Monday, September 24, 2007

The obligatory holiday reading post

  • Rubicon - Tom Holland. Loads of fun but made all the better after having caught the Rome repeats on UKTVGoldHistory the week before.
  • The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith. Brilliant. One of the all-time great literary characters. Gets a bit bogged down in plot but Ripley's too enjoyable to begrudge it that.
  • Guns, Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond. 400-odd pages of stating the ever-so-slightly obvious. Not nearly as good as the blurbs suggest but moderately interesting in snatches. But if I have to hear one more time about the lack of domesticable plants in New Guinea, violence will take place.
  • The Night Gardener - George Pelecanos. A revelation. Outstanding genre fiction that transcends genre with brilliantly rounded characters. No such thing as good guy/bad guy, everybody has their reasons, everybody is treated with empathy and the book is at times genuinely moving. I'll be seeking his other work.
  • Money - Martin Amis. Dazzling language and very, very funny. Still alarmingly relevant (despite the Princess Di stuff) and alarmingly close to home in places. Self has a theory on page 278 that I myself had not just a few weeks ago that may be a blog post at some point never.
  • Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky - Patrick Hamilton. Why am I reading about grimy 20's London when under the Cretan sun? Because I can never get away from the place, that's why. I particularly liked the chapter in Ella's tale when Hamilton uses the term 'wage slave' approximately 28 times. Despite that, it's funny through it's depression, it's brilliantly perceptive and has an ending more quietly devastating than almost any book I've read.
  • Eroticism - George Bataille. Cheating here because I only started it on the plane back but is pleasingly bonkers enough in it's first 50 pages to carry on.

So, 5 out of 6. Not bloody bad I reckon.


  1. Good stuff. Have you a Pelicanos in stock? Can't beat a bit of crime every so often (I'm working my way through James Ellroy's LA Quartet at the mo).

    Good shout on Patricia Highsmith. Nobody does "growing sense of doom" like her... she creates a most extraordinarily claustrophobic suspense. I find it quite uncomfortable, but it's very exciting at the same time.

    Good stuff!
    Rich (Fulham)

    PS I have Craven House (the last out of print Hamilton as far as I know) if you ever you feel the need to read that.

  2. We do indeed have some Pelecanos in stock.