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    You mean you didn't get called in for an interview? Usually they ask for at least three 'sample posts' as well. I assume you're on trial for the first six months.

    @ad hoc - I've had that book on my shelf for almost three years now. Not even sure why I bought it to start with. Give us an update when you get to the end if you have the chance.

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      Originally posted by WOM View Post
      Just stared Heart of Darkness by Conrad. Heard it's great, but a challenge. Will report back as to whether this Conrad fellow has a future in writing.
      Well, I'm not entirely sure what the big deal was, but a very good read. I think I was looking for something more 'epic', what with Apocalypse Now being based on it and all. As well - and this was my fault - I thought the whole book was Heart of Darkness. It's not...the front half is, and the back half is a collection of short stories. So when I reached the half-way point and thought "Now where does it go from here?", it didn't. It just ended.

      So, uh, yeah...good story well told. But I think I was looking for more. Writes well, this Conrad kid. Especially with his first language not even being English and all.

      The short stories are very good, and based largely on Conrad's years at sea. I'm going to back and have another run at Lord Jim now.

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        Welcome to the board, Mark.

        I expect to start on this tonight. Can't wait.

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          Two cracking reads:

          1) Bread for All, The Origins of the Welfare State (by Chris Renwick, 2017), I’ve only started it but fascinating so far.

          2) Vernon Subutex 1 (Virginie Despentes, 2015), again only half way through but great so far. Vernon Subutex 1 has been described as "the Comédie humaine of our times" by a French reviewer, what Balzac would have written on French contemporary society had he lived in Paris in the 1990s. First opus of a trilogy (Vernon Subutex 2 in 2016 and Vernon Subutex 3, 2017).
          It is a disturbing, Houellebecq-esque, grungy, sex drugs & rock 'n' punk novel, a Marmite sort of book, you’ll love it or hate it. I’m very much liking it. And so did Eileen Battersby from The Irish Times: Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes: One of the books of the year, if not the decade

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            Welcome to Mark too.

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              Welcome to Mark three.

              In need of insomnia relief last night i started a recent Rankin (Even Dogs in the Wild) on a kindle. Familiar elements but I like them. And a wee dug- the title didn't lie!

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                Originally posted by ad hoc View Post
                I'm currently reading Danubia: A personal history of Habsburg Europe by Simon Winder. I'm not sure if I like it. It has some very funny bits, and I am learning a lot, but effectively it is a travel book in which the travel is "through the ages" rather than geographical, and frequently he drops in something that sounds interesting but then proceeds to not mention it again. . I think on balance I'd give it a recommendation.

                He has another one (before this one) called Germania, on the history of Germany (or probably better said, the German speaking parts of Europe, I think)
                I enjoyed Germania, and would recommend it.

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                  I've started reading 'Ready Player One' after a friend saw my wife on Monday gave her the book and said there's a film coming out and her husband wants to go see it with me so I need to read the book.

                  It's alright. I'm quite enjoying it.

                  Also got 'Why We Sleep' by Matthew Walker on the go although it's making me anxious about how messed up my sleep is.

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                    I've been reading voraciously over the past few months. Titles include Don Winslow (Death & Life of Bobby Z, Isle of Joy, Cartel) David Mitchell (Bone Clocks) Homo Deus, a few Jack Reachers, Lionel Davidson (Kolymsky Heights, A Long Way to Shiloh) Tim Parks (Medici Money) Philip Kerr (Prussian Blue) Blake Crouch (Dark Matter) Ian Rankine (A Question of Blood) and a bunch still lying beside my bed, jostling for attention.

                    I will try to comment on them but I'm really posting about John Le Carre's latest, A Legacy of Spies. I really like him and I'm surprised that there are still quite a few of his I haven't read. They are all very well written as well as being great stories but I've been left somewhat deflated by his latest, maybe last, effort.

                    I was a bit late to work yesterday because I'd only a few pages left and wanted to finish it. When I did, I was left with a strange feeling. This is the first Le Carre I've read for a few years and it's enjoyable but not great. It is meant to be a tying up of the Tinker Tailor George Smiley loose ends but it really isn't. It also has a few slightly confusing parts where I had to go back and reread because I wasn't sure who was talking. Poor editing I suspect. And it seems to end about 150 pages short. Unless he's holding that story back for another book but that would be a very poor show. A very poor show indeed.

                    If you've read it, I'm referring to the detail of what happens to Alec Leamus & Liz Gold at the Wall and prior. Plus we only get a couple of pages from old George who must be, what, well over a hundred now?

                    What was there was good but I was left with the feeling of meeting up with an old girlfriend over lunch. The attraction is still there so the day runs enjoyably and with mounting anticipation into evening and inevitably to bed. The foreplay is slow and familiar, the memories reawakening, excitement mounting. Then she slowly takes me from her mouth just before its too late and slips silently out of bed, her wordless smile saying, don't worry, I'll be back to finish you off in a moment. I'm lying back, hands behind head, feeling relaxed but with a fair amount of tension still there wondering where she's gone. Hopefully she's not having a dump, a pish I could cope with, when a text pings into my phone. It's her. 'That's your lot, bye now.'

                    That's what reading A Legacy of Spies felt like.

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                      That was quite the metaphor EK.

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                        Yeah. I was impressed.

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                          I finished Ready Player One. I kept expecting a super big twist but there wasn't one.

                          I got a sense it was a bit of wish fulfilment. Like the author thought 'I wish my in depth knowledge of vintage computer games, 80s movies and science fiction were highly prized commodities' so went and wrote a book where they were the most valuable things you could have.

                          I enjoyed it though.

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                            Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                            Yeah. I was impressed.
                            Thanks Amor. Do you think the Guardian might be interested?

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                              Currently reading 'Sapiens' (half-way through) and Aldous Huxley's 'Eyeless in Gaza' which, although I normally hate books that leap backwards and forwards chronologically, is rather enjoyable so far.

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                                Been having a winter book binge recently.

                                Skipped through Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (Oryx & Crake, The Year of The Flood, and MaddAddam ). A sci-fi-ish set of novels centred around a man-made pandemic event. A little contrived in some respects of plotting, but a well told and thought-provoking story.


                                Also read some pop music related books. Wilko Johnson’s not-dead-after-all updated autobiography was decent enough, but left me liking him less. Mostly because he was clearly a bit of cantankerous git, but also as a result of what he left out (forgotten because of all the speed he took?) or glossed over.

                                A couple of dj autobio books as well. Mark Radcliffe’s Reelin In The Years & Mark Ellen’s Rock Stars Stole My Life!. Both were Xmas presents that I’d never think to buy myself, that had some amusing stories that I could enjoy & connect with as we’re not that different in age. The trouble is I’d also just read the Alan Partridge, Nomad book just beforehand, and now I can’t read this sort of DJ/music hack memoir stuff, no matter how ironic and self-affacing they are, without thinking about the ridiculousness of Partridge in their stories. A-ha! indeed.

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                                  Reading two books about politicians:

                                  The Prime Minister - the Office and its Holders since 1945 by Peter Hennessy is very dry in places where it dwells on the constitutional niceties of "prime ministerial government vs Cabinet government" and gives more details on the changing system of Cabinet committees and such like than one would necessarily want to read, but lots of fascinating stuff about the individuals and their big decisions nonetheless.

                                  A Very English Scandal by John Preston, about the saga which led to the Jeremy Thorpe murder trial, is absolute dynamite. Barely put-downable, jaw-dropping stuff, very well-written.

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                                    I'm on to book three of the Expanse series, 'Abaddon's Gate'. The titles are preposterous really.

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                                      This book has turned into coup and counter-coup in a spaceship. Which makes it a lot like another sci-fi book I read recently.

                                      Also the human on human conflict inside the ship is much less interesting than the alien shit going on outside.

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                                        I've finished the book. I think I'm done with the series now even though there are several more books.

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                                          Read my first Harlan Coben book, two weeks ago. Now on the 4th. It's 'pulp fiction', but he don't half drag you in, instantly.

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                                            Rereading The Family Arsenal by Paul Theroux. Should just have picked up Conrad’s Secret Agent again. Am struggling to work out just why I was so into Theroux from about 16 to 24.

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                                              Cripes, it's got to be forty years since I read that! I was into Theroux for a short time too, mainly because of the railway books.

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                                                I'm reading Tropic of Capricorn right now. I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure if it's any good or if I'm even enjoying it. But it seems like something I ought to read. And it's not awful.

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                                                  Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                                                  Cripes, it's got to be forty years since I read that! I was into Theroux for a short time too, mainly because of the railway books.
                                                  Oh yeah his travel books were great. Waspish but never dull. That whole genre seems about dead now, travel writing if done at all is often combined with fairly sketchy popular history or trying too hard “characters” filling the pages with wacky drivel, 10th rate Bryson stuff (and I don’t like Bryson to start with).
                                                  Last edited by Lang Spoon; 22-02-2018, 18:45.

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                                                    La Signora picked an old advanced copy of Douglas Preston's The Lost City of the Monkey God the other day. She thought I might like it, and she was spot on. It's the story of the first (2015) expedition into La Mosquitia region of Honduras to explore La Ciudad Blanca, a "lost" city long believed to be legendary. I can't believe I knew nothing about this. I was a driven to this continent by an adolescent desire to visit Mayan cities. Which I did. Since then I guess my interest has waned, but this discovery is truly remarkable. So far the site of The City of the Jaguar, as it's now called, covers over three square kilometres, and is composed of ten "plazas" (most probably agricultural areas) each surrounded by settlements that include pyramids and canals.

                                                    Preston was assigned to the expedition as a journalist for National Geographic, and he's done an excellent job. First in conveying how remote the area is — it's estimated that that no one has set foot in the territory for over three hundred years. Secondly the dangers of the terrain, snakes, bugs, apocalyptic rainfall etc. Third in describing how it was found using laser plotting (Lidar, see link below.) Fourth, in recounting the criticisms from everyone from fellow archaeologists and anthropologists, to adjacent indigenous populations. Fifth, the consequences of the parasites everyone returned with. Many of the party got seriously ill, and continue to be so. Well worth reading.

                                                    Recent Guardian article on Lidar and the City of the Jaguar
                                                    Last edited by Amor de Cosmos; 22-02-2018, 19:09.

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