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Showing posts from December, 2013

Books of Note

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Not surprisingly, like a lot of John Darnielle’s music, particularly those songs on the album The Sunset Tree (Pale Green Things springs to mind and is very much worth listening to), his writing only slowly reveals itself and its narrative direction. Not in any turgid or tedious fashion, but rather in an unhurried, gentler and more thoughtful way. Universal Harvester rolls gently along its path with only a few disconcerting and probably deliberate hiccups. It starts in Iowa in the 1990s with a young man, still living at home with his father but unable to leave because of the weight of his mother’s death, years before, in a car crash. The trauma tethers Jeremy and his father together like the gravitational pull of a dead star in a comfortable and predictable but numb orbit, but it’s never something that either of them can discuss openly.
Jeremy works at a VHS rental store, so we’re assuredly early-Worldwide Web era. His job is simple, repetitive, and keeps him and his father in entertai…

Mindfulness - A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman

A book on mindfulness - now, this is a departure for me. I wasn't planning on reviewing this for a number of reasons, including but not exclusively because I've not finished the course of meditation it prescribes. I wasn't really planning on reading it either, but I did, also for reasons which I am not going to relate. Good stuff so far, eh?

For a few years my wife has been gently suggesting that I try meditative activities to temper my tendency towards displays of extremes of emotion. I have resisted thus far because the one time I did concede ground and attended a Buddhist centre to take part in a guided meditation session, when asked how it was afterwards by a kind and gentle soul, I told him it filled me with a rage so profound that I felt I should go and stand outside so as not to hurt anyone. I did also read a book by Karen Armstrong on compassion, which had a 12-step process (instant recoil) towards a more compassionate life. I was greatly tickled and, one might say,…

Freaks by Nik Perring and Caroline Smailes

This is not likely to be a useful or interesting review.
Sorry, that was a brutal beginning, so brutal in fact that I didn’t manage to get a customary disclaimer in first. It was total brutal.

Where was I? Oh yes, being boring and unhelpful. Well, it all stems from the fact that I read Freaks because it was free for Kindle and someone or other keeps talking about Caroline Smailes in such glowing terms that it’s hard to ignore. Also, DarrenCraske has been suitably up-bigged by Scott Pack of The Friday Project, via blogs, social media and give-aways that his formerly nose-turned-up-at works have inveigled their way into what I almost casually term my throw-away collection. It was inevitable in that respect I suppose. 
I don't know who Nik Perring is.
However, it was read over a particularly stressful Christmas period, and in snatches lasting only a few moments (not normally an issue for this book I suspect as it is basically X number of very tiny short stories, of the oft-labelled micr…