An utterly, jaw-clenching, fingers-turning-into-claws, heart-burstingly enraging book. Sure I think we can probably all guess just how corrupt they syAn utterly, jaw-clenching, fingers-turning-into-claws, heart-burstingly enraging book. Sure I think we can probably all guess just how corrupt they system, but having it all laid out in an easily digestible (although hard to swallow) format is just infuriating.
I'm willing to bet Strong Poison was the point where having tinkered, experimented and tried out the skin of Lord Peter and Bunter over her earlier noI'm willing to bet Strong Poison was the point where having tinkered, experimented and tried out the skin of Lord Peter and Bunter over her earlier novels, DLS finally had the formula for purest Wimsey.
Not that she needed it of course as all Wimsey stories are by default gems of detection, humour and class evaluation. But Strong Poison has it all in undiluted genius - with a couple of wannabe Miss Marples' thrown in for good measure plus the added bonus of Lord Peter finally meeting his intellectual equal. If only she'd listen to his mother and sort out her eyebrows!...more
Prepare yourself for a shock: This is the first Steinbeck book I've ever read - which is bonkers as somehow I've managed to go through life acquiringPrepare yourself for a shock: This is the first Steinbeck book I've ever read - which is bonkers as somehow I've managed to go through life acquiring English Lit A-Levels and a degree without ever having to deal with the Grapes of Wrath or Harper Lee or any seminal American authors. I read Stig of the Dump at three different schools growing up, but I suspect that's unrelated.
I've clearly missed out as Cannery Row is low-fi genius. It's like a readable version of Big Sur heaving with characters you instantly connect with and begin rooting for as they drowse their way through life amidst the beautifully rendered sights and smells of California.
The man's clearly a genius, and I can't imagine what successive teachers were thinking concentrating on bloody Tess of the bloody D'Urbervilles digging up turnips when my sixteen year-old self would've clearly preferred Mack and the boys drinking mixed spirits from the giving jug whilst catching frogs, and Doc digging up Octopuses. Teachers eh?
Generally I love Alain de Botton. I love the way he manages to write so simply and without frippery, and yet still manage to get you thinking about ofGenerally I love Alain de Botton. I love the way he manages to write so simply and without frippery, and yet still manage to get you thinking about often quite complex Philosophical theories, or just question your own standpoint.
I tend to finish his books refreshed and with new-found mental tools to change my life or to live it better. For five minutes at least anyway. The News is no different: He picks apart the various ways 'the news' is divided up and asks 'what is this for? what are we getting out of this? what is the benefit to us?'
Quite quickly you can see the disconnects between what we have and the possibilities of what news could (or indeed should) be. However - and there's always an *however* whilst de Botton's thesis work particularly well with Foreign news, celebrity culture and the general concept of purpose, he does get bogged down about two-thirds of the way into the book. It's also interesting that he avoids probably the section that most men read first, the sport, which if anything is closest to a purely 'factual' type of news.
Gripes aside, I challenge you to read this without seeing what we're presented as news through a less-forgiving prism. And if that means less Kim Kardashian and no Page 3 or Fox News, then I'm all for it....more
Satisfyingly bonkers ancient Scandi saga, with all the usual enjoyably odd (to modern eyes anyway) elements I love in these things: People randomly buSatisfyingly bonkers ancient Scandi saga, with all the usual enjoyably odd (to modern eyes anyway) elements I love in these things: People randomly bursting into poems about their hosts, poems that necessarily have to have at least footnotes per word, and heroic violence. Plus the usual potted family histories that fully take up at least half of the book....more
It was very much like a set of Russian dolls, with variations on a theme (missing fathers - missing sons), nested inside eOh, how to approach this...
It was very much like a set of Russian dolls, with variations on a theme (missing fathers - missing sons), nested inside each of the separate-but-connected story lines. Tragedy looms, with events from the past casting a shadow of the central characters and sparking similar chains of events. The characters glow with personality and New York, particularly the Empire State Building chapter is lovingly rendered. Interspersed with all this Safran Foer plays with physical construction of the book form, with fonts changing, pictures and single words popping up and pages from one of the character's books forming whole chapters.
It's very clever, but as the pages mount up this flim-flammery feels a bit like padding, or light relief to distract your brain from having to concentrate so much. Not that working hard when you're reading is a bad thing of course, but in chuck random timelines and hint at hidden connections between all the characters and it feels like too many ideas have been thrown at the drawing board.
On the other hand, this trickery does mean the whole thing comes to an end mercifully earlier than expected....more
It's not often you can say the film version is better than the original book. The 1972 Peter Ustinov film *obvs*.
Not that Death on the Nile isn't goodIt's not often you can say the film version is better than the original book. The 1972 Peter Ustinov film *obvs*.
Not that Death on the Nile isn't good of course, with all the usual Christie false trails, hidden clues and dodgy characters. There's even an exotic twist on the locked-room setting in the form of a Nile steamer - all aces as ever.
The difference however comes with the ability of the film to clear away the hundreds of story lines that even Christie seemingly can't be bothered with: For example Richetti, Cornelia Robson and the Tim Allerton/Joanna Southwood feel like they are merely there to provide a crowd so the culprits are less easily spotted, and their stories are relatively smudged into the denouement.
Having said all that, this is a classic Christie so it's still double-thumbs-up aces - I just like the film more....more
One the best things about the Wimsey novels is the way you can luxuriate in Lord Peter's life; his family, wardrobe, toilette, taste in cigars and/orOne the best things about the Wimsey novels is the way you can luxuriate in Lord Peter's life; his family, wardrobe, toilette, taste in cigars and/or spirits and the shared love of crossword puzzles with his creator all intervene in the solving of the various cases. And in each case it's all for the better as this background fluff, combined with Sayers' fiendish eye for a crime, make a Wimsey novel one to wallow in.
However, how often do you have time to pick the teeth out of carefully crafted crime or the Turkish tobacco from a Sobranie? Enter this collection of short stories, each one a distillation of the Wimsey oeuvre, even down to the various dissertations on dress, snouts and fine wine, only shorter - perfect for the commute in....more
Having written an amazing essay on WW1 poetry for my GCSEs I thought I knew about this stuff. Turns out I should've paid more attention to the criticsHaving written an amazing essay on WW1 poetry for my GCSEs I thought I knew about this stuff. Turns out I should've paid more attention to the critics who harshly savaged my lengthy dissection of 'If I should die...' with a 3 out of 10 and a scraped 'C'.
However my groundwork in disappointment stood me in good stead because once I'd managed to wade my way through editor Jon Silkin's dense intro it now all makes perfect sense.
Obviously as he's choosing the selection, the poems neatly illustrate his theories, particularly the move from patriotism to numbed brutality and the underlying sense of doom that was equally present in the German and French trenches as the good old Tommy.
What was more interesting/moving wasn't the mud and blood, but the more modern, stream of conscious poems seemingly not about war but laden with portents, like the extracts of Jones' 'In Parenthesis', the brilliant Edward Thomas and Herbert Read.
Now all I've got to do is invent a time machine, go back to school and rewrite that essay. Obvs I wouldn't stop the war... what would I do with this newfound info if there wasn't a war? ...more