Main Menu

Support CaB

Subscribers don't see this.

Recent

Welcome to Cook'd and Bomb'd. Please login or sign up.

August 19, 2022, 09:47:59 AM

Login with username, password and session length

Tip jar

If you like CaB and wish to support it, you can use PayPal or KoFi. Thank you, and I hope you continue to enjoy the site - Neil.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

What are you reading?

Started by Talulah, really!, October 04, 2017, 10:07:22 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

sevendaughters

here's some I read this year

John le Carre - Silverview.

Probably third tier le Carre but as you say, tight and probably better than most. The characters are all a kind of remix of previous characters - Proctor is a bit Guillam and a bit Smiley, Edward is Axel fro A Perfect Spy, Deborah is Connie from Tinker Tailor/Smiley's People, etc - but it works, even if they are less queered and unstable than their previous iterations. The modern service are much better than the old lot and half the work is done for them with computers. All Proctor has to do is check some wires, interview an old couple, and then bish bash bosh he wraps it up. The daughter character is a bit annoying but I can actually see her as a particular kind of home counties slightly rebellious-but-dull type. She wasn't as clunky as I expected. Julian obviously the 'what if le Carre hadn't been in the service' type. almost a bit too squeaky clean and willing, his father trauma a bit too near the surface.

Keith Roberts - Pavane
British sci-fi novel that proceeds on the idea that Elizabeth I was assassinated in 1588 and the Spanish were partially victorious, thus bringing greater papal influence on Britain. It's set in 1968 (when it was written) but the technology is like 1820 because the church keep banning things like diesel and street lights. Mostly set in Dorset that is constantly plagued by bandits and a kind of weird feudalism with a class system. I liked this a lot, a great idea well executed. Bit niche for most but it plays the story out more than the concept.

Umberto Eco - Foucault's Pendulum
Less successful follow-up to Name of the Rose (80m sold!) but very enjoyable: we open in a French museum where the main character is hiding, waiting for representatives of the Knights Templar (long disbanded, as in centuries) to turn up as he believes he has found out they are still going; it's a conspiracy theory and a meta-novel about conspiracies, and also a lot of stylistic exercises wrapped in one. It's too hard to explain here really and possibly too smart-arsed for many.

bell hooks - All About Love
Repetitive contemporary theory book that becomes dull self-help really quickly. I love hooks' work on film and literature, but this is just full of nice-sounding instagrammables like Redeemed and restored, love returns us to the promise of everlasting life. When we love we can let our hearts speak. AVOID.

Couldn't get on with Rings of Saturn so discarded. Started The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell instead.

Famous Mortimer

Gina Wohldorf - "Security"

Like a big-budget thriller movie, just in book form. Interesting structure (entirely "seen" through security cameras at the empty mega-hotel where all the action takes place), with some good if fairly stereotypical characters.

Artie Fufkin

I just finished reading (well, it took me about 30 minutes) Andrew Shananan's short story In The Room. Which I loved. Really delightful, odd little story.

Spoiler alert
I'm presuming the narrator has mental health issues, and he has problems with birds crashing into his 22nd floor window, until one day Dumbo smashes through it.
[close]

As I say, it's only about 50 pages long, max. But really enjoyable. I've read one of his books before (Before And After, to which there is a sequel, I believe), and loved that too.

Kankurette

Feel free to point and laugh, but...I got the Chronicles of Narnia box set with the original illustrations and am working my way through it. It's in chronological order of what happened in the series, not how CS Lewis wrote them (like my mum's box set), so instead of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it starts with The Magician's Nephew, and The Horse & His Boy is third instead of penultimate. Always loved the Narnia books, even though The Last Battle is as subtle as being donged over the head with a brick.

(On a related note, Neil Gaiman's story about the Problem of Susan was a load of edgelordy shit. I mean, Jadis fucking Aslan? Really? Ursula Vernon's story about Susan falling in love with a dwarf while she was a queen handled the Susan thing much better. Also, Ana Mardoll is a fucking idiot and should never be allowed anywhere near the Narnia books. There are loads of legitimate things to dislike/criticise about them. You don't need to make stuff up like 'Shasta is mean to Aravis for wanting to be carried around by slaves, abloobloobloo'.)

Artie Fufkin

Foe - Iain Reid

Just started this, and it's really good, in a weird way (although I think I know what is actually going on). Great atmos. Bloke gets randomly accepted to go into space.

Famous Mortimer

I just read "The Stranger" by Albert Camus. While going through it, I kept having ideas about what Camus was trying to get across, so it's quite lucky that I have a companion book that I found in a charity shop years ago, "Looking for The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic" by Alice Kaplan, so I'll read that next and see what it reckons.

Artie Fufkin

Quote from: Artie Fufkin on June 16, 2022, 01:11:17 PMFoe - Iain Reid

Just started this, and it's really good, in a weird way (although I think I know what is actually going on). Great atmos. Bloke gets randomly accepted to go into space.
About halfway through, now. Makes me anxious reading it. I still think I think I know what's going on. I bet I'll be wrong though.

Ray Travez

Ghostwriting by Andrew Crofts. It was ok; full of tips on how to become a ghostwriter, which I have no intention of being, but I enjoyed his Confessions of a Ghostwriter, so that kept me reading.

Artie Fufkin

Quote from: Artie Fufkin on June 16, 2022, 01:11:17 PMFoe - Iain Reid

Just started this, and it's really good, in a weird way (although I think I know what is actually going on). Great atmos. Bloke gets randomly accepted to go into space.

Yep. Really enjoyed this. Didn't guess the ending.
Spoiler alert
Nice twist.
[close]
Apparently being made into a film.

Poobum

Really like Foe. It's lovely how it all clicks into place once you know.

Gave up on Across the River and into the Trees. Love Hemingway, but I was fed up of reading the same repetitive conversations between Renata and the Colonel. Reads like a recollection if Hemingway's idealized almost naïve infatuation with a younger woman, because that's basically what it is.

Quote from: Poobum on July 01, 2022, 02:53:06 PMGave up on Across the River and into the Trees. Love Hemingway, but I was fed up of reading the same repetitive conversations between Renata and the Colonel. Reads like a recollection if Hemingway's idealized almost naïve infatuation with a younger woman, because that's basically what it is.

oof, yeah. I read that last year. Not his finest hour.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. It's very interesting and all, but fuck, it's hard work to read. Just dense pages full of facts and figures and really long Russian names. The picture of him on the front of the book looks just like my Grandad too.

Apparently this is the abridged version at 600 pages. The unabridged version is something like 2000 pages.

I think the most interesting thing about it so far (half way in) is that you didn't necessarily have to have done anything wrong during the Stalinist regime, but the various Soviet agencies had quotas of "enemies of the state" that they had to fulfil every month, so if they came to arrest you, the best thing to do was run away, then they'd sack you off and arrest somebody else. Then there's the stuff about mass arrest of anyone who was a Russian soldier during WW2, especially the POW's, who got treated like animals by the Germans because the USSR never signed the Hague Convention.

Artie Fufkin

Quote from: Poobum on July 01, 2022, 02:53:06 PMReally like Foe. It's lovely how it all clicks into place once you know.
Yeah. I have a mind to read it again now I know.

Started the audiobook version of Alan Moore's Jerusalem. First chapter was 1hr 45mins.

Kankurette

The Orphan's Tales by Cat Valente. It's very loosely based on the Arabian Nights, the framing device is a girl in a pseudo-Middle Eastern country telling stories to a prince. The stories are tattooed on her face, so she reads them by looking in mirrors. Valente is one of those fantasy/sci-fi writers who never uses one adjective when ten will do instead, and has great ideas but executes them poorly (like Palimpsest, a book about a weird magical city where people travel in their dreams and enter by having sex with someone who has a map of the city tattooed on them, which sounds great on paper until you actually read it). However, she got an editor for The Orphan's Tales and it showed.

bgmnts

Quote from: dontpaintyourteeth on July 04, 2022, 10:06:52 PMStarted the audiobook version of Alan Moore's Jerusalem. First chapter was 1hr 45mins.

It's fuuuucking long. Think i've done about 20 hours of it now. All I remember is there is a junkie prostitute, an artist, a man who sees a stained glass window come to life and a black guy who cycles down the street. Long long time since I listened to it but it's too big for my peanut brain.

Quote from: bgmnts on July 07, 2022, 12:59:44 PMIt's fuuuucking long. Think i've done about 20 hours of it now. All I remember is there is a junkie prostitute, an artist, a man who sees a stained glass window come to life and a black guy who cycles down the street. Long long time since I listened to it but it's too big for my peanut brain.

It's... yeah. Maximalist. I suspect it'll be too much for me as well considering I'm already a bit lost and I've still got like two days/1000 pages or so left. I thought Voice of the Fire was magnificent once I got my head around the opening chapter though so I'm sticking with it.

Kankurette

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about the Nigerian Civil War. Both her grandfathers died in it. I know shit all about Nigerian history so it's an interesting read, if harrowing (like the scene where
Spoiler alert
Olanna, one of the POV characters, is on a train and she sees an Igbo mother carrying a giant calabash...with her daughter's severed head in it
[close]
).

Poobum

Half of a Yellow Sun got me learning about the Biafran war and how complicit the UK government were with the Hausa emirate in crushing it, as long as "we" got the oil. Her short story collection That Thing Around Your Neck is quite good too. I have to get back to reading more of her books.