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A little light reading
As a result of listening to Professor Jim Al-Khaliliís Desert Island Discs recently, Iíve now got some new books on my library reservations list:
Other scientific stuff...
Obviously a book with a wider appeal, but by getting my request in before publication day I went to Number Six - and theyíve ordered eight copies.
Iím an unashamed crime fiction addict, though I do occasionally read more serious stuff - Iím a particular fan of Sebastian Faulks and Iain McEwan.
Iíve just (19 March 2010) finished a systematic read through Ian Rankinís excellent Inspector Rebus series, managing to pick the books up in order of publication from my local library. Exit Music (2007) was a real tease, because the author had discussed how to unburden himself of the Inspector in the introduction to one of the paperback reissues, including the possibility of killing him off. Heaven knows, the manís lifestyle offered plenty of options, as did the many people with good reason to bear him grudges. Given that the book has been out for three years, I donít think I need to keep a secret, and Iím a bit doubtful about Rankin leaving both Rebus and his long-term adversary íBig Gerí Cafferty alive: just maybe heís left himself the option of bringing this complex relationship to a conclusion... (I enjoyed the first TV Rebus series with John Hannah, but in the later one the excellent Ken Stott really has made the character his own, and it is his face and mannerisms I see when reading the stories.)
16 April 2010 While shopping for garden stuff, I found Rankinís short-story collection A good hanging on a three-for-a-fiver offer in the remaindered-books shop that lurks in our local garden centre. It turned out to be all Rebus, so I bought it.
James Lee Burke and Patricia Cornwell (before she dabbled unfunnily with comedy and then started writing the later Scarpetta books in the third person and the present tense) have been long-term favourites whose books I have kept to re-read in my so-far very busy retirement. Dennis Lehane is good, and Richard North Pattersonís political/legal thrillers are quite brilliant. Michael Connellyís Harry Bosch series is great.
12 August 2010 Iím currently reading Christopher Brookmyre and Colin Bateman (or just íBatemaní as his more recent stuff is pretentiously by-lined). The latter writes good, amusing, Belfast-based or -linked thrillers, including Murphyís Law, which spawned the excellent TV series with James Nesbitt. The former is on a different level, though; a Glasgow man whose books are funny, political and very very clever. Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks was an excellent read, the rubber ducks in question being people who go on believing ridiculous things no matter how compelling the evidence against them - the book in question is about fraudulent spiritualist mediums and the poor gullible souls who take them seriously. I have been ordering a steady stream of his books from the library, and wonít be satisfied until Iíve read his entire output. Please Google him - or go to http://www.brookmyre.co.uk/.
16 November 2010 I finished Brookmyreís latest novel, Pandaemonium, this week, having managed to get all but one through the Notts library service - though not, sadly, in order of publication. Theyíve been a mixed bag - all highly entertaining and most pretty gripping. For some reason, in some of the later books, Brookmyre has adopted the present tense. Iíve never seen the point of this, the past tense having served novelists perfectly well for a few hundred years. The tense-change marked the decline of Patricia Cornwell. I think the idea is to make the story more cinematic, but it doesnít seem to add anything in any of the books written in this mode that Iíve read. More seriously, it creates difficulties with events in the past - the ones usually dealt with by íX had done so-and-soí. Brookmyre, I felt, came unstuck rather badly in this respect, still using íhadí for events previous to the narrativeís present. There are other instances of sloppiness in his writing, which suggest that he rushes his novels to their conclusions. In the case of Pandaemonium, I think he suffered from what has marred a number of recent TV dramas - the problem of painting himself into a corner: the end seemed rushed, leaving many questions unanswered. However, I will await his future books eagerly. To complete the set, Iíve just ordered the missing one, Not the End of the World, from an Ebay trader for £2.72 including postage...
For a number of reasons, I have asked Father Christmas for an Amazon Kindle E-book reader this year. Iíve been playing with the freebie, Kindle for PC, and the idea of having a small, light, dedicated computer to carry around, onto which I can download up to 3,500 books - of out-of-copyright classics for free and a fast-growing supply of in-copyright books at far lower prices than their paper counterparts - is highly attractive (goodbye to the dozen or so books I usually cram into the car-boot when going on holiday). The Kindle is pretty cheap - about £100 for the basic version that uses only Wi-Fi to download books and 50% more for the one that can also connect over mobile-phone networks. The screen is said to offer a close-to-paper experience - a non-illuminated white background on which sharp black text appears - which puts it way ahead of the iPad as far as Iím concerned. As my vision is becoming more and more problematic, the ability to increase the font size is very attractive. The PC version also has the options of a sepia colour-scheme and reversal to white text on a black background, but there?s no mention of these features in the specification of the real Kindle. If Santa comes across, Iíll have more to say about this in January...
Personal site for Paul Marsden: frustrated writer; experimental cook and all-round foodie; amateur wine-importer; former copywriter and press-officer; former teacher, teacher-trainer, educational software developer and documenter; still a professional web-developer but mostly retired.
This site was transferred in June 2005 to the Sites4Doctors Site Management System, and has been developed and maintained there ever since.