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The In-Betweeners


"Golden Bollocks" talks
football and tragedy
Not everything I read makes it onto the pages of this blog. Indeed, of some books it pains me to say I may well be slightly embarrassed to admit having read them, being slightly superior and a somewhat jaded critic of the popular milieu. However, what sort of chronicler of intertextual flow would I be if I were to omit those texts that fill the void between the titles carefully chosen by me to illustrate what an esoteric and highly educated reader I am?

Therefore, I've chosen to humble myself by exposing those little items of brain candy that I occassionally treat myself to, behind closed doors of course. Those shavings of Occam's Razor I call, The In-Betweeners.

For those of you who don't want to know the scores, look away now. Equally, for those who don't give a monkeys about football, you may avert your gaze for a paragraph.
Kenny Dalglish snuck in between Portis and Hunt by virtue of the fact that if I hadn't read it now, it would have become one of those irritating books, written by the living about a period of time yet to have ended, that is out-of-date before I got around to reading it. Indeed, I suspect the paperback edition is going to have a whole lot of guff about contract negotiations and summer transfer targets missed and hit and likely other such nonsense as to render the book more unreadable than Dalglish's swaying narrative has already done. Nonetheless, for a footballer's biography, it's not as bad as, say, Ashley Cole's or, God forbid, Rio Ferdinand's. And, as a collector of rather tawdry Liverpool biographies, it would have been a betrayal of the club and the ethos to have not bought and read this. Okay, you can come back now.
More Travis McGee (#5 I think)
from master MacDonald

Travis McGee is John D MacDonald's knight-errant. A sun-browned boat bum, living on the proceeds of his sporadic employment aboard the Busted Flush, a boat won during a poker game and moored permanently in the Florida Keys, McGee takes "jobs" when his funds run low, or in this case, when his friends get themselves killed. He takes 50% of that recovered and lives for another summer in idleness and forgetting. Lots of great dialogue, some rather wobbly but noble eviceration of the soul, and action all over the shop characterise the series (21 volumes no less) and all thrills are delivered without graphic sex scenes (all done with suggestion - and there's lots of suggestion) or resorting to the shock of foul language. MacDonald is a champ of pulp fiction, and rumour has it that Oliver Stone and portly Leo Di are working on a big screen portrayal! Fame at last.

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How's about that then?

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Argh, Neil Gaiman blah blah, waffle waffle, and so on.
There, that’s out of the way.
I can’t help but equate the resurgence in popularity of the Norse mythos, Icelandic sagas, and Skaldic and Eddic poetry in all their new televisual, literal and figurative forms, to the similarly resurgent popularity of comic-book- and super-heroes. In fact, they’re two sides of the same interrogative coin: one asks, “How did we get here?” whereas the other asks, “Who can save us?” for the world needs heroes, and people to blame.
I will leave it up to you to project your own personal Them into the nice Them-shaped gap that leaves behind.
You may think it very necessary and timely to have brought out such a book. Alternatively, you may be suffering from hero-fatigue and see it as all a bit unnecessary. Or you may have been seduced by the big hammer on the cover and the lovely tactile matt-finish cover. In any case and in my own humble opinion, other than talk William Warder Norton into springing for a lov…

High-Rise by J.G. Ballard

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

I can hold nothing against or up to either Neil Gaiman or the late Terry Pratchett. In respect of their fans and their work, my problems are mine and mine alone. In general, both are of the highest standard. In context however, I can only judge Pratchett’s early work, such as TruckersThe Carpet People (currently reading to my four-and-nine-tenths year old who is loving it) and The Light Fantastic etc. (all of which I enjoyed as a very young teenager). Post-Carpe Jugulum I have read exactly diddly squat, and the stage plays and TV adaptations have passed me by without so much as a flicker of interest. Whereas Gaiman continues to intrigue, chipping away at my natural scepticism with his charm and wit and style and great children’s books, and I did enjoy Stardust the movie, for the most part because of Robert De Niro, and also in spite of Ricky Gervais. Of course, were they to collaborate on a novel (not De Niro and Gervais; that would be one to avoid), then I would expect the world to…

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Before you start, read this disclaimer:
Fans of Neil Gaiman beware – I don’t tolerate you very well, despite counting myself amongst you. It’s nothing personal (about you – it’s very personal to me), and I believe it’s Neil’s own fault for being such a very good writer. Please read on through the fan-bashing to the bit about the book. Thank you.

Neil Gaiman is an annoyance to me. I really (REALLY) liked American Gods but found that as soon as I mentioned this fact to anyone, I got one of two responses: nose-turned-up snobbery of the most scornful sort, or sickeningly gushing über-fanaticism, if that isn’t tautological. I don’t know which is worse. The snobs I can dismiss as most will be operating within the conceit that Gaiman is fantasy and therefore unworthy of further study or consideration – they are very unlikely to have ready anything by the author. The fans, though, start dribbling on and on about the time they met him in Bath Waterstone’s or how much better he is than the Latin …