Saturday, 1 January 2011

Books and Stuff

Well. I'm still plodding through Chekhov's short stories (currently The New Villa) but, meanwhile, I have re-visited Terry Pratchett's first two Discworld books The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Interesting to note that he uses less 'magic' in the later books; or rather the weird stuff is not explained so explicitly as magic - it's just weird stuff and his readership know what's what anyway.
Another couple of volumes of Spike Milligan's memoirs. I'm up to where the War is over and he's been demobbed. I'm not sure if I quite believe everything he says, particularly in the detailed way he reports it. But I guess that's autobiographies for you - not necessarily made up but embellished with a bit of poetic licence. Having said that, he is honest in acknowledging where his former comrades' recollections are different.
A Judge Dredd graphic novel entitled 'The Pit' which describes the problems inherent in having a public housing policy which employs 'sink estates' to deal with problem families. It also looks at the inevitability of corruption within the justice system.
The London Review of Books. My sister-in-law nominated me for a free 12-month subscription for this learned and erudite journal. It is not necessary to have read, or even intend to read, the books under consideration as the reviews are lengthy and are more like essays so you know what's going on and, assuming you trust the reviewer, therefore, Bob's yer Uncle. There are also free-standing articles on this and that. Requires concentration though.
Next up is 'The Adventures of Mr Thake' by Beachcomber (J B Morton). Should be a laugh. BBC Radio 4 have been broadcasting some of this book in their afternoon reading slot. It's interesting to note that Beachcomber's writings were originally published in The Daily Express, back when it was more like a newspaper. That kind of thing doesn't happen these days. Now it's all celebrities, gossip and back-biting and just plain lies that editors seem to think we find entertaining.
Meanwhile, El Presidente has gone all classic A Level on us and is reading 'Mary Barton' by Elizabeth Gaskell. Recommended, but a bit of a task to read so if you'd rather listen to it being read (for example, whilst doing the ironing or darning socks) go to Librivox for a free download. Sheds light on 19th Century industrialised Britain, The Chartists and Trade Unions so it counts as social history as well as literature which is probably why it is on the A Level syllabus, like.

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