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Everything posted by Grammath

  1. National Express - The Divine Comedy
  2. A Rage in Harlem - Chester Himes
  3. Peter Sallis, aged 96. The voice of Wallace to me, although I am sure for others it will be all about Last of the Summer Wine.
  4. I watched Mad Men when it was on BBC4 but was forced to stop when Sky snapped it up. We are trialling Netflix in our new house and Mad Men is among the grown up viewing. Unfortunately, Edgar has just been introduced to Power Rangers via Netflix, so the two of us are even less likely to get regular access to the TV than we were before...
  5. The News Where You Are - Catherine O'Flynn
  6. Patio Song - Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
  7. I've recently read this, and can only conclude that Slade House exists because, even given the eclectic structure of most of David Mitchell's novels, he couldn't find a way to shoehorn the conceit behind the novel into The Bone Clocks. Either that, or he enjoyed writing about it so much he decided to have a standalone section. The disappointment for me with this book was in the repetition; Mitchell has shown with previous works how he can stitch together wildly differing voices and styles into a coherent whole. Here, the first four sections of the novel are essentially retreads of the same story at 9 year intervals, and the voices were, by Mitchell's standards, remarkably similar to one another and echo voices he's used before. The final part introduces a major character from The Bone Clocks (who has, in turn, appeared elsewhere in Mitchell's canon) which provides the link into that novel and its world. I reckon even Mitchell himself would say Slade House was a pretty slight work, it has all the hallmarks of a successful author letting his hair down and having a bit of fun. Mitchell fans like myself will find much to enjoy, those not so familiar with his work would be well advised to start elsewhere, I'd say with Ghostwritten or The Bone Clocks itself.
  8. Seem to be many ups and downs in people's lives of late. It'll be a month tomorrow since we moved down to the south coast. The house, which we bought off one of those people who buy wrecks, do them up and sell them on, needs no work to speak of (although none of the doors seem to fit their frames well, if at all), which is just as well given my virtually nonexistent DIY skills. Lady L is the man of the house in that respect. So it has mostly been about furniture so far - a bed for Edgar, one of the two sofas and an easy chair, side tables, mirrors, pictures, TV stand, that sort of thing. Chest of drawers frustratingly delayed until July. Still to find: wardrobes and a shed. Other big news for me is that, within a week of returning to work following the move I quit my job. Nothing to do with the lengthy commute, I just came to dislike the job and the majority of the people I worked with so much that when Lady L pointed out to me that the probation period was as much a chance for me to assess them as for them to assess me, that at the end of it I decided the best course of action would be to quit, so I am officially unemployed. There didn't seem to be much point in spending a lot of money to travel a long way to a job I had grown to detest in a short period of time. As the house move was a downsize and away from London, we are in a better position financially than we have been for some time so we can cope with what will hopefully be a short period without work. I would be prepared to start travelling to London again for the right job, which this one patently wasn't. I have chalked it up to experience, decided I made a mistake and have moved on.
  9. I've asked to join the reading group at the Central Library here and am due to attend my first meeting this coming Thursday. We will be discussing Sarah Waters' excellent The Paying Guests, which I read a couple of years ago, so rather than rereading that I have started on May's choice, which couldn't be more different, Dan Simmons' Hyperion. A sci-fi novel which makes allusions to Keats and Chaucer. I wasn't initially impressed but am now about 100 pages into it and am slowly warming to it. Also finished A Feast for Crows, the fourth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, so straight onto A Dance with Dragons. I have to agree with others who have read the A Game of Thrones novels and say A Feast for Crows was the weakest so far, and quite plodding in places apart from the increasingly bonkers Cersei chapters. A Dance with Dragons is much more like it so far, but that I believe is chiefly due to to the return to the forefront of the story of Tyrion and Jon, two of my favourite characters. Have also recently read David Mitchell's Slade House, which sort of forms a postscript to the marvellous The Bone Clocks. Not destined to be his most memorable work, it is pretty slight and less inventive than much of his work, but fans like myself will find much to love here. Really though, too much fantasy and sci-fi of late and I need to get my teeth into something a little different next, I'd say...
  10. Since I still don't feel up to anything too mentally taxing thanks to ongoing illness, I've decided it is time to tackle some YA literature. As I've been reading the original James Bond novels, I thought it would be interesting to see what Charlie Higson has done to create the world of the teenaged Bond, so I've started the first book of the five he wrote, called Silverfin. Officially sanctioned by Fleming's estate apparently.
  11. I must have responded with my thoughts on this little gem of a book when I read it however many years ago, but if I did they are long since lost... I've loved everything I've read by him (although that does not include some of his less critically well received books, in fairness, such as the short story collection The Apple) and this ranks alongside his masterwork The Crimson Petal and the White. The impressive thing about the 4 books I've read is how different they all were from one another and yet still all such a high quality. As it must be 10 years since I read this novel, my memory of it has inevitably diminished, but I recall this has the elegance and ambiguity of some of Ian McEwan's work. I would also recommend Vikram Seth's An Equal Music as another fine recommendation of life as a classical musician and the effects it can have on relationships. Five star read, thoroughly recommended.
  12. We've moved out of London to Brighton, but I'm still working in the centre of the capital. The commute is the one big downside of our decision, as it looks like it will be about 2 hours each way every day. I'm hopefully going to get a lot more reading done . Although I get to lose out on this the financial benefits (our mortgage has shrunk significantly) and the quality of life improvement for the rest of the family - 10 minutes walk from great shops and the beach, lots of local home education activity - for me make the sacrifice worthwhile. I have colleagues travelling similar distances who say you need to live for the weekend, which I plan to do too. Anyway, off to catch the train...
  13. On the verge of knocking off work for a week. Sadly, no rest for the wicked (and there are times when I think I must have been especially evil at some point...) as I'm not off for a rest but to move house! The removal men are due to arrive on Friday and we are running short of boxes. Edgar is helping out by unpacking a lot of his toys. Nearly all the furniture we don't want has gone to good homes, although we have a glass fronted book case with a big crack in the top we'd rather not keep but I'm not sure what to do with... Anyway, unlikely to be around much for the next few days. See you on the other side!
  14. Interesting. I'm the same as Hazel and Binker - I thought Bel Canto was wonderful, but have not picked up a Patchett novel since, although State of Wonder is on the virtual shelves. I might add this too based on that intriguing review.
  15. My attention has been distracted from my ongoing reading of the Game of Thrones sequence by my acquisition of Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD by music journalist Martin Aston. 4AD is a record label responsible for releasing records by some of my all time favourite bands, including Cocteau Twins and Pixies. It still exists, but its founder, the reclusive Ivo Watts-Russell, has long since ceased to be involved, but has granted Aston an extensive interview, as have figures such as Cocteaus' guitarist Robin Guthrie. It's the kind of indie/alternative music nerdery that appeals to a niche market, of which I'm very much part. Back in the day if a band signed to 4AD I'd instantly want to investigate. The label had in house designers and paid enormous attention to packaging as well as the actual music, making the records themselves desirable objects to own.
  16. I'm a huge fan of the Saunders short stories I've read but was concerned about his ability to sustain over a full length novel, as some of his writing is quite, um, out there. Very pleased to hear this is not the case and looking forward to this book.
  17. is reading A Feast for Crows by George R R Martin and Under the Dome by Stephen King

  18. Feeling your pain, Meg. You may recall Edgar went back into hospital for 3 days when he was just 4 days old with suspected sepsis following significant weight loss. He was on an IV drip while he was in too. The day he was admitted was one of the most hideous of my life. It is hard to believe looking at the robust 3 year old running around our house now that he was ever that weak. I sincerely hope it will be the same with your grandbaby too.
  19. Not the case here. No service on either of the overground train lines that head out to my corner of north London tonight. The joys of commuting, just as well I have an extremely large book with me. Hopefully I will have enough personal space to be able to open it...
  20. What a shame, we were wondering earlier today if the next storm to come our way might be called Edgar, and he got quite excited by the prospect...
  21. Congratulations! The joys of corporate hospitality (now I'm in the charity sector, sadly no longer available...) mean a few years ago I was able to attend Ladies' Semi Finals day at Wimbledon as the guest of a well known Australian wine brand, who were the "official wine of the Championships" that year, because that's exactly what a tennis tournament needs. A great day out, admittedly oiled by some of their fine product. I've also been to Queens, courtesy of a champagne house who were sponsoring the event. I saw Andy practising that day, but not in match action. I'm not a total freeloader, though, and have put my hand in my pocket to pay to see tennis. I did once done the queuing thing at Wimbledon one year on the middle Saturday. I managed to secure a seat on Number One court and saw Steffi Graf play, which gives you some idea how long ago it was...
  22. Same here, although I have had a cull of Mount TBR in recent months and am trying to be really disciplined about adding replacements for the books that have gone. I've surprised myself by largely succeeding as well...
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