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  • Patrick Thistle
    replied
    Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post
    I was early for my Welsh class yesterday so had a nose in thd Humanities Library next door. Brought back good memories. Delighted to find I have borrowing rights so took out 'The Roman Cult of Mithras' by Manfred Clauss. It's a topic I've wanted to read up on.
    Finished this. It was really accessible and unlike some other books just presents the archaeological evidence without speculating on what it all means.

    Have borrowed another couple of books off the religious history shelves.

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  • imp
    replied
    Originally posted by via vicaria View Post
    Currently coming close to finishing Lot by Bryan Washington, which has been absolutely great. Giving me modern day Last Exit to Brooklyn vibes in both subject and style.
    I read the first few pages of that in Blackwell's a few months ago - would have bought it but was struggling for suitcase space so had to leave it off my pile as it's still in hardback. Had it on my Xmas list but no one delivered - will probably wait for the paperback now.

    Currently reading 'Albert Speer: Eine deutsche Karriere' by Magnus Brechen. You need something to cheer you up in a grey January in Mitteleuropa.

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  • via vicaria
    replied
    Currently coming close to finishing Lot by Bryan Washington, which has been absolutely great. Giving me modern day Last Exit to Brooklyn vibes in both subject and style.

    Leave a comment:


  • Amor de Cosmos
    replied
    I was looking to obtain Gerald Kersh's Night and the City, as it's reckoned to be an British noir classic. But somehow got sidetracked into buying Fowlers End instead and bugger me, I'm so glad I did.

    Kersh, for those unfamiliar, was a Jewish/British journalist and pulp author active from the late 30s through the 50s. He then moved to the US where he died in 1968. Fowlers End is a sort of farewell fuck-you memoir to the UK and one of the funniest books I've read in years. Michael Moorcock, who wrote the introduction to my copy, compares it to Ealing comedies of the same era. He's not wrong but, be warned, it's also a darn sight grubbier.

    Kersh was a cinema manager, bodyguard, debt collector, fish and chip cook, travelling salesman, French teacher and wrestler while trying to make it as a writer. In uniquely twisted ways Fowlers End draws on each of those experiences. There is a story, but it's fairly thin and irrelevant. The book is basically a series of monologes and conversations between the characters, who I could list but anything I said wouldn't come close to doing justice to them. This is Wodehouse quality stuff, but from an entirely different perspective. Give yourself a treat and find a copy.

    Oh, one caveat. If you're not familiar with London Jewish dialect and expressions, or Cockney rhyming slang, you may find some passages tricky. There's a fairly comprehensive glossary in the book, which helps, but it'd interupt the wonderful flow of dialogue.

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  • Sam
    replied
    Finished Mrs Caliban, started Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James.

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  • Patrick Thistle
    replied
    I was early for my Welsh class yesterday so had a nose in thd Humanities Library next door. Brought back good memories. Delighted to find I have borrowing rights so took out 'The Roman Cult of Mithras' by Manfred Clauss. It's a topic I've wanted to read up on.

    Leave a comment:


  • San Bernardhinault
    replied
    I got about 50 pages into Gravity's Rainbow and didn't really have the faintest idea what was happening, or why I should care, or who the people were. It was turgid going and I'd read a few sentences and just get bored. I might go back to it at some point when I have an extended period of time and no other distractions, but I was getting nothing of value.

    I've now started reading the Booker winning Milkman, which is altogether much less of a drag.

    Leave a comment:


  • Incandenza
    replied
    Haven't posted here in a while. What I've read recently:

    Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties - Tom O'Neill: a bit long, but enjoyable read even though the hoped for big reveal about Charles Manson never comes. It's a book about doing research as much as anything else, and O'Neill is upfront in talking about how much he suffered in trying to write the book. The quick pitch is that Vincent Bugliosi wasn't truthful in Helter Skelter as you may assume, leaving out information that could change the believability of the whole race war basis for Manson's murders. That's what set O'Neill off down the road that led to drug connections, either incompetent or corrupt cops, oh, and the CIA's MK ULTRA mind control program.

    My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Otessa Moshfegh: as entertaining and darkly comic as all of the reviews said. It drags a bit in the middle, but still a novel that I tore through.

    Furious Hours: Murder, Faud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee - Casey Cep: brilliant in parts, but I still feel like it's three different stories kind of imperfectly smushed together.

    Leave a comment:


  • Satchmo Distel
    replied
    Stardust by Joseph Kanon, a crime novel set in Hollywood in 1945 as the witchhunt was just starting to emerge from the embers of WW2. Dialogue and pacing are excellent, but with a more sympathetic approach to flawed, damaged characters than one would usually find in an LA noir novel.

    I'm keen to check out his other work.
    Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 21-12-2019, 20:12.

    Leave a comment:


  • Amor de Cosmos
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchmo Distel View Post
    Does Herron maintain this quality in his subsequent Slough House books?
    I'm mid-Joe Country, the most recent of the 'Slough House' series. In it Peter Judd (aka Boris Johnson) reappears after a couple of volumes away. Out of government and running his own PR company named Bullingdon Fopp, he's planning another run at 10 Downing Street and needs MI5's black info. In return, over lunch with the current #1, he lets drop his youthful bonking session with the current PM (by inference Theresa May.)

    It's really very funny, and not at all like the series' publicity which promises a modern LeCarré.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sporting
    replied
    I'm often confused by Pynchon but the vocabulary is so rich that it's sort of worth treating first readings as enjoyable surrealistic dream reads. Logical understanding may or may not come later.

    Leave a comment:


  • delicatemoth
    replied
    She is an excellent writer LS, and it pleases me to hear that she isn't anti-trans (writers and other creative types I like turning out to be transphobes is an ongoing low-key fear of mine).

    Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post
    Next up is - finally - Gravity's Rainbow. If experience of Pynchon is anything to go by, I'll love it but will still be reading it next easter.
    I really liked it, but at first was hopelessly confused. After a couple of hundred pages I stopped, went back to the beginning and then read it through, and found it much more manageable for the restart.

    Just finished 'A Safe Girl To Love', a book of short stories by Canadian trans writer Casey Plett. Really affecting and highly recommended. I have her novel 'Little Fish' and will post about that when I've read it.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lang Spoon
    replied
    That Kay annoys people such as transphobe /aspiring Fascist/Linehanite Stuart Campbell in her role as Scots Makar makes me really want to check her out.

    Leave a comment:


  • Vicarious Thrillseeker
    replied
    I've just finished 'Trumpet' by Jackie Kay. Loved it, Kay writes so poetically and uses different voices so beautifully.

    Leave a comment:


  • Patrick Thistle
    replied
    I've read The Queeriodic Table by Harriet Dyer. It's a very brief introduction to LGBT+ culture. It also has ta great diagram to explain what all the different things are regarding gender and sexuality which really helped me "get" it.

    Leave a comment:


  • RobW
    replied
    Originally posted by RobW View Post
    Finished Iron Gustav, and started Julian Cope's Japrocksampler this week, making lots of notes.
    Largely excellent read, though got bit weary of Cope's undiluted enthusiasm by the end. Still, have good lot of albums to check out.

    Leave a comment:


  • Vicarious Thrillseeker
    replied
    Originally posted by Satchmo Distel View Post
    I am one book into the Patrick Melrose series by Edward St Aubyn. It's a beautiful, engrossing book, highly rewarding but a very tough read
    Just to echo your comments. So harrowing, so beautifully written.

    Leave a comment:


  • RobW
    replied
    Finished Iron Gustav, and started Julian Cope's Japrocksampler this week, making lots of notes.

    Leave a comment:


  • WOM
    replied
    I'm in the final 10 pages of the Ronan Farrow book Catch and Kill, about the whole Harvey Weinstein / Matt Lauer thing. It's an incredible story and makes NBC look like craven cowards and liars. And Weinstein comes across as every bit as malicious and villainous as you'd imagine.

    Leave a comment:


  • Satchmo Distel
    replied
    I am one book into the Patrick Melrose series by Edward St Aubyn. It's a beautiful, engrossing book, highly rewarding but a very tough read. Although I appreciate that it contains "acerbic comedy" (Zadie Smith review), mainly at the expense of the pretentious friends of the family, I doubt it will make me laugh very often because the topic is just too dark and distressing. Strong echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I felt.

    Leave a comment:


  • Patrick Thistle
    replied
    Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post
    I've just started Nemesis Games, the fifth book in The Expanse series.
    About halfway through this and it's quite disjointed, jumping about between the main characters. I'm finding it a bit annoying.

    Leave a comment:


  • Patrick Thistle
    replied
    I've just started Nemesis Games, the fifth book in The Expanse series.

    Leave a comment:


  • Amor de Cosmos
    replied
    I've read three of them so far, and I'd say on the whole yes, with a couple of caveats. It could be me, but he appears to fishing for a TV series sometimes. He even describes characters who resemble well known actors, Jackson Lamb looks like Timothy Spall, for example. Not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe indicates he's looking at the possibilities of a different medium beyond the book which can lead to formulaic writing. I should emphasise however that hasn't happened yet.

    Johnson is mentioned in the second book, but has an even bigger role in the third one than he did in the first. I suspect he'll appear in the others too. He's defence minister by then, which means he has a more direct influence on Slough House and "The Park" than he does in the first.

    was Herron the only writer predicting today's Tory party as far back as 2010?

    Good question. Now, of course, it's a burgeoning genre. I just finished The Cockroach (recommended), and am about to start LeCarré's latest. But earlier than that none I'm aware of.

    Leave a comment:


  • Satchmo Distel
    replied
    Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    I was going to add Mick Herron's Slow Horses to the espionage thread, but besides being an excellent spy story it's also remarkably prescient. Published in 2010 it not only predicts, pretty exactly, how and when the extreme right would take over the Conservative party. It also has a diaphanous and devastatingly accurate portrayal of Boris Johnson, as their leader in waiting.
    Last night I read the chapter where Johnson enters the narrative. It's definitely him, and devastating in how it shows the differences between his bumbling persona and the nastiness of the real man. Which makes me wonder: was Herron the only writer predicting today's Tory party as far back as 2010?

    Does Herron maintain this quality in his subsequent Slough House books?
    Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 04-11-2019, 15:56.

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  • WOM
    replied
    I may start a Books on Film thread, but just finished Final Cut by Stephen Bach about the disastrous making of Heaven's Gate by Michael Cimino. I'd read the broad strokes before in a number of other books, but this was the deep dive written by one of the producers. It's a tale of ego, fear and bad management. It was the result of a hundred small decisions that added up to a catastrophe. It killed one of the most storied studios in Hollywood history.

    It's on all the must-read lists about film, and I can see why. It's honest, insightful educational and entertaining.

    Leave a comment:

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