 50's, doing something about improving fishing. The one chapter he dedicates to this gives a very strong impression that no one involved had the faintest idea what they were doing. It involves statements like "but the French had made it seem very easy." There's some history, but someone rather emphatically wrote "this is untrue" in the margin of my copy on page 20, so so much for that. The rest is pretty much notes from the life of an expat in Zanzibar.
It's casually racist and kind of smug in general, and nothing ever happens, but still not a terribly unpleasant read. Ommanney is occassionaly kind of funny, though i'm still not sure if it's always on purpose. He often seems to be going for a kind of plummy, unflappable, stiff-upper-lip Brit-abroad mild eccentric etc. Very Victorian, tolerantly gazing over the odd habits of the natives and all that. Alas he seems a couple of generations late and maybe a personality shy.
There's often a rather fussy, almost hysterical undercurrent to it all, even if his main subject matter, by simple volume, wasn't the inadequacies of his interior decor and the habits of his servants. It's too hot and cars go too fast and the kids these days with their cinemas and parted hair. The dancing is too inscrutable, the music is too loud - everything from American showtunes to Arab wailing to endless African drums that are always beating through the night, somewhere, is groused about in one hilarious passage. (A while later - complaints about the eeriness of the primordial African silence.)
Mostly, he comes across as a somewhat duffy, largely affable and possibly rather lonely guy, very much of his time. There's a lengthy sort of sub-Bill-Brysonesque imagined-conversation comic passage of the horrors of taking one's wife and kids on holiday, which begins to be a bit weird and sad the longer it goes on, coming from someone living alone with a cat in a nine-room house.
I'm not sure why I started this and i'm not entirely sure why I finished. Recommended for no one at all, unless you have a burning need to know about the mental states and material conditions of British colonial personnel in Zanzibar in the early 50's.
Meatier than the first one, and a little nastier. Enjoyed thoroughly.
So far it seems to me like the two Cormoran Strike books are intensely concernedMeatier than the first one, and a little nastier. Enjoyed thoroughly.
So far it seems to me like the two Cormoran Strike books are intensely concerned with appearances. Vanity, perception and presentation of self. Celebrity and reputation in the main mystery plot, yes, but also in more insidious, more prosaic ways in the background subplots that I actually found myself enjoying more by the end. Strike is terribly perceptive about people, about the way they like to show themselves, but he seems almost an unreliable narrator when it comes to himself.
He stands out, effortlessly cool, masculine, authentic compared to the suburban, social climbing mileu he spends so much being contemptous of. But the text itself has just a little more sympathy for these characters - his fussy, well-meaning sister and self-awarely spoiled brother, Robin's jealous fiancee, the p3ublisher he takes up with and dumps - and the gap gets interesting.
Strike makes more sense to me here, with that context. He's proudly aloof of his famous father, but there's a jealousy there too. His willingness to use people and throw them out of his life when he's done. The shade of longing for his old army life - discipline and his own authority, rather than cameraderie or sense of purpose of whatever. His ex - who seemed like a bit of a drama queen in the first book, but basically ok - is revealed here as an utter piece of work, thoroughly selfish, gratuitously cruel and snobby to boot. It rather raises the question - what kind of man would have that as the grand, torrid love afair of his life? ...more
I can honestly say that this is the first audiobook i've ever managed to listen to all the way through. Winchesters kinda wry, kinda snobby, not veryI can honestly say that this is the first audiobook i've ever managed to listen to all the way through. Winchesters kinda wry, kinda snobby, not very dense storytelling is just perfect for not completely missing the plot while walking or swimming or whatever.
It's a bit dated, but that adds a few touches of anachronistic cold war exotica here and there. One also has to assume that a lot of the more esoteric weirdnesses of living in some of these places has been ameliorated a lot in the years since by technology, but there's still a lot of fun details. ...more