Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 96169 times)

shiftwork2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2017, 09:57:34 PM »
I finished the Danny Baker, which was pretty good, though quite uneven compared to the previous parts of the trilogy. He is still able to come up with a zinger (his reaction to Hughie Green's train set), and still seems to have an inexhaustible fund of stories to tell (the one about him complaining about leafblowers in a hotel is the winner in this volume), including more about the now almost legendary Spud. And name-dropping aplenty, including one story which shows that Alan Davies isn't quite as big a cunt as I'd always thought he was.

But this also covers the cancer year, which is heavy going anyway, but obviously sparked some memories for me. While he does occasionally veer close to the celebrity sin of writing about it like he's the only person who's ever gone through it, I can identify with a lot of things he says about his mindset at the time. It also made me realise that as horrible as some of the shit (primarily chemo) that I've been through is, I will thank the god that I don't believe in that I've never had to go through radiotherapy. He does seem chirpily optimistic that it'll never come back, and I hope for his sake that he's right.

And anyway, he has to live for another twenty years, as this book brings us right up to date, so he needs to have some more adventures to fill at least a couple more volumes.

I finished it today and agree with most of this.  It feels much less complete than Going To Sea In A Sieve.  The tone is uncertain and there are some jarring gear changes, but the spark is still there throughout.  Danny's not hugely prone to self-reflection so I did wonder how the serious aspects of the book would play out.  He takes a matter of fact approach, detailing his diagnosis and treatment quite unsentimentally.  As someone who has worked with cancer patients for 15 years I am ashamed to say I was shocked by his description of the side effects of radiotherapy, and humbled by his resolve to endure it.  I simply didn't know it could get that bad.  On a lighter note there are some brilliant comedy set pieces peppered throughout.  I don't think I was supposed to laugh but his incandescent rage at being let go from Radio London (or whatever it was called at the time) and thorough carpeting of those responsible was massively endearing and very, very funny.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2017, 10:40:47 PM »
Thanks for the Bernhard info. Will definitely give one of them a go at some point.

I'm just finishing Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts in the British Library Crime Classics series. Very enjoyable, as was Crofts' The Hogs Back Mystery in the same series. Very unusual set up - you know who commited the crime but not how, and one of the criminals doesn't really know either.

Anyway, after that I have Reservoir 13 and Laidlaw, as recommended on here, so thanks all.

zomgmouse

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #32 on: October 11, 2017, 10:44:45 PM »
About a quarter of the way through Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, enjoying it but it's quite hard going in places. Absolutely adored Mason & Dixon though so will definitely persevere.

The limericks will sustain you.

SpiderChrist

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2017, 10:07:43 AM »
Oblomov by Ivan Gonchorov. Read about Spike Milligan playing the titular character in a play and was intrigued enough to purchase the book. Enjoying it so far, some beautiful writing and very funny in places.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #34 on: October 12, 2017, 01:11:44 PM »
I'm about two thirds of the way through Mail Men, the recent book by Adrian Addison on the Daily Mail. Completely unauthorised, of course, so he can recount the scurril. I'm just getting to the Dacre years, which promises to be the most entertaining part of the book.

Catalogue Trousers

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #35 on: October 12, 2017, 02:33:39 PM »
Ramsey Campbell, Probably - a revised and expanded collection of essays on all sorts of things, but most of them somehow horror-related, by Campbell himself.

The man has a great sense of dry humour and a lot of passion to go with his writing ability. Particular stand-outs include the best take-down of Shaun Hutson's writing style that I've seen, an un-nerving account of an NVALA rally, and his re-vamped history of British spanking films, which manages to be informative, mildly nauseating, and hilarious throughout.

There's also a lot of personal stuff, some of which is genuinely harrowing.

Humane, angry, appreciative and mirthsome by turn. If you like his novels and short stories at all, this is a must-buy, and Drugstore Indian Press is to be commended on making this easily and cheaply available once more.

shiftwork2

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #36 on: October 12, 2017, 10:45:57 PM »
^ This is tremendously interesting and I will seek it out.  He's easily my favourite horror author; I first heard of him through his film reviews on Radio Merseyside (a long time ago).

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #37 on: October 14, 2017, 10:17:32 PM »
I finished Mail Men, which was a cracking read. It's really like two books in one - the first covers the founding of the paper and the years up until 1971, and the second is about the making of the paper as we know it today under two successive editors, David English and the seemingly bonkers Paul Dacre.

The founder of the paper, 'Sunny' Harmsworth, actually seems like he could have been a decent man in a more enlightened time. Certainly, compared to his successors, he doesn't come across as a frothing at the lips madman. Well, until he literally became a frothing at the lips madman. After his death, the paper fell into the hands of his brother, 'Bunny' Harmsworth, who was an unadventurous proprietor who would have been long forgotten if it wasn't for the fact that he became mates with Hitler and thought that the nazis were a great bunch of lads. After him, the paper passed onto his son, who was so dull that I can't even remember his silly name.

The real scurril kicks off with Vere Harmsworth, who appointed David English to knock the declining paper into shape, which he did by turning it into the horrorshow it's been ever since, and it's no surprise that he was also great mates with a fascist, one M. Thatcher. English stepped aside in the early nineties when Paul Dacre took over, and it seems likely that nothing short of death will stop him from carrying on as editor. He is almost dangerously committed - the story, which I think has been mentioned on CaB elsewhere, of his usual daily routine never involving him setting foot outside is bizarrely compelling - he is driven from home to the office, where he will spend 16-18 hours, and then driven home again, without ever coming into contact with anybody but newspapermen (and women). There's also the revelation that the ultimate badge of honour in the Mail office is a 'double cunting', where Dacre will use the word 'cunt' twice in one sentence whilst bollocking you. Otherwise, working for the Mail seems like an endurance test which most people despise.

Something lighter next - Killing Pablo!


BritishHobo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2017, 10:32:57 PM »
Finished Anthony Horowitz's The Word is Murder as mentioned in the crime thread. As a long-time fan of his the metafictional aspect (he's hired by a detective consultant for the police to write a book about a strange murder case), most notably a joyously bonkers scene melding reality with fiction, where a meeting between Horowitz and Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson about the Tintin 2 script is interrupted by his belligerent arsehole of a fictional detective barging in to drag Horowitz to a funeral, stopping only to tell Peter Jackson he thought Gandalf coming back to life in The Two Towers was bad writing.

But the mystery itself isn't too engaging, and has some very flimsy leaps of logic (one major deduction hangs on the fact that an injured child calls for his daddy when, the detective tells us, we all know injured children call for their mums - really?), plus a few too many Daily Mail we-can't-say-what-we-really-think-in-this-country-these-days moments.

It is meant to be a series, with I think a total of eight or nine books planned. To be honest I'll probably follow it because the novelty of seeing a favourite children's author of mine intertwine his career with a fictional mystery is fun enough a novelty to outweigh the cons.

Now to start Stephen and Owen Kings' big brick of a novel, Sleeping Beauties.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #39 on: October 15, 2017, 01:40:29 AM »
Finished Anthony Horowitz's The Word is Murder as mentioned in the crime thread. As a long-time fan of his the metafictional aspect (he's hired by a detective consultant for the police to write a book about a strange murder case), most notably a joyously bonkers scene melding reality with fiction, where a meeting between Horowitz and Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson about the Tintin 2 script is interrupted by his belligerent arsehole of a fictional detective barging in to drag Horowitz to a funeral, stopping only to tell Peter Jackson he thought Gandalf coming back to life in The Two Towers was bad writing.

But the mystery itself isn't too engaging, and has some very flimsy leaps of logic (one major deduction hangs on the fact that an injured child calls for his daddy when, the detective tells us, we all know injured children call for their mums - really?), plus a few too many Daily Mail we-can't-say-what-we-really-think-in-this-country-these-days moments.

It is meant to be a series, with I think a total of eight or nine books planned. To be honest I'll probably follow it because the novelty of seeing a favourite children's author of mine intertwine his career with a fictional mystery is fun enough a novelty to outweigh the cons.

Now to start Stephen and Owen Kings' big brick of a novel, Sleeping Beauties.

I think you should go back and read every Booker longlist, working backwards and giving yourself a month to do each one (with a blog, of course). We could then take bets at which year your mental health would seriously deteriorate.

I've really enjoyed your blog this year, by the way. It's been a little highlight every Thursday and you should definitely keep writing about the books you read.

BritishHobo

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2017, 09:33:20 AM »
Aw, cheers! That's lovely to hear.

I was half-tempted to carry on and cover the shortlist for Welsh Book of the Year, but they're announcing the winner for that quite soon, and one of the books is a fucking massive and expensive (albeit gorgeous) photobook.

Bored of Sleeping Beauties. It's another Big novel from King, but I just feel impatient with the scattered set-up.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2017, 11:21:41 AM »
Aw, cheers! That's lovely to hear.

I was half-tempted to carry on and cover the shortlist for Welsh Book of the Year, but they're announcing the winner for that quite soon, and one of the books is a fucking massive and expensive (albeit gorgeous) photobook.


I didn't even know there was one. I might look at a couple of those. Good to see Cove in there.

I've just finished Missing Fay by Adam Thorpe. In some ways it's similar to Reservoir 13 as it's (not) about a missing teenage girl but I didn't enjoy it half as much as the Jon McGregor book. It felt long even though it's just over 300 pages long. It was ok and the characters - generally, each chapter is from the POV of a different person who encounters Fay in one way or other - were well drawn but in a way it's the anti-History of Wolves, in as much as you're looking for exposition and closure, or at least clues, all the way through and when you get none it's a bit frustrating. Might read some horror next...

Norton Canes

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2017, 04:34:32 PM »
Diamonds Are Forever. My first Bond. A few chapters in, it's a better read than I expected - I'm sure that when I've browsed Bond novels in the past I've found the prose fairly basic, but this is pretty sophisticated and suspenseful, with plenty of detail. Also I thought it would be hard to get the visuals of the movie out of my head but honestly the novel reads at such a different pace to the film, I've quickly formed a very different picture of 007.

I always remember my dad, who was an avid fan of the Bond books, saying that one of the things he liked best about them was that they got straight to the action with little delay. Well I can only assume he was disappointed by Diamonds Are Forever as there's yet to be a single fist-fight.

The other thing to remember is that while the best Bond movies reek of 60's/70's glamour, this was written in the mid-50's when intercontinental travel by passenger jet was an even more rarefied thing. Great stuff, enjoying immensely.

tookish

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2017, 07:31:19 PM »
Because of how my brain works, I usually have a few books on the go. I've got 'Running In Heels' for the bath, which is fairly mean-spirited and uninspiring so far, but I'm determined not to be defeated by it. I'm reading Stardust on my bus journeys. Almost finished it, and it's fantastic.
I'm rereading The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch - I first read it when I was in my teens, and it floated back into my head a week or so ago. Then I've got Kafka On The Shore on the go, and The Gap of Time.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2017, 09:39:14 PM »
On this night of Booker prize anticipation, I have, of course, just finished reading, er, Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo, the story of how Pablo Escobar was hunted down and killed. Not a bad book, though to be honest, I only read it because I'm watching 'Narcos' at the minute (currently halfway through series three, so in the post-Pablo era), and wanted to see how much they'd messed with the story. The answer - not drastically, except where they obviously made stuff up that they thought would make better telly. But as I've just watched most of this on TV, most of the book was just deja-vu, and didn't really add a lot to what I already knew. Which, admittedly, isn't Bowden's fault, but still.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #45 on: October 18, 2017, 04:03:38 AM »
Nan Shepherd - The Living Mountain

Charlotte Peacock's biography of Nan Shepherd has just been published, in case you didn't already know: Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd

Fambo Number Mive

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #46 on: October 19, 2017, 01:40:40 PM »
Read 11-22-63 a week or so ago. Found it tough going and it seemed overlong and didn't get to the Kennedy bit until late in the story. References to IT and The Running Man, quite a lot to IT. Most of it seemed to be about the protagonist and his relationship with a woman from 1985, which I wasn't too bothered about.

Smeraldina Rima

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #47 on: October 23, 2017, 04:29:41 PM »
I reread "The Passer-through-Walls" by Marcel Aymé and found it funnier than I remembered. It's a short story about a man employed at the Ministry of Registration who at the age of fourty three finds that he can pass through walls. Making the most of his talent, he becomes the sensational anti-hero Garou-Garou, doing as he likes and frustrating the police by leaving the prison whenever he's put there. It's told in a matter of fact way, a little like "The Metamorphosis", and the ending stays in the mind. The statue of Aymé in Paris also commemorates this story:

Hangthebuggers

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #48 on: October 23, 2017, 04:34:02 PM »
David Simon: Homicide - A year on the killing streets.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #49 on: October 23, 2017, 04:37:21 PM »
There's also a lot of personal stuff, some of which is genuinely harrowing.

Can you elaborate on this a bit?  He's always struck me as one of the more adjusted, calm, and for want of a better word "normal" horror writers whenever I've read/listened to interviews with him.  A thoroughly pleasant chap who I assumed was worlds away from the Stephen King worlds of inner turmoil. 

The Drugstore Indian Press books I've got seem great so far.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #50 on: October 23, 2017, 04:39:17 PM »
I've just finished Matt Lucas' autobiography, and have to say that it was one of the better comedian's autobiographies I've ever read - and I do seem to read quite a few! I was pleased to find that, of all of the stuff he's created or written, he thinks 'Pompidou' is the best, as I've always had a soft spot for that. He also hates cheese, so has gone up in my estimation. I didn't realise how young he was when he first started appearing on TV - he would only have been about 20 when he first worked with Vic & Bob on 'Smell'.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #51 on: October 23, 2017, 11:07:01 PM »
The Subtle Knife, which I am too old to have read when authentically young.

Such a sombre, bleak universe, completely free of any kind of Potter or Tolkien style levity. Is not just traumatising subsequent generations?

Dannyhood91

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #52 on: October 24, 2017, 05:47:33 PM »
I'm gonna pick up something by Hunter S Thompson on the weekend.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #53 on: October 24, 2017, 06:40:05 PM »
Determined to finish Henry Green's Loving this week, after discovering and purchasing it a year ago. I loved Party Going and Blindness but gave up on Living about a third of the way in.

Serge

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #54 on: October 24, 2017, 08:12:01 PM »
I'm gonna pick up something by Hunter S Thompson on the weekend.

Have you read anything of his before? Funnily enough, I've been thinking of starting a thread on him....

billtheburger

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #55 on: October 24, 2017, 08:24:51 PM »
As mentioned in the old Picture Box thread, I had the pleasure of reading Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas over the summer.

I've just started City in the City by China Mieville, because I want to read it before they air it on the BBC in January.

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #56 on: October 25, 2017, 08:26:53 AM »
As mentioned in the old Picture Box thread, I had the pleasure of reading Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas over the summer.

I've just started City in the City by China Mieville, because I want to read it before they air it on the BBC in January.

Wow! First I've heard of this BBC adaptation. That'll be....interesting.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #57 on: October 25, 2017, 08:43:12 AM »
Currently reading the NYRB collection of Daphne Du Maurier's short stories including Don't Look Now.

They could do with a bit more pacing whipped into them, but these are some good, eerie stuff.  There's a real undercurrent of sadness to a lot of them.  I loved Kiss Me Again, Stranger.

Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #58 on: October 25, 2017, 04:38:45 PM »


Only the first 2 chapters in, but really enjoying it.

billtheburger

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #59 on: October 25, 2017, 08:05:35 PM »
Wow! First I've heard of this BBC adaptation. That'll be....interesting.
David Morrissey as Inspector Tyador Borlú
Adaptation by Tony Grisoni (Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Tideland, Red Riding etc.)
Tom Shankland directing.
China Mieville cameo.
&
Me :)

I'm looking forward to it.