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Top Cat

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  1. I'm currently running a Hardest-Looking Cat competition on my blog and Facebook if anyone fancies entering (winning prize is a copy of my book Under The Paw and a box of gourmet cat food). Entries should be sent to underthepaw@tom-cox.com but there are more details here: http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com/2008/06/win-free-book-and-some-top-quality-cat.html And here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=29299339088
  2. I suppose it depends how narrowly you define humour writing. If we're talking about non-fiction where the narrative is secondary and the aim of the writing seems to primarily be to reach the funny bone, early Woody Allen, David Sedaris and James Thurber are the best in the business. Ian Frazier writes some very funny humour pieces on the Shouts And Murmurs page of The New Yorker. George Saunders (a great short story writer who has recently turned his attention to non-fiction humour writing) has a brilliant new collection of essays called The Braindead Megaphone. The ones about nostalgia and the dog who doesn't like his owner dancing naked to Prince's Purple Rain are particularly ace.
  3. Here's my piece about The Underreported Stereotype of Mad Cat Man, from yesterday's Times: http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article4066405.ece
  4. Haven't been around these parts for a while, but just thought I'd let BGO's cat loving community know that my new "catoir", Under The Paw: Confessions Of A Cat Man, is published this week: There's a bit more info about it at my cat blog: http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com And here's the amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-Paw-Confessions-Cat-Man/dp/1847371418/ref=pd_sbs_b_img_7
  5. Top Cat

    Who Has Pets?!

    Throwing sticks is about as underhand as it gets (well, it is if you discount one time I sold a spaniel to the Russian mafia, anyway). The way I've always felt about dogs is "nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there". I love them, but my experience with them has been dog ownership without the hassle: pick the dog up from your elderly neighbour, take it for a walk, get the gratitude of its owner, but let them take care of the awkward business of hosing the river water off it and getting bad smells out of their carpet. I know everyone says dogs love you unconditionally, but I think dealing with that king of sycophancy on a long-term basis would start to get to me. Cats are a challenge that prepares you for life, but with the added advantage that you don't have to pick up their excrement. That said, I had to deal with a very adhesive hairball a few minutes ago (one of my cats', not mine).
  6. Top Cat

    Who Has Pets?!

    Pretty cat-mad myself, although I sometimes like to borrow other people's dogs. Have recently started to record my cat dominated life at <a href="http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com">http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com</a> If any fellow cat nutters out there would like to be added to my list for new postings, please send me a PM.
  7. Definitely with everyone on this. I reckon Richard Russo's books are bloomin' hilarious, but I'm still not sure I've laughed out loud at one of them - even the scene with the goose in Straight Man, which is one of the funniest scenes in literature ever. I think I'm far more likely to laugh at non-fiction: some of Woody Allen's early writing has made me chuckle on trains and I remember a line in Dave Barry's first novel about a dog having "the intelligence of celery" that made me chuckle. "Funny" is a completely different thing on the page to what it is on the screen.
  8. Just got a copy of this too. Thought it looked v interesting. But did you notice that there isn't one review quoted anywhere on the jacket or opening page? I'm trying not to let this affect where I place the book in my TBR pile, but it seems almost unheard of for a book prominently placed in a Borders promotion, much less one of Richard And Judy's summer reads. You would have thought there'd at least be an '"Intriguing" - Melbourne Advertiser' somewhere on the inner jacket.
  9. Nothing wrong with that! It's definitely their underrated lo-fi classic.
  10. Glad to see so many people feel the same way as me about this: I can barely read with Radio 3 tinkling away in the background, never mind Uriah Heep's Gypsy Queen (as fun as that sounds, in theory)! I know a lot of people who think I'm weird for not being able to read with music on, but it just seems to get in the way and, much as I like music, I will always want to put books first and tend to resent anything that gets in the way of my enjoyment of them. As for writing, much as I'd like to spend all day listening to 3wk Classic Rock Underground Radio while I'm working on my new book, I have never understood that Hunter S Thompson approach of having loud rock music there to drive your creative spirit. I think I'm more in the Paul Theroux camp on the whole subject: I remember him saying that he found it impossible to read with any kind of distraction - to the extent of not even wanting to open his book when there were other people in the same room.
  11. Ha! I think history has proved that a serious obsession with Catcher In The Rye is probably not going to end in a good place. I used to have the same problem with records (which might explain why, mystifyingly, I still have three copies of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk). The problem with buying a spare paperback of Straight Man by Russo is that, unlike an original copy of The Flying Burrito Brothers' first album, it's probably never going to work as any kind of investment. Still, I'm very happy with my "I need another one since my first copy has gone a bit bloated since I dropped it in the bath" excuse (the Russo, that is - I have never dropped a record in the bath).
  12. Yes, I suppose that was the one drawback. Fortunately, quite a few of the things he recommended were already here on my TBR pile, but I've already had a splurge on Anne Tylers in my local charity shop and got a copy of Joshua Ferris' Then We Came To The End, and Hornby can be blamed for that. He also may turn out to be the person who makes me read Chekov - might wait a couple of years for that, though. The good thing about the P Spree is that it's interesting even when NH is writing about a book that you know you will never read (maybe because he's always writing about the process of reading and the hang-ups associated with it more than the book itself).
  13. This is the theme of a piece I just wrote for <a href="http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article1961967.ece">The Sunday Times</a>. I didn't mention all the bad ones I've read or tried to read over the years, and I'm sure there are people here who have enjoyed books about the rock life, but they tend to leave me cold. A couple of Sunday Times readers just recommended I try Piece of My Heart by Peter Robinson and Iain Banks' Espedair Street (not holding out much hope for the latter, as I have really hated everything I've read by Banks before). What does everyone else think?
  14. My problem at the moment is that every time I pass a bookshop I have an urge to go in and buy an Alice Munro book. It makes no sense, as I've got two of hers at home that I haven't got round to reading yet. I also keep having an urge to buy copies of Richard Russo books I already own. Re your comments about the Polysyllabic Spree, MinxMinnie: don't resist it! I just read it and enjoyed it more than anything I've read by NH before. Definitely a very BGO kind of book.
  15. Thanks for your comments! Glad you enjoyed it, Laura and Angel. Nicky Wire as the new Cliff/Daniel O'D? It's not as far fetched as some people might think. I can see the future for those Manic Street Preachers fans right now: the hot water bottle, the foot spa, the signed photo of Richey above the bed to be kissed last thing at night....
  16. Thanks for letting me know, Hazel. That's brightened up my day! I've just done a Q and A about the book with Jessica Ruston at the very fine <a href="http://visit.thebookbar.com/blog">Book Bar</a> site...
  17. <a href="http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com">Here's the latest one...</a>
  18. Yep, love em all. And, in a similar vein, those two John And Beverley Martyn albums (much better than JM's solo stuff, I reckon). If you like that kind of stuff you might also like the Bench Connection and Matt Deighton: http://www.myspace.com/thebenchconnection
  19. Totally with you there! People weren't supposed to make folk albums as good as Shoot Out The Lights in the 80s.... Think my favourite is I Want To See The Bright Lights, though.
  20. Hope nobody minds me re-starting this thread. <a href="http://www.myspace.com/lost_tribes_of_pop">Some more info about the book here.</a> <a href="http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/losttribes/0,,1033466,00.html">And an extract here.</a>
  21. I have to say that this was really a one-off for me. I don't read a lot of trash, but I'm terrible when it comes to classics - I always seem to prefer newer books these days (well, stuff from the last 4 decades, which I guess is "new" in literary terms). I actually did this experiment a while ago now and if you asked me about the intricacies of the plot, I don't think I could tell you a thing. So maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all! As for Great Expectations, I tried again with that this winter, as I did the winter before. Reached page 168, which is an improvement on last year by about 80 pages. It wasn't that I wasn't enjoying it, just that something more fun (and with a font of a less eye-stinging size) was nearby. Maybe next year...
  22. <a href="http://tomcoxblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/war-and-peace-in-24-hours-experiment.html">Anyone else ever tried anything like this?</a>
  23. I think when I'm REALLY enjoying a book I don't notice page numbers at all, but those times are incredibly rare. I'm a terrible one for checking page numbers and chapter lengths. It's a lot to do with what kind of book it is that I'm enjoying: I really enjoyed the latest Carl Hiaasen and whipped through it, but I wouldn't count it as one of my favourite books ever. On other hand, Adam Thorpe's Ulverton is probably in my all-time top three, but I seem to remember that, for most of the time I was reading it, I was doing little sums about how long it would take me to finish. I don't think this meant it wasn't engrossing, just that it was very dense. It's one of those books that's quite hard work but that really stays with you. I always think of really enjoying a book as like being in the zone whilst playing a sport: being so carried away that you completely lose track of time and your surroundings. Same with bursts of really good writing. Is it possible to force yourself into that state? <a href="http://tomcoxblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/war-and-peace-in-24-hours-experiment.html">Not sure...</a>
  24. Ooh yes, I need to sort the pictorial side of things. There's a pic of the Bear at the link below (Old Folkie from my Lost Tribes book "borrowed" him) but he is under his pseudonym, Rattlebone: http://www.myspace.com/old_folkie
  25. Is it wrong that I find that a pleasure to watch?
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