Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2019

Books of Note

Assumption by Percival Everett

I suppose, given the title, that a book by a prominent author among whose other works are novels like I Am Not Sidney Poitierand A History of the African-American People (proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett and James Kincaid, would come at a triptych of police procedurals / murder mysteries, delivered in the hard-boiled style of Dashiel Hammett or James M Cain but with a passing resemblance to John D McDonald, with a hidden agenda.
Or, perhaps, with a smug smile
It’s going to be hard to explain this without ruining the fun, but let’s have a go. We have Ogden Walker, son of a black father and a white mother (his father “hated white people, but not enough to refrain from marrying one,”), ex-army and drifting along in his fictional Plata county deputy sheriff’s job. He’s distant, remote, but polite for the most part, more interested in fly fishing than females, and in three separate but connected stories, he’s thrust into the worlds of prostitution, crooked FBI agents,…

Think Like An Anthropologist by Matthew Engelke

I got this one quite wrong. I remember picking it up in Griffin Books in Penarth as it was another example of excellent design – small, compact, blue and with a rewardingly tactile cover – and because it offered an opportunity to learn how to Think Like An Anthropologist. Of course, it doesn’t really. In that, I was a little disappointed.
In fact, once opened, it provides a neat if Eurocentric primer of some of the conceptual pillars in the study of Anthropology, citing key thinkers in the field and not sticking too closely to the usual chronological development of a ‘science’ which is only now just over 150 years old. He talks about the relative perceptions of culture, values, value (discreet ideas), and some emotive issues such as blood and civilization, the latter used so often in a pejorative sense by dog-whistle politicians and policy-makers. It was a quick and informative read, covering a lot of ground and making lots of really interesting clarifications about the discipline and…

Cinnamon Skin by John D MacDonald

If, by now, you seriously think I can remember what makes this, the 20th JD MacDonald novel different, and therefore worthy of an extended review, from the other 19 previous novels (of which I have read all), then you clearly don’t know me very well.
From a Good Reads synopsis, I recall that someone’s boat blows up, a niece is kabloo-ied, and Trav suspects foul play. Of course he’s right and so after some sex with another chickadee or punchboard or pussycat or honey he solves everything and he and Meyer can go back to some vague slobbing about and misogynistic reminiscences aboard their respective boats.
So far so formulaic.
And that’s it, basically.

Fun, fruity if a little dated, and worth reading if only for nostalgia’s sake, but at least I have only a few more to go now before I can consign this series to the dusty shelves of the unduly forgotten.