Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Books we read in March

We’ve read :

‘A Kentish Lad’
by Frank Muir, published by Penguin 1997

Kentish Lad2

You’ll need to be of a certain age to remember Frank Muir. I first remember him in a BBC radio comedy programme called ‘Take It From Here’, which ran from 1948 to 1960. I listened to the series with my parents, sitting round the solid fuel stove in the ‘living room’ and too young to understand the humour. I soon grew into it and, later, watched out for his name in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The autobiography is a pleasant and easy read – not dramatic – but a chance for him to tell many funny stories and recount his experience of many fascinating people.

If you watched British TV comedy in the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s, Frank Muir probably had a hand in your favourite programmes and this book will bring back fond memories.

Pat read it. Alan dipped in and out.

‘Monster Island’
by David Wellington, published by Snowbooks Ltd. 2007

Monster Island

This book was passed on to me by Tariq, a zombie mad grandson in a book swap for some Sci-fi.  To be honest, it is what we used to call pulp fiction, but, hey!, I gobbled up pulp fiction Sci-fi when I was his age and look how nice I turned out.

It is simply written, with the classic premise of zombies taking over the world and is set in New York. It rolls along very nicely, telling the story from two view points, and has some unlikely heroes in a group of girl warriors crossing the world from Somalia. Just over half way my ‘willing suspense of disbelief’ wasn’t quite strong enough to carry me through, but I was sufficiently interested to see how it ended that I did finish it.

There are 2 sequels - ‘Monster Nation’, which is really a prequel, and ‘Monster Planet’.  I will read them at some point as a bit of ‘light’ relief – but not at bedtime.

Pat read it.

‘Writing in an Age of Silence’
by Sarah Paretsky, published by Verso, 2007

writing in an age of silence

Sarah Paretsky is the creator of the doyen of feisty, independent female private eyes – V.I. Warshawski.  I knew nothing about Paretsky till I read this series of essays, though it is obvious from her novels that she is familiar with the poorer districts of Chicago and that she writes a real page turner – every time.

I learned that she grew up in Kansas in a town obsessed with the threat of Communism (this was the McCarthy era) and more than a little racist.  She went to Chicago to do community work and witnessed and was involved in the Civil Rights Movement when Martin Luther King was in the city.

This is by no means a fun book, in fact is it bleak in places as she shares her journey in politics and social justice but she writes with such dazzling clarity that it is not easy to put down. In fact, I read it in one sitting.

V.I. Warshawski, Kinsey Millhone, Kay Scarpetta and many other feisty heroines have changed the face of crime fiction forever. It’s nice to know that Paretski walked the walk as well as talking the talk.

Reading this book sent me off to her website and I discovered that I’ve missed some of her releases.  I will be rectifying that soon.

Pat read it.

‘Demelza’ and ‘Jeremy Poldark’
by Winston Graham, published by Pan

Demelza Jeremy

Ross Poldark’s woes continue. Demelza’s start. Alan read both of these.

9395_jpg_280x450_q85 Alan also read Churchill’s Wizards which was mentioned in February.

0671578642 Pat re-read The Honor of the Queen, the second in the Honorverse by David Weber. The series was outlined in February.

And finally NOT read was ‘Top 40 Bad books’ by the American Book Review .

I haven’t read their reviews because they want to charge me $35 for the privilege (only $24 if you are not ‘foreign’).

Quite frankly, from what the Guardian has to say about the reviews, they sound pompous and egotistical. I don’t necessarily revere ‘Great Literature’ just because I’m supposed to, but really – to say that ‘Women in Love reads "like someone put a gun to Nietzsche's head and made him write a Harlequin romance" is a bit much. Could the reviewer do better him or her self?

I’m inclined to agree with Alison Flood of The Guardian that “This is all a bit say-something-controversial-for-the-hell-of-it for my taste.”

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