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Showing posts from June, 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,…

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Yah, yah, I know, I’ve been lollygaggin’ and work-shyin’ and leaving all my lovely spammers in Tamil Nadu with nothing on which to post spam but old reviews. I’ve not even been all that busy, except when it comes to slapping on weight and destroying some neural connections, both of which I’ve done with glazed-eyed indifference and robotic monotony. Still, I feel I owe it to GDR to at least put Shantaram to bed before I buy (whoops, sorry, already done) and read his next book, The Mountain Shadow, which even now is winging its way to my door by the magic of Amazon Prime Same Day DeliveryTM.
It turns out that GDR was indeed a bit of a knob. He robbed building societies in Australia, always dressed in a three-piece suit and minding his Ps & Qs, and only targeting those with adequate insurance. How he knew which did and didn’t have adequate insurance is not mentioned. On the back of this, or maybe it was the other way around, his wife kicked him out and he lost contact with his only da…

Horse Destroys The Universe by Cyriak Harris

So, I hear you ask, what the utter fuck? To be honest, I pledged to the crowd-funding of this book purely on the premise that a horse could destroy the universe, which essentially, and spoiler-free (it’s in the chuffing title after all) it does. After that, this entire review is based on the research I did this morning between sitting at my desk and actually starting the work I’m paid to do (around 60-80 minutes all told).
First off, Morgan Cyriak Harris is an animator who enjoys the surreal effects of the formal Western Art Tradition technique of mis en abyme, or in other words, the deliberate placing within an image of a copy of the same image and the subsequent implication of infinitely represented worlds – think two mirrors reflecting each other. In literary terms this could be the self-reflexive embedding of the story within the story, something of which I am inordinately fond. In Harris’s work this tends to be an animated grotesquery of self-spawned fauna fountaining from mouths …

Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

In June I moved house again, from the dizzy heights of Penarth to the, er, misty heights of Taff’s Well and into my own home for the first time in a while. During this upheaval there was nogreat purge, but there was a brief hiatus once again whilst the majority of my library collection disappeared into tens of large boxes, only to reappear very recently, a bit worse the wear for the regular buffeting between rooms being decorated and, by the looks of the fist-shaped holes in some of them, a bit of youthful pugilism delivered by three young boys with nothing better to do than punch the daylights out of some defenceless cardboard.

So, I was forced to read some of the more recently acquired books which were yet to be added to the “Yet to be Read” shelves at the end of my run of bookcases and were instead picking up grey fluff on the floating shelf in my bedroom. Among them were the collected short stories of Angela Carter, the works of Michel de Montaigne, Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Th…