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Drafting the Backlog

Strolling through over 250 of my drafts – which cunningly helped me avoid actually writing anything – it seems to me the best course of action will be to take a few days away from the blog in order to write and get a lot of outstanding and promised posts finished.  It comes to something when I can’t even muster strength to think objectively about the books I am reading and as I do drive to put out, at the very worst just ‘decent’ posts, then this is better off all round.

I shall be around all your blogs tomorrow to check in before my mini break and will be back before August so it isn’t anything to major but it is polite to at least inform you that I shall not be around for a while…I aim to be back with not only more book reviews but also all the other types of post I have mooted in the past year or so in order to diversify up…I may stop by to check if I have had comments but other than that please try not to cry yourselves to sleep without my presence.

 
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Posted by on 25/07/2014 in Blogging

 

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The long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler

Chazza1Down-and-out drunk Terry Lennox has a problem: his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to his only friend in the world: Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator. He’s willing to help a man down on his luck, but later, Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and things start to turn nasty. Marlowe finds himself drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in LA’s Idle Valley, where the rich are suffering one big suntanned hangover. Marlowe is sure Lennox didn’t kill his wife, but how many more stiffs will turn up before he gets to the truth?

This is by far Chandler’s most ambitious novel, doubling the size of its closest rival it’s exceptional example of noir detective literature and one I was most impressed with.

This is the sixth of the seven Marlowe novels – which can be read in any order – and is certainly the strongest.  This is a mature book showing the author getting to grips with the underside of American morals or lack thereof in some quarters.

At some point it became trendy to give the sleuth of any book or TV show  a drink problem or be a single parent or other such obstacles to ‘doing the job properly’ but Marlowe manages to be a fascinating character without these contrivances.  Chandler creates truly flawed characters,not just as a way to control the plot but to question the aims and thoughts of the individual and his or her place in society.

‘Alcohol is like love,’ he said.  ‘The first kiss is magic, the second intimate, the third is routine.  After that you take the girl’s clothes off’.

He’s a loner, an intellectual, although he would not admit it, a lover of Chess and drinking.  He has his ethical code and will stick to it, he does what is right (even if it doesn’t pay) and is capable of deep cynicism yet surprisingly, a strong sense of sentimentality. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 22/07/2014 in Crime

 

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Booking Up My Ideas

Nozza!Pottering through a well-known bookshop not too long ago, I had to stop and look at a book called Vanished Kingdoms which tells the histories of such forgotten duchies, kingdoms, empires and republics such as Rosenau, Sabaudia, Rusyn and Alt Clud.  Somehow I managed to avoid picking it up and introducing it to the swirling pool of books that I own and must read and it has instead joined the bottomless pit of my ‘wish list’.

Rather than find all my bits of paper, which I like to compile as it is seen as quaint by people into all of today’s technology, I decided to look at my Amazon wish list, last updated on Christmas Eve.  Exactly how I found the time on such a busy day I do not know as I remember the day clearly,  still there needs to be some mystery in the world I suppose.

Having culled 200 odd books off of said list sometime last year, the result now stands at 26 pages and 633 books still standing, that I  desire to read at some point (soon) in my life.  The list stretches back to 2005 and has, as you would expect of me, some diverse reading matter such as Lord Dufferin, John Wyndham, Dava Sobel, Flaubert and Kierkegaard to name some of the more well-known. Lets not  forget The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore or the many books have been recommended by you fine bloggers over the years, of which there have been many.

Rather than just taking a trip down memory lane, which is usually a nice thing, it has brought up the annoying thoughts that I will never be able to read all the books I wish too.  Even if I had a life of leisure, I couldn’t fit them all in, just saying I did though, this mortality would prevent me from rereading all of my favourite books again, it leaves me somewhat perplexed as to how to approach the whole situation.

Is it better to just live in ignorance and have pleasant surprises or to have reams of books that I stare at hoping one day to read them all whilst safe in the knowledge that I am buying books I do want.  Perhaps I am over thinking the whole situation and really I should just go wherever in my reading adventure as it will be as unique as yours.  It’s like the biggest Choose You Own Adventure book ever and nobody ever wins. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 19/07/2014 in Life, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Eyeballs

EyJust a short review today, as there isn’t that much to say about this type of book. Due my unpredictability, this 300th post is not the high drama one I’m sure you all anticipated…that will be the 400th one where I will attempt something unexpected and probably embarrassing.

Some people excel with language and thought, some leave you flabbergasted and that is why we can be thankful for books like this that disconcert and amuse in equal measures.

Those self-sacrificing readers of Private Eye magazine never miss an opportunity to send in contributions (especially when a small fee could be involved) that will amuse. Published within are a selection from a couple established columns and a smattering of never before published examples.

What the reader gets is a light-hearted read, well more of a book to dip into really, something for the coffee table and to amuse friends in a more placid moment of whatever it is you happen to be doing.

Dumb Britain is a column that has been running since 1997 and showcases the worrying extent of some people’s grasp on knowledge and common sense guesses when taking part in quiz shows.  Commentatorballs highlights the humorous slips of the tongue on live TV and Radio by newsreaders, sports personalities and Politicians etc.

Sometimes the Dumb Britain entries can seem a little too sneery and I agree with that to a certain extent but that is possibly because the compilers and the audience are perhaps more educated.  This is a minor point though as there are many examples of the surreal in some of the answers given.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 16/07/2014 in Humour

 

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Pigeons and Whisky

Today I got to talk about books and not just to myself like normal but to a potential employer.  My task for the interview was to talk for ten minutes on something that I am passionate about so it was a no brainer really.   I did however go a little ‘army general’ on the whole thing, there was excessive planning, moustache twiddling, arrows drawn all over the place, words forming their own salients at key strategic points and a definite plan to hide at least twenty miles behind the front lines, if possible.

Then like a mad scientist I distilled the whole thing down to a some headers, few big words and some bullet points to make it look something approaching professional and then I predictably ignored all the planning and just chatted away like a happy Gannet.  I even managed to use a glass of water as an example before backing myself into a corner with such a ludicrous analogy and dismissing it in such a subtle way that you could see it from outer space. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 15/07/2014 in Blogging, Life

 

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Silent Flight (of Fancy)

Recently I have been re-indulging in silent films, such is my desire to get into a little bit of everything and as usual I have been agog at how the simplest of situations can be turned into something really clever and still visually stunning.  Today’s post then is more heavily accented on the visual than usual.

Part of the charm that these films have, apart from crossing language boundaries and being universally accessible in any era, is their inventive nature.  With such constraints in place as there were in the technology, there was a need to innovate to capture the viewer, especially people of today who are spoilt with all their HD, 3D Ultra sharp coloured up special FX.

It’s art in its purest form, the whole body portrayed in dramatic terms to convey to the watcher what the character is experiencing.  Which is reminiscent of the actors in Greek plays who wore masks and would manipulate their voices and bodies in order to bring their message to the crowds watching.  Constraints always bring innovation and these days physicality is less important in films but perhaps it should be an inspiration to build on. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 13/07/2014 in Films

 

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Under the Greenwood Tree – Thomas Hardy

UtGTCentring on the quaint rural village of Mellstock, set deep within Hardy’s imagined and picturesque county of Wessex, the novel revolves around a double plot of the hopeful love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day and the tragic demise of the Mellstock Choir, and what the crumbling of long-held traditions means to the local community. The arrival of Mr Maybold, a new vicar with newfangled ideas, unsettles the local community with ideas of revolutionary change, in which the church and its generations-old choir are an anchor.

Feasting my eyes on the cover of this book just makes me want to go and sit under a tree and idly while away the hours betwixt reading and observing nature. I didn’t get around to indulging in any of the above but nevertheless enjoyed what I read.

Hardy has given us a short novel that is timeless, not only in the feel of the language but also in the story told.  The way it’s written almost encourages the reader to take the time to stop and relish all the little features that the mind’s eye conjures up.  I frequently caught myself peering at trees and enjoying the small and quite beleaguered nature that my abode is situated near.

The breeze had gone down, and the rustle of their feet and tones of their speech echoed with an alert rebound from every post, boundary-stone and ancient wall they passed, even where the distance of the echoes origin was less than a few yards.

The story centres around change, from the yearly seasons to the advent of modernity in varying and ever more intrusive ways. The slower more traditional way of life struggles valiantly against this ‘progress’ and brings home how much the innocent and rural life seems so much more preferable in these days of sensory overload and needless stress.  Perhaps I am being overly romantic but I would prefer a life that felt poetic to a life with a job that means nothing and another night of bad television.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 11/07/2014 in Classics

 

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