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Everything posted by Keenomanjaro

  1. This book follows a South African student from Cape Town who dreams of moving to Europe and becoming a poet. He obsesses with the idea of living life to its full intensity, so that these experiences can then be translated into his art. Having saved enough money to leave a homeland on the verge of a race-war, he moves to London to follow in the footsteps of some of his favourite poets, but rather than finding inspiration he instead ends up becoming an outsider, unable to communicate with those around him and stuck in a monotonous job. Frustrations mount as he is unable to sustain a relationship as the women he meets fail to notice the 'fire inside' him. Ultimately, he continually falls short in terms of his lifestyle, writing and relationships. I think the book is partly auto-biographical, in which case, Coetzee has given a frank and sometimes brutal, assessment of his younger self. I'm sure plenty of people will recognise the conflict between youthful idealism and the reality of the daily grind, and I suppose the book's greatest strength is the way the main character's hopes and dreams are gradually crushed until the ideals have been replaced with something akin to an acceptance of mediocrity.
  2. I'm not much of a sci-fi fan, but I thought I'd give this a go, given its reputation and subsequent influence on the genre. Although the book is short and the plot fairly basic by today's standards, it's clear to see why the story created such a stir when it was first published. For all of the talk of Wells' ability to see into the future (having predicted space travel and the use of chemical weapons), it is the feeling of an utterly helpless human race which grabbed me and made me want to keep reading. This exposure of human frailty must have come as quite a shock to a nation used to wallowing in the comfort and safety of the dominant British Empire of the time and it's hard not to see the novel as something of a critique of British imperialism. Sadly the ending felt a little rushed and a fairly interesting sub-plot involving the narrator's brother never seemed to be fully resolved. Still, it's worth a look as a good period piece, but don't expect great thrills if you're used to reading modern sci-fi, which has evolved almost beyond recognition from these humble beginnings.
  3. Ellis' first novel follows a group of rich Californian teenagers, neglected by their parents (Hollywood stars and producers, rich lawyers) and left to their own devices over the Christmas period. Whilst there is no specific plot, the story focuses on the exploits of the narrator (Clay) who moves from one party to another trying to search for the 'worst possible thing'. Clay's nihilism has deadened him (and his friends) to all but the most shocking things he encounters and Ellis conveys the sense that in spite of all their money, these kids have no idea what they want from life and have no real desire or means of expressing themselves. Ellis develops some of these themes further in 'Rules of Attraction' and some of the characters in this book seem like they could have been younger versions of Patrick Bateman from 'American Psycho'. This is a pretty good introduction to Ellis' work and gives you an idea of his distintive writing style.
  4. I have no idea what possessed me to read a book about a group of teenage Scottish girls on a day trip with their Catholic School to sing in a school choir contest, but I am grateful for whatever it was that inspired me to pick it up, as I thoroughly enjoyed it and quickly became wrapped up in the lives of the five or six girls the story focuses on. Particularly memorable was the mammoth drinking session undertaken by Fionnula and Kay, the girls' various attempts to get into the local nightclub and the coach scenes mentioned by Adrian. It did stretch the bounds of plausibility given that so much happened in the course of one day (not least the change in relationship between Fionnula and Kay), but no matter as this was a fantastic bit of character driven writing based on a foundation of snappy dialogue reminiscent of Roddy Doyle's 'Barrytown' stories.
  5. I read this recently, having finished 'Screen Burn' earlier in the year. As a fan of Brooker's TV programmes, I knew I'd enjoy these books and they didn't let me down. His scathing, misanthropic rants probably won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if, like me, you've all but given up with television as a means of entertainment, there will be plenty that stikes a chord. Has anyone seen his new Channel 4 panel show 'You Have Been Watching'? I saw the first few and thought they were pretty good, but I can't help wonder what Brooker would have made of such a programme had someone else fronted it.
  6. Having previously read 'Garp', which I found a little frustrating and 'A Prayer for Owen Meany', which I thought was fantastic, I decided to try 'The Hotel New Hampshire' with a view to maybe further exploring Irving's other novels if I enjoyed it sufficiently. The comparisons with Garp are quite startling I found, although I appreciate that some of the themes and locations Irving uses in both these books, appear in many of his other works too. Thankfully, I found the story was much more coherent than in Garp, and the characters were well drawn and generally pretty likeable (a glimpse of the fine characterisation that would grace 'Owen Meany'). The book is divided into roughly three acts, each based around a different 'Hotel New Hampshire'. The first act was by far the most entertaining, especially the story of the parents' courtship and aquisition of the bear called State O' Maine. Once the family moved to Vienna things slowed down a little (as they did at the same stage in Garp) and only the dramatic scenes at the end of their stay livened this section up. Again, parrallels are apparent between the end of this section and the end of 'Owen Meany'. The final third takes place back in America and is essentially a long-winded tying up of loose ends; the plot having peaked at the end of the second act. I did enjoy the book on the whole, mainly due to the characters that populate its pages, but have been somewhat put of by the very strong links to the two other books I've read and I'm a little reluctant try other Irving novels lest it feels like I'm retreading old ground again.
  7. I'm going to guess 'Stalingrad' by Anthony Beevor
  8. Great idea for a thread. Funnily enough, I would have recommended both Frank Turner and Clutch, had they not already been mentioned. Instead I will suggest a couple of Brooklyn based bands that I've been enjoying on Spotify recently. Try: Stay Positive by The Hold Steady (alt rock/ post punk) or Still Night, Still Light by Au Revoir Simone (Synth based indie/pop) Keep the recommendations coming guys.
  9. Bit of a shot in the dark, but is no. 8 Lady Gaga?
  10. The extra clue has helped me with number 12, which I think must be Cormac McCarthy.
  11. Is number 4 'The Rook Thief' by Markus Zusak?
  12. Jack (or maybe Sadie, or perhaps even David) meets Anthony Hopkins in disguise.
  13. Is it 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'?
  14. Number 3. Grime and Punishment
  15. Both of your teams?? How does that work then?!! If (as your Anglo-Italian anecdote above suggests) one of your teams is Bristol Rovers, you'll have the chance to pop down to Dean Court this Saturday for the FA Cup 1st round tie. So what's on at the BIC tomorrow then? It seems to have reinvented itself as quite a hip music venue, whereas when I was growing up it was all ABBA tribute bands and David Essex concerts. Had to make the trek to Southampton to see anything half decent.
  16. As an AFC Bournemouth fan, I had the pleasure of travelling up to Luton last Tuesday in order to watch a mere 7 minutes of football/dancing on ice before the ref decided to give up on the whole fiasco. Refunds were offered to those who wanted them and our ticket stubs can be used for free entry to the rescheduled match, which was some small consolation. Apparently, in the history of English football, only two games have been abandoned in less time. I almost felt privileged!! As for the book, I think I'll probably add this to my Christmas wish list. Thanks for the heads up.
  17. I'm going to suggest that the answer is 'Psycho'. This is based almost entirely on the fact that I remember reading that the stabbing sound effects from the infamous shower scene were made by stabbing a melon with a knife. The movie was remade about 10 years ago, which fits in with David's comment. The second picture of the grave could be in reference to those murdered during the course of the movie, or to Norman Bates' mother, who's corpse was found towards the end of the film. The first picture might be a reference to the film being originally shot in black and white, but remade in colour (I'm struggling now!!) The third picture has thrown me, but I'm hoping someone else can help me out with it.
  18. Is number 6 'The Big Sleep'? I can't remember if that was set during prohibition.
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