Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Holiday Reading

Here is a my annual service for those for whom the words 'activity' and 'holiday' belong not on the same sun-lounger. Scores represent the holiday escapism factor and nothing necessarily to do with literary merit. Slightly light list this year due to presence of other members of the family week one and football week two.

Lee Child - Trip Wire (6/10)
It all began back on June 7th and finishing the last 100 pages of a Jack Reacher thriller whilst waiting for a plane. Given there are several more books in the series beyond this one you will deduce that our hero wins again. Not without being shot in the chest though. Not easy this lone-wolf crime-fighting stuff.

John Le Carré - A Legacy of Spies (5/10)
The usual slow-paced, developing narrative as a former intelligence officer is invited back for a chat about an operation many years ago that may have been a bit more, or possibly less, than described at the time. Someone in government has the papers and wants to see heads roll. A spy's career is never behind them. Just a bit too slow for me and the end didn't satisfy. But if you've read le Carré you'll know what to expect.

Michael J. Malone - House of Spines (7/10)
Spine-tingling ain't really my bag (must read a Stephen King some day) but this caught my eye as a cross-dressing narrative. Starts with 'guy inherits possibly haunted house' premise but does some wonderful things with the idea. The 'spines' of the title are the book jackets of the house's library. The super-natural is a girl who likes listening to stories. Then there are some people who think the inheritance is flawed. Nicely done.

Jon McGregor - Reservoir 13 (9/10)
I do seem to have filled my bag with slow-paced narratives this trip. But if you need to take your time on a journey then McGregor is great company. Never a word out of place and an ability to describe things we don't normally see - the spaces between people, the seasons changing in the background, the relentless cycle of village life. A girl goes missing. Time passes slowly. I note the Broadchurchy subtext that your sins will find you out. An investigation into a big crime often uncovers some smaller ones along the way.

Lisa McInerney - The Glorious Heresies (7/10)
What a yarn. Felt like I was discovering the missing connections between Father Ted, East Enders and Breaking Bad. Great characters. Mainly perfectly horrid so who do you root for?

Daniel Kehlmann - F (A Novel) (7/10)
Translated from German this story explores Arthur who has a life-changing experience after reluctantly going on stage for a hypnotist. We mainly see the world through his sons who grow up to be an art-forger, a dodgy financier and a fat unconvincing priest.

Fate, forger, fiddler and faithless. Whose fault is it all? And which is the 'F' of the title?

After this I started Jim Crace's Arcardia, which I know will be good because it 's Jim Crace. In between I read chapters from Tim Harford's Messy but haven't finished yet. However I know now why Le Corbusier's innovative clean architecture wasn't popular with the workers it was built for and why they put gnomes in their gardens. Also, why CPAS's clean-desk policy was a knife in the side of creativity. More on this later.

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