2019 book reading by PGMCC - Volume IV
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Title; Author; Status; Start/end date; Number of pages
The Fox by Frederick Forsyth 01/01/2019 - 05/01/2019 301 pages
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke 11/12/2018 - 12/01/2019 230 pages
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami 13/01/2019 - 25/01/2019 681 pages
Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen 26/01/2019 - 08/02/2019 389 pages
The Gifts of Reading by Robert MacFarlane 29/01/2019 - 29/01/2019 47 pages
Birthday Girl by Harukim Murakami 30/01/2019 -30/01/2019. 41 pages
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty 09/02/2019 - 22/02/2019 530 pages
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 22/02/2019 - 05/04/2019 750 pages
47 Seconds by Jane Ryan 05/04/2019 - 12/04/2019 ? Pages
Party trap. 15/04/2019-17/04/2019 112 pages
Pulp Literature Issue No. 22 17/04/2019-
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers 27/04/2019-
08/05/2019. 291 pages
Black Snow by Paul Lynch 08/05/2019-15/05/2019 272 pages
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty 16/05/2019-29/05/2019 361 pages
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor 29/05/2019 - 04/06/2019 370 pages
The Price You Pay by Aidan Truhen 04/06/2019 - 08/06/2019 240 pages
Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty 08/06/2019 - 24/06/2019 621 pages
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry 25/06/2019 - 27/06/2019 224 pages
The Princess Bride by William Goldman 27/06/2019 - 09/07/2019 399 pages
The Unfortunate Fursey by Melvyn Wall 09/07/2019 - 17/07/2019 241 pages
The Hunting Party. DNF
The Wych Elm Tana French 18/06/2019 - 03/08/2019 513 pages
The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson 04/08/2019 - 07/08/2019 213 pages
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien 07/08/2019 - 27/08/2019 172 pages
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng 27/08/2019 - 11/09/2019 409 pages
Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair 27/08/2019 -
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks 11/09/2019 - 28/09/2019 309 pages
Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers 29/09/2019 - 03/10/2019 143 pages
The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler 03/10/2019 - 12/10/2019 226 pages
No. 252 Rue M. le Prince by Ralph Adams Cram 05/10/2019 - 5/10/2019 10 pages Short story
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall 12/10/2019 -
Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler 26/10/2019 -
Oops... did I say that out loud?
As a little deviation for my new volume I am going to list the 20 books listed in the Sunday Business Post Magazine as perfect reads for relaxing with during long summer days as determined by Nadine O'Regan and Andrew Lynch, two people whom I know nothing about.
The Patient Assassin: A True Tale of Massacre, Revenge and the Raj by Anita Anand
Novelisation about a man who was a survivor of a massacre conducted under the Raj and how, 21 years later, he tracked down and assassinated the lieutenant governor of the Punjab who had ordered the slaughter.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
A story about the place of Muslims in a new world of distrust.
The Wych Elm by Tana French *
The Snakes by Sadie Jones
A couple living in London go take a year out to let one of the partners try to find themselves. (You can really tell this is my type of book, can't you?)
Elsewhere: One Woman, One Rucksack, One Lifetime of Travel by Rosita Boland
A travel book that apparently explores profound life questions...and how you should deal with societal expectations. (I am sure it does.)
A Shared Home Place by Seamus Mallon
Memoir of a the former leader of The Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) that is the moderate nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. Seamus Mallon was the deputy leader of the party under John Hume who was the primary mover in bringing the peace process to fruition.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley *
A "whodunit". In the prologue we learn that one of the hunting party members has been found dead. The story jumps back three days and begins.
Siege: Trump Under Fire by Michael Wolff
I probably do not have to add any description.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Young-girl-arrives-in-the-big-city story. That's what the review described it as.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
A book that gives their dignity back to the people so brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper.
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine *
Personal essays about difficult life situations. This book won the An Post Irish Book of the Year Award. It is supposed to be very moving and brave.
White by Bret Easton Ellis
Memoir. The reviewer highlighted many flaws with this book but concluded with, "Read it for the good bits." Having read the rest of the review I get the impression that there are no good bits or if there are they are precious few and difficult to find.
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award this year, the richest prize in the world for a work in English. The books for this award are nominated by librarians across the world which is a filter to keep poor books off the list.
Rockonomics by Alan B Krueger
A book about how the economics of the Rock industry works and doesn't work.
Maid: Hard Work, low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Focuses on the author's time spent cleaning the houses of Washington's upper middle-class for less than $10 an hour.
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
The Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal and Redemption by Ben Mezrich
Story about the guys who claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook and who then went on to creat Bitcoin and become multimillionaires.
Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
Enda the Road: Nine Days That Toppled A Taoiseach by Gavan Reilly
Internal politics within the Fine Gael party in Ireland and how it brought about the leader's demise.
Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy
A book that purports to explain how cost-cutting was the real cause of the Chernobyl disaster.
*I have in my library.
I am not saying I will read all of these but I shall read some of them to get a feel for what people are telling me I should be reading.
>4 pgmcc: I've only read one (the French) but I have heard of several, including an in depth radio interview with the author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. I was intrigued, but not enough to pick it up.
I have not read any of the listed books but I have read two of the authors before. I intend to read more Tana French. Perhaps even The Wych Elm. I do not intend to read any more Brad Easton Ellis. American Psycho was more than plenty for me.
I will struggle on for a fee pages but I am not thinking this will be the enjoyable whodunnit I thought it might be. I suspect I will be wading through the proverbial.
Now I know something about the reviewers who wrote the article; they have no judgement worth a fig.
Thank you! I am working on my phone and it is not always easy to check touchstones. I will correct it later.
In other news:
I have taken a couple of days off to just get a break from work and try to establish some calm. Today my wife and I took a trip to Athlone. Our excuse was threefold.
1. I have an old family bible (dated 1878) handed down from my mother's branch of the family. It is in a pretty bad condition and we have been thinking about getting it restored for some time. There is a "Liturgical Book Restorer" in Athlone. We brought the bible there and the old gentleman was a treat to meet. He will work on the book and it should be ready in three weeks.
2. There is a small bistro a few doors from the Liturgical Book Restorer in which we have had the most beautiful chowder we have ever had. We discovered it several years ago and have gone to Athlone (about a one-and-a-half hour drive) just to have the chowder before. The last time we were there we were a bit disappointed. It was not as creamy as we had expected. Today we gave them another chance. Unfortunately they continued to skimp on the cream. We shall not be going to Athlone again with the sole purpose of having the chowder. :-(
3. There is a secondhand bookshop next door to the bistro. :-) Need I say more.
I always find something of interest when I visit this shop. Today I took three books into my protective custody.
- Selections from the Writings of John Ruskin: 1843 - 1860. Published in 1893.
- The Scorching Wind by Walter Macken
- The Paintings of George Russell (AE)
It was a lovely day.
I am happy to report that The Wych Elm is capturing me right from the start.
2. Too bad about that chowder.
3. Nice mini-haul!
PS Is that the first thing of hers that you'll have read? It was my first.
I have been scribbling notes and taking the occasional photograph with a view to jotting down a paper on the anonymisation of cityscapes.
On Friday morning I got word from my sister that her sister-in-law has died. A sister's sister-in-law may not appear to be very close but I was very chummy with her and her children; so much so that she was nearly my mother-in-law.
Her funeral will be on Monday but I cannot take the day off work so will be visiting the wake house tomorrow. The snag is that the wake house is in Donegal. You may remember the last time I drove there it took me seven hours.
Off to bed early as we will be driving for a long time tomorrow.
You must be afraid to answer your phone by now.
Some things you just need to leave alone
PS: Don't tell anyone when you are about to leave, especially here in the Green Dragon.
I was telling a colleague in work about the three deaths and he said he could take one death, he could take three deaths, but if there were two he would be waiting for the third. He then said I was in the clear for a while. That was when I told him I read a book in May called Six Wakes. :-O
The trip to Donegal went well, thank you for mentioning it, Busifer. We took the road to Belfast and then across to Derry and Donegal. That is mostly motorway and dual-carriageway. The direct route I took the last time has more ordinary roads that are more prone to traffic jams and blockages.
When we got to Belfast we spent an hour with my brother's widow. I made some tea and then started cleaning the dishes. That is when my sister-in-law said, "It's only now I am realising how much Raymond did about the house, like the dishes." We had a bit of a laugh.
When we got over the border we stopped at a little coffee shop/café called The Gap. That is the place I may have mentioned before with the sign on the door to the toilets that states, "This is the door you are looking for". :-)
Wakes in the country are much different from wakes in the city. Donegal keeps very much to the old tradition. As we approached the wake-house there were "Wake" signs at various junctions. Mary's remains were taken to her son's house on Saturday. There was a constant stream of people visiting the house to pay their respects. The coffin was open and people would stay up all night chatting and reminiscing. Everyone was offered tea and sandwiches and friends, neighbours and relatives would be bringing food stuffs and cake to help feed the visitors. The wake would go on from the time the coffin arrives in the house until it is removed for burial. The burial was this morning. Unfortunately I could not stay for the funeral and drove home last night.
On Saturday we went to my aunt's wake. Her remains were in a funeral parlour rather than the house. The family were there for about four hours to receive mourners. We went over and spent about an hour at the funeral parlour. My cousins insisted that we join them for coffee in a nearby pub/restaurant afterwards. The internment will not take place until next Friday as the grandchildren have to come from various parts of the world. One of them is a goddaughter of mine and she, in her thirties, is fighting breast cancer and has her final dose of radiation therapy on Thursday. She only discovered her problem after giving birth to her little girl last year.
Despite the horrible circumstances of our meeting with our friends and relatives at the two wakes it was lovely to see people I have not seen for a long time. Some of the people I met in Donegal were friends I haven't seen for about thirty years. That was great. Yes, suitable1, she was there. :-) We are the best of friends.
(I'm glad you saw 'her' and that your are on such good terms.)
As to the wakes: house wakes were the tradition in Sweden as well, and went just the way you describe it. I'm not sure when it was discontinued, I've heard stories from the early 20th century but none later than the 30's. Maybe it continued out in the country until wwII, but from the 50's and forward there are no wakes at all. Goodbyes are said at the funeral, and friends and relatives catch up at the coffee/light meal traditionally served afterwards.
I guess this is for sanitary reasons. Some of the wake stories that I've heard are rather gruesome...
People who come to Ireland from England think it strange that so many people go to funerals.
Late night reminiscing among family and friends seems to me an integral part of how to say 'goodbye'.
I am very disappointed in Canon. In 2017 my family bought me a Canon 1300D digital SLR camera for my birthday. The camera, including 18-55mm lens cost about €400. It had a two year warranty.
For the past two and a half years I have been happy snapping away with my new toy. Last month, less than six months out of warranty, my camera stopped recording pictures. It auto focused. It beeped when the appropriate button was depressed It did not show the taken photograph on the display, nor did it record an image on the SD card.
A bit of logical troubleshooting led me to think it was something to do with the sensor; the key element of a DSLR camera; the component everything else is built around.
I was not going to toy with an expensive camera so I decided to take it back to the shop where I bought it. They went through the same logical steps as I had and concluded something was seriously wrong. They gave me a receipt for my camera and sent the camera to Canon for investigation. I had to pay €100 up front against any repair costs.
Today I received a telephone call from the camera shop. Canon had been on to say the problem was the sensor and that a whole new sensor assembly would have to be put into the camera and the repair cost was going to be €430, more than the original camera cost.
I am pissed off that such a vital component can expire so soon after the warranty period. That calls Canon reliability into question.
I am pissed that Canon is prepared to charge more than the camera to repair the camera.
I am pissed that it took Canon three weeks to come back with a diagnosis.
I am pissed that I invested in Canon lenses for my camera and that unless I am going to sell these lenses and buy new ones I am going to have to spend more money to buy another Canon camera.
Canon is one of the biggest names in photography. I am shocked that one of its cameras expires in such a fundamental fashion in less than 30 months. It is enough to put me off photography. It has certainly left me with a very bad taste in my mouth about Canon.
The real point is that any electronic device can fail at any time, any manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. Same goes for any kind of device, camera, printer, television, smartphone, automobile, etc, Even though I've never had a DSLR fail, I always take two cameras on a photography trip since I know there's always a chance for a problem.
Very few, if any, electronic devices are made to be repaired. It does seem strange that if the sensor can be replaced, that it costs more that the original camera and lens.
My major grip is with smartphone that have a battery that can't be replaced even though we know they all lose that ability to hold a change.
Oh, and I have an Argus C-3 film camera from the early fifties that still works, but for some reason it doesn't get much use.
Which cell phones have batteries you can't change? O.O That seems ridiculous to me. Though I have been told that once a phone reaches a certain age changing the battery does little to prolong the charge. It's got as much if not more to do with all of the apps & their remnants eating up power as it does to do with the battery efficiency itself.
Maybe I'm not looking, but I don't know of any newer phones where the user can change the battery.
Okay, let's say that they are not made for end-users to change the battery.
Thank you all for your sympathy. All my colleagues are in shock. Our friend and colleague was very popular and someone that no one had a bad word to say about. He was very fair, helpful and friendly. He will be missed. Of the four deaths amongst my family and friends in the past seven weeks his was the most shocking as he was only in his mid fifties and most of us who worked with him have had meetings with him last Thursday or Friday. Things are a bit surreal at the moment.
To all Peter's friends and family: Can you please stop expiring at the current rate as it's not fair that those left behind have so much grief all at once.
It sounds like you have lost a really good man. The unexpectedness makes it harder for those left behind, but in that situation, I try to take comfort in how little the person themself suffered.
Thank you, all.
Sitting in a hotel in Westport having some tea and toast before the funeral. Westport is the place we spent a weekend on the trail of George A. Birmingham, a favourite author of my wife. The deceased friend is from near here and he was very interested in our visit and even gave me recommendations on places to eat.
I expect the funeral to be very big. I know many of my colleagues have travelled from Dublin for the funeral. An Irish country funeral will be big normally.
Having read 47 Seconds and started The Hunting Party I can say Tana French's writing is far superior to that of the other authors. By the way, I dislike most of the characters in The Wych Elm but French's writing and story is keeping me engaged.
Thank you to those of you who pushed me towards reading Tana French.
This is the first Tana French book I have read so I had not expectations.
The Wych Elm by Tana French 513 pages
I found this a well written murder mystery with realistic characters and an almost Gothic-in-a-modern-setting feel to it. There was an old family house; a family secret; an evil villain; a murder; and the threat of dungeons, well, prison cells.
The characters include professional, Dublin millennials, totally focused on
Tana French does an excellent job of portraying the lives and attitudes of the families who have lived in the big old houses in the rich leafy suburbs that are now some of the most expensive real-estate in the country, and whose children are the fodder of the modern Millenial business world, people who believe they are indestructible and that rules and laws are for others.
I came to this book having just read two other murder mysteries, 47 Seconds and The Hunting Party. As soon as I started reading The Wych Elm I knew I was dealing with an author whose writing skill was infinitely better than that of the authors of my earlier two reads.
I am giving this book 3.5 stars out of 5. For me a 3 represents a good book. 3.5 is praise indeed. I reserve 4 and above for books that teach me something and that I find to have interesting wordplay, or novel ideas and insights. The Wych Elm is a good read; it is an interesting murder mystery. I will read more books by Tana French, but I did not find myself making notes in the margin, putting comments in the back cover to remind me to go back to certain pages and reread wonderful ideas and phrases. This is the type of book I would read for a relaxing read. It is well written and entertaining and I will approach further Tana French books with that in mind. I would recommend it as a summer read.
This is my current read. It is one I have been planning to read for a long time. It is one of those books I should have read a long time ago as it is supposed to be a masterpiece of the WEIRD. It is the favourite book of my friend who runs The Swan River Press and I am reading a beautiful edition (Pictures to follow at a later date.) that he produced as a labour of love.
I am about half way through the book. It is certainly a spooky read. Earlier today I was reading the book in the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day at the time. Our cat, George, was sitting on a chair beside me. George went tense and started to stare into the corner of the garden through some bushes. I could not see what he was staring at but the stare was so intense I knew something was there. I found myself walking to the bushes trying to see what had his attention but I could not see it. I thought it might be another cat, or a bird, or small mammal. Possibly even a butterfly or other insect. I could see nothing.
While I was doing that investigation I was reminded of how the main character in the book
As it happened I caught a few glimpses of a cat sauntering away along the neighbour's wall. George relaxed and started to get interested in other things. I am going with the cat theory. What else could it be? (Please do not answer the question.)
Lovely little critters.
I find I cannot read this book without great imagery forming in my mind. The descriptions flow easily into images in my mind and I feel the urge to draw what I see. The edition I have contains illustrations created for this edition. They help build the eerie atmosphere the author intended to develop.
The book was first published in 1904 and is of the style of spooky stories of the time: the discovery of a manuscript under rubble in a ruin located in a remote wilderness. The bulk of the text is that of the discovered manuscript. The reader cannot but relate to the narrator who is at the heart of all the mysterious happenings. To say more would ruin the book for you.
I'm so sorry, you and your family has had such a rough time. You have my sympathies.
I had a great time at Worldcon in Dublin. See my haul of books.
I met a lot of friends I only see at such events and made new friends. My inner fanboy was happy once I got to meet S.A. Chakraborty, the author of The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper. These are books that you will be aware I was well impressed by.
In terms of meeting with LT people I managed to meet up with:
anglemark (both parts)
a real life friend of jillmwo. The story behind this will have to wait. All I will say now is that T.J. gave me all the gossip.
I will provide other bits of convention updates in the coming days, including some of the gossip about jillmwo. Talk about good value. :-)
And we are all waiting for the dirt... ;o)
Too late I realised that an online friend from the Cherryh fan community worked at the info booth. She flew in from the US. I've had a lot on my plate and has not managed to keep up to date with much of anything since way back before I went on summer vacation. I just now saw her pictures from Dublin.
I need another vacation... ;-)
I would strongly recommend The Third Policeman to people who like convolute humour with an element of intricate pseudo-science taken to the point of absurdity.
I still have about 30 pages to go.
I loved The Third Policeman.
I have started reading Under The Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. It won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author at the 2019 WorldCon. Her acceptance speech was emotional and she made a statement that John W. Campbell's name should be removed from the award as he had a history of mysogyny and fascism. She has caused a stir.
I am only about thirty pages into the book and will hold judgement until the end as to whether I think it is a worthy winner of a "Best New Author" award. At this point I do not think it is as good as The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty who had my vote for the award. I am finding the prose to be more labourious than Chakraborty's and am trying to be as objective as possible. Chakraborty came third after the voting so I will have to revisit the second place novel as well. To be better books that The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper they would need to be "BIG WOW!" books. I am not seeing that so far in Under the Pendulum Sun.
I have also started reading Foreshadow: Trapped in Her Own Mind by Leena Althekair. This is on the Kindle app on my phone and I am using it for those moments when I do not have my physical books with me. So far it is about a 16/17 yearold girl starting High School. Apparently her brother has been dabbling with time travel.
I have just booked three tickets to a showing of the 70mm format version of Dune in the Irish Film Institute. It is a one-night-only showing and will be packed with Dune enthusiasts. I went to their one-night-only showing of Bladerunner about two years ago and it was a great crowd to be with watching a film we all loved.
Another indication of the validity of the accusations comes in the form of the reactions to the speech on social media, that much distorted representation of humanity and magnifier of our worst characteristics. The reactions I have seen have fallen into two groups; one, a complaint (or more accurately "an attack") that Jeanette Ng should use the platform of her winning in a political fashion, and two, praise for Jeanette Ng in making this statement. I am grateful to her for bringing this to my attention. I have not seen any denials of the accusations.
The fact that the title of the award has been instantaniously changed to "The Astounding Award for Best New Wrtier" would indicate that the powers-that-be believe there is sufficient evidence supporting the accusations to warrant swift action and the removal of Campbell's name from the award.
It remains true that Campbell was enormously influential, and that at least at first his influence worked for the better. The number of established writers who left the Astounding/Analog stable indicates that fairly soon his influence ceased to be entirely a good thing.
The first event I attended was at 7pm on Wednesday, 14th August at the Science Gallery in Trinity College. This was a panel discussion entitled "Oppy or Armstrong? Autonomous vs human space exploration" It would have been difficult to assemble a more appropriate panel for this discussion.
From left to right:
Dr. Noelle Ameijenda; Panel moderator - qualifications in Astrophysics
Aliette de Bodard; AI designer and safety manager
Geoffrey A. Landis; Space exploration robot engineer. Has worked on the Opportunity & Curiosity Mars rovers
Dr Inge Heyer (Loyola University Maryland); Professor of Astronomy
Jeanette Epps (NASA); Astronaut Corps
The discussion was interesting, entertaining and fun. The panel members gelled really well and the audience loved the session. It was a great start to the convention.
On the following day I managed to grab a picture with Jeanette Epps just to make my son-in-law mad. He has been trying to get on the NASA astronaut programme and to think his old father-in-law got to meet someone on the programme would really irk him. :-)
The CCD is the building on the right in the picture below with the glass drink can tilted into it.
There are four upper floors in the CCD. To avoid transatlantic confusion, there is a ground floor and four floors above that. Access to the upper floors was by elevator, escalator or stairs. The picture below shows the escalators zig zagging up the front of the building to bring delegates to the various floors. Did I mention that over 5,500 people attended the convention?
This image was made by feeding a video into MS ICE, a freely available piece of software that creates composite pictures from still photographs or videos. At the top of the picture one is looking straight up.
If one goes to the fourth floor (fifth floor by US counting) and looks down, then one will see this:
The single CCD mat on the balcony over the entrance is roughly where I was standing to make the video used to produce the previous picture.
As you might have guessed, the first place I visited in the CCD was the Dealers' Room.
People not in the know ask me, What is a "Dealers' Room"?
I reply, A warehouse where people sell things, mainly books. :-)
As you can see the Dealers' Room was pretty vast. I refer you to post >95 pgmcc: for the damage this establishment did to my wallet.
Yes, that is a DeLorean from Back to the Future sitting out front.
And floors can be so confusing.
Cultural differences are made up from the small things that muddles up understanding when we think everything is perfectly clear. How could a floor not be a floor?! ;-)
Without giving anything away the story is about a lady whose brother is a Christian missionary. His mission is in the land of the fae. Having not heard from him for a long time she seeks and obtains the permission of the missionary movement he works for to follow him. The story is told from her point of view.
I am only reading this book because it won the Astounding New Writer Award at Worldcon. So far I have not found anything that would have me wanting to read any more from this author.
And, seriously, I am glad it all lived up to your expectations so well.
Now you are making me jealous.
The convention did live up to my expectations, all credit to the team that worked to bring it to Dublin and make it such a success.
Funny story from Alistair Reynolds, the author of hard science fiction novels. He told this story at a convention in Belfast about twelve years ago.
He was contacted by someone claiming to work in administration in NASA. This person was going to be in England in a few months time, was a great fan of Alistair's books, and would love to meet for a coffee if possible.
Alistair was delighted with the idea of someone from NASA reading his books and agreed straight away. (He is a lovely guy and would have agreed to meet anybody who asked.)
Arrangements were made and mobile numbers exchanged and text messages crossed from one to the other. As the fateful hour approached Alistair received a text message from the person. He was apprehensive that the NASA person might be cancelling the meeting.
The text message was an apology and a request as to whether the NASA person could bring someone else along to the coffee. He was most upset at asking this and imposing on Alistair's goodwill.
Alistair asked who the other person was and was told, "It is one of the astronauts. He is over too and is a big fan and would love to meet you."
Needless to say Alistair was gobsmacked and agreed wholeheartedly to the astronaut coming along too.
I cannot remember the astronaut's name but he told Alistair that his books were very popular with all his colleagues. You can imagine how pleased Alistair Reynolds was when he heard that news.
Now you are making me jealous
Glad to be of service. ;-)
That is a lovely story. And also a stonkingly good recommendation for Alastair Reynolds' books.
I have only read one of his books, Century Rain. It is a detective noir story on another planet and I enjoyed it very much. I understand it is quite different from his other books.
The fact I have only read one of his books so far is not a reflection of my impression of his writing. He is an author I just have not gotten round to in a big way but hope to.
I would restate that he is a lovely person. Very self-depricating in conversation and has a good sense of humour.
>123 pgmcc: Excellent story!
>125 pgmcc: I too have only read one of his books - and it happens to be Century Rain. I enjoyed it greatly. I have 4 other titles of his on the shelf for which I need to make time. Revelation Space is among them but, being a bit of a completist, I will need to acquire the rest of the RS Universe books before diving in. The only other one I have so far is The Prefect. I also have House of Suns, and the Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days duology. Hmmm... the latter appears to be part of the RS Universe. I am finding that I don't know enough about his books to understand what I should read next. Careful research, to avoid spoilers, is apparently needed...
>125 pgmcc:, >127 ScoLgo: I too have only read Century Rain, but while I enjoyed it I wasn't overjoyed and put him to the side. I can't remember who, but probably reading_fox (?), urged me to give him another try at some point, and I have Blue Remembered Earth on a shelf somewhere.
I remember thinking that he had a great imagination but that the prose was a bit on the dry side, even for a hard sf author. Or maybe I was just in the wrong mood. I expect to get around to him again, eventually.
I see Amazon.co.uk has the Kindle version of The City of Brass on sale for a limited time at 99 pence. A bargain at ten times the price.
The programme of events for WorldCon was 155 pages long. Thankfully it was available as a pdf.
For any given time slot there were up to fifteen events going on. As you would expect many of the events I wanted to go to were on at the same time. At 11am on Thursday, 15th August, the first full day of the convention, there were four panel discussions I would have liked to attend. There were:
Invasion and the Irish imagination
Ruins, curses, and family secrets: the Gothic Panel
Writing from non-western cultures
Is it about a bicycle? The influences of a comedic genius
I would have loved to attend any of these. On the day I went to “Is it about a bicycle?” This is a reference to The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, an Irish civil servant and writer of witty satire. The panel discussion was brilliant, humorous, informative and great value.
The participants were an academic, a journalist, a Flann O’Brien aficionado, and a savant who works as a lobbyist, independent diplomat, and professional election analyst. The discussion covered not only The Third Policeman but O’Brien’s other works (The Poor Mouth, The Dalkey Archives, etc…) and his unfortunate life that meant his masterpiece, At Swim Two Birds, was published posthumously. The panel was the subject of an article in The Irish Times, the Irish paper of record.
I was about half way through The Third Policeman when I went to the panel.
Apparently this book was the inspiration for the TV series LOST!
I have been quietly kicking myself for a while now, after reading so many enthusiastic reviews here on HD, because I was offered a copy of this free, when it first came out,c as part of the Amazon Vine programme. But I had read so many bad first fantasy novels as a result of that scheme at that time, and thus looked long, so I seem to have passed on it.
It is some recompense for Amazon's reduced price Tolkien offer (mentioned earlier in this pub) never making it to the author's native land!
I managed to make contact with five LibraryThing members. The evidence is here:
RobertDay joined me in the Ferryman pub on the Friday. The Ferryman is just across the river from the CCD where WorldCon was based.
At 6pm on the Friday I met Robert again and we were joined by Maddz and the Johan side of anglemark.
I caught up with the Néa side of anglemark at the Swan River Press stand on the Monday.
I also managed to meet up with Imryl and had a great chat with her.
The convention was great fun and what I enjoyed most of all was linking up with people I seldom have a chance to meet. Meeting these five LTers certainly added to the enjoyment of the convention for me. The convention was so big with so much going on it would have been impossible to get everyone together at the same time in the same place. I was delighted to get to meet these people who I have interacted with on-line and whom I would not bump into as part of the normal run of things.
A bonus meeting was meeting T. J. T. J. is not on LT as far as I know, but she is a close friend of jillmwo and is in fact the contact who gave me all the gossip about jillmwo which I am keeping to myself until all the bids are in and I get a chance to see what the highest bid is.
That is interesting; I am wearing the same shirt. I guarantee I washed it at least once since 2016.
Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing!
I have finished Under the Pendulum Sun. I found it much ado about almost nothing. It is an attempt at a Gothic novel with the main characters being a Christian missionary in the land of the fairies and his sister who follows him to the land of the fae. The whole book is about
The writing was occasionally turgid and the the practice of starting every chapter with some real, some psuedo-, and some made up theological texts was not conducive to an easy flow of reading.
The author put a lot of work and effort into producing this book but it did not overawe me. I will not be reading any more books by Jeannette Ng.
I will definitely stay away from this one. Whatever the quality of the writing the theme itself is not something that I want to spend time on.
I have started a re-read of The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks as a palete cleanser. I found reading Under the Pendulum Sun a chore but felt I had to read it as it was the book that won "The Best New Writer" award for the author at WorldCon. There was only an extract available in the voter pack.
Since Iain died I have intended to re-read all his SF books. I have only managed a few so far but I always find my re-reads of his novels very rewarding. In my youthful innocence of past years I have been oblivious to layers of meaning in his books and my re-reads have always given me more insights into the worlds he created and the messages he was promoting. The Player of Games is one of my favourite Banks books (it was my favourite until The Algebraist and Look to Windward came along; now the three share pole position.) and I am looking forward to the joy of relaxing in the world of The Culture.
On that basis, would you recommend? (I know that Consider Phlebas is the first in the series - but also more torture-heavy?)
>143 -pilgrim-: Others are more well read in the Banksverse than I but, in my experience there is definitely a dark edge to his writing. More so in the non-Culture books, (if The Wasp Factory and prologue to Complicity are any indication). Consider Phlebas starts off with one of the more startlingly original 'torture/execution' concepts I have seen in SF. I found it more humorous than shocking - but that reaction can likely be attributed to my twisted sense of humour than to anything else. IOW... YMMV...
As >144 ScoLgo: mentioned, Consider Phlebas starts with a novel and humorous "torture" situation. I do recall, however, there is at least one "shock" incident that I would think you might want to avoid. When I first met Iain he was with his first wife and she had typed Consider Phlebas for him. She described typing this section and trying to simply type without taking in the meaning of the words.
If Banks described cruelty it was to make a point about the cruelty in the real world. His books often involved allegory to the current day. He would have held with the saying (which I have still not found an original source for) "If you want to tell the truth, write Fiction. If you want to tell the truth about today, write Science Fiction." When his books were published it was often to the background of something like
one of The Gulf Wars and it was not hard to spot parallels with what was happening in the real world.
His non-SF books often contain "shock" elements, in particular, The Wasp Factory (which is very much black-humour) and Complicity. I would not recommend these to you if you are in any way squimish.
I do not remember any torture in The Player of Games but I do recall a description of extreme poverty in juxtaposition with extreme wealth.
In nearly all his non-SF books he included a sex scene. I found many of these irrelevant to the rest of the story. It appeared he felt there was an expectation that he would include such scenes.
I think I am saying, proceed with caution.
I find that I have less tolerance for obviously invented brutality than for accounts that are representing something that actually happened. So, for example, I have read Isaac Babel on pogroms, or Shalamov's Kolyma Tales and highly recommend both. There is shock value there, but no loving lingering on the detail.
Stephen Donaldson's Mordant's Need sequence would be an example of something that I found obsessed with unpleasant detail to an extent that I found distasteful.
As to the gratuitous sex scenes - I usually just skim them, until we get back to the plot.
But are you both suggesting that it might be better to skip Consider Phlebas and start with The Player of Games?
I still mourn his passing, the world lost so many unwritten stories...
>147 -pilgrim-:, >148 Busifer: I agree that The player of games would be a good Culture novel to begin with. I enjoy Consider Phlebas but would definitely recommend avoiding it because it does get very dark and there is some extreme gore which I have to skim over. I'd also steer clear of Use of weapons.
I know she is still working on edits but was hoping it would still be our by February.
This moves it post the current target date for Brexit so I may not be able to get if from Amazon(dot)co(dot)uk so may have to buy it from France of Germany.
Everything is simpler ordering from within the EU as there is totally free trading across the EU countries. Once one is buying from a non-EU country, which the UK will be after Brexit, there are several levels of administration to be navigated by someone or other. The shipper has to prepare a customs declaration and have this on the package; the trucking company has to have clearance to enter the EU; etc...
Whatever way it goes there will be a period of disruption before things settle down.
I was hoping that the "no increases" clause would preclude Amazon passing in the, as yet unknown, administrative costs to you. But you are right, customs duties would still be liable at your end, I fear.
And that is despite not having to deal with Brexit to get it: I have fully functional bricks'n'mortar SF/F bookshop not far from where I live. I go there and buy stuff, to keep them in business, rather than buy online.
But to have to wait another 6 months is painful in itself.
Obviously she has a low boredom threshold.
I am enjoying my re-read of The Player of Games. It is getting into the main story now and I am having the same experience I have had re-reading other Iain Banks novels; I am seeing so much more in the story than when I first read it. To say too much would be a spoiler. Let me just say that Banks had a great understanding of the world and how it works and how the scenario described in this book, published in 1988, is prophetic. If it were published today people would think it was about current affairs on both sides of the Atlantic. Ecology even gets a mention.
I am 94 pages into my re-read of The Player of Games and would second Busifer's recommendation in post >148 Busifer: and Sakerfalcon's recommentation in post >149 Sakerfalcon: that you start with this book. I am now into the doing things stage of the story having passed through the setting the scene and character introductions. The Player of Games was for a long time my favourite Banks SF novel.
As I have mentioned elsewhere I am getting a lot more from Banks's books on my re-reads; this is only to be expected as I have grown older and more experienced in life. (Note I did not say I have grown wiser, nor did I say I am more mature.)
Which we all know is full of cultural revolutions and wild activities.
Look to Windward vies with The Player of Games for the position of my favourite Culture novel. The only reason I would not recommend it as a first Culture read is that I believe I got a lot more out of it by knowing something about the Culture before I read it. In my opinion The Player of Games is a better introduction to the Culture universe.
The only other Culture novels that I believe benefit from prior Culture knowledge are Surface Detail and Inversions.
My favourite non-Culture IMB novel is The Algebraist.
Riley, there are not many people who appreciate this fact. Thank you for your understanding and support.
As I have been progressing through the book I have pictured the description of the "Azad Empire" and its working as a description, as observed from the viewpoint of a totally objective alien civilisation (The Culture), of the monoculture that the modern world on Earth has become. It is not giving any spoliers away by stating that there is a series of games involved in the book (There's a clue in the title.), and now that I am re-reading the book I see strong parallels between these games and The United States of America's presidential election process. In the Azad Empire there are games held every six years and the winner of the games becomes Emperor and all the administrative positions are filled by his/her nominees. The games and people's progress in life, promotions etc..., all depend on one's performance in the game. This is where I see more general parallels to mondern-day life; if one plays the game expected in the social order to which one belongs then one expects to progress or advance in their work and social spheres. It is all about playing the game.
I have read Living Souls by Dmitry Bykov which, from reading the Amazon summary of Day of the Oprichnik, deals with some similar issues. I think Living Souls was an attempt at a contemporary version of Dead Souls by Gogol. Bykov describes how people in the post-Glasnost era are coping with the world. I have an e-text version of Dead Souls which I hope to read soon. Some descriptions of the book I have read appear to support my hypothesis about Bykov's intent.
While I really, really like Player of Games, Look to Windward and Consider Phelbas, I'm not a big fan of the Algebraist. It seemed boring for way too much of it.
The Hydrogen Sonata was not up to much. I think Iain thought that himself and was a bit saddened that it was his last Culture novel. In his last interview he said he was disappointed not to be leaving with his last book being a great romping Culture novel. My own opinion is that his last book, The Quarry, was an excellent final novel for him; it was like a manifesto of his personal beliefs. He claimed not to know he had his illness until he was withing 10,000 words of the books ending but it was hard not to think he had designed this book as his lasting message to the world.
Living Souls has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while (unfortunately in a location where I am currently not).
I have not read Dead Souls since a "schools" version in my teens. If the translation that you have is any good, please let me know.
A warning may be in order about Day of the Oprichnik; it is very witty, biting satire, but there are times when it definitely ventures where another writer would not go. My personal view is that those episodes are justified, but it can get rather eye-watering. Given my paean to understatement with reference to 9, I thought this caveat should be added.
I started reading Grace O'Malley: The Biography of Ireland's Pirate Queen 1530-1603 yesterday. It is very informative and gives a good feel for life in the West of Ireland in the Sixteenth Century for the Gaelic chieftians, their families, and their followers.
This is non-fiction and is a 40th anniversary of publication edition. As a semi-accademic book it does have some narrative flaws, such as repeating itself in different sections, switching back and forward between incidents. The chapters are basically essays on various aspects of Grace O'Malley's life and are roughly in chronological sequence.
As a person who controlled a fleet of ships and an army that had considerable sway over trade around the Irish coast, and traded between Scotland and Spain, she was very impressive. She even sailed up the Thames to Greenwich to meet Queen Elizabeth I of England to get a few things straight, and came away with what she wanted. The English military leaders charged with suppressing Ireland had been sending back reports about Grace O'Malley the portrayed her as a ruthless outlaw who commanded hundreds of soldiers, had a fleet of pirate ships, and who plundered the west coast of Ireland and beyond. Grace O'Malley wanted to by-pass the military men and deal directly with Queen Elizabeth, something she did with great success.
On my way home from Birmingham last evening I had a few hours to kill in the airport. W. H. Smith's "Buy 1 get 1 HALF PRICE" offer caught my eye. One book stood out for me, Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. This intrigued me and I had to have it.
Having picked my "1" I had to find the "get 1 HALF PRICE". (Yes, I am a sucker for these offers.) That took some searching but then I noticed The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler. I have not read any Ambler before but I recalled someone here saying good things about his work.
I am well aware of English misrepresentations of Scottish clan structures and society, so would be interested in something that similarly clarified Irish society for me.
>185 pgmcc: I remember The Mask of Dimitrios as the film with Peter Lorre, but have no idea how closely that related to the book.
I do not know if I have seen the Peter Lorre film. I love the characters he plays and must hunt down The Mask of Dimitri film.
Just as a by-the-by I am off to see The Third Man in the Irish Film Institute this evening. It is a 70th Anniversary showing.
>187 Jim53: I hope the wound is not too bad. I am well into the book and am enjoying the content. I think it could have been better structured but one can forgive a forty year old accademic book if it does not flow like a novel.
There is an Introduction to this edition that was written by Mary McAleese, the former Irish President. I am looking forward to reading that. I seldom read introductions before I read the contents of a book.
The Lighthouse Cinema showed the film on Sunday. A colleague attended and was telling me they had someone playing the zither before the film.
You are not alone in having zither music in your head.
The first book bullet was from -pilgrim-. -pilgrim- has been very accurate recently where I am concerned.
The book is Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin.
I cannot recall who fired the other book bullet.
It is The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow Apart from anything else the dust-cover is very pretty.
The work related book is The Choice by Eli Goldratt.
Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile (pronounciation guide) as she is better known in Ireland, was a formidable leader who was active over forty years leading her followers in person on excursions for their "maintenance on land and at sea". "Maintenance on land and at sea" was the term used to describe her pirate activities and her raids on the territory of other clans.
This is not just a biography of Granuaile but also an overview of the Celtic way of life that prevailed in Ireland before it was replaced by English rule of law. It is a fitting record of the end of one way of life and the encrouchment of its replacement.
I have finished this book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about life in the days of the Chieftains and clans in Ireland. It is written as a biography of a major figure in Irish history at a critical time when the old ways were facing disruption from an aggressive and powerful neighbour. Granuaile was a powerful leader and even took her own ship to London to engage with Queen Elizabeth I in an attempt to circumvent the English military men Elizabeth has sent to Ireland; an aim she managed to pull off.
At the time of her coming to power women were not "supposed" to be in positions of power in the Celtic world. She ignored the standard role women were supposed to play and made her own destiny, taking what she wanted, doing what she wanted, and protecting the interests of her family and her people. She led her pirate bands with sword in hand, and took part in the raiding parties on land. To lead in her environment one had to be strong and to be willing to fight off competitors. Her forty years of active life demonstrates how formidable a lady she was.
In the Introduction, of which I have only read a couple of sentences, this book is described as, "...a bomb intended to blow up the vicarage whodunnit as decisively as the fifty tons of TNT that the eight-year-old Eric Ambler had watched devastate the Silvertown storage depot in 1917*..."
If this book matches this description even in a small way, well then, I am going to enjoy it.
Now, I shall light the blue touch-paper and stand well back.
*This means Eric Ambler was one year younger than my father. It is funny to think of an author in terms of being of my father's age. I suppose I had always thought of authors just as people, but this has caused me to pause and think.
"Work", the scourage of the drinking classes.
Yes, some of us still have to endure it. Others make fun of us from the sidelines.
I believe I have found the full version of "The Mask of Dimitrios" film on Youtube. I am starting to read the book today and will watch the film when I am finished. I love films of that era and I really love Peter Lorré in films.
“Why do I let the toad Work
Squat on my life?”
>157 pgmcc: I guess I'd better get cracking on The Kingdom of Copper...
This is a fairly standard tale of the supernatural involving a house inherited from an aunt who practiced black magic, four companions, one of whom owns the house, decided to stay in the house for a night.
”Now, at last, he felt very frightened indeed, much more frightened than the character in the book he felt.”
I am sorry I only say your post now. I hope to finish my current read today. I was considering what to read next and it was a choice between Prisoners of Geography and Weapons of Math Destruction. I brought the latter with me, but I will start the Prisoners of Geography first so that I can give you an opinion. The concept of the book intrested me while I was browsing in the airport bookshop. I did not have time to delve too deeply and had not hear anything about it before. I can see how it could fall into the failings you mentioned. I will give you my initial impressions in the coming days.
A very good read nonetheless.
Forty years ago I was pretty niffty with numbers. I loved statistics and mathmatical models. I could look at a plot of data and have a good idea of what type of mathematical function would be appropriate, make a stab at the formula, and use statistical tools to test the goodness of fit. Chi-Squared was my only love.
Now-a-days I have to take my time calculating my change in a shop and am a bit worried that Weapons of Math Destruction might expose further decay in my ability to do mental arithmetic. The work that I have done in the intervening decades has required little or no mathematical skill or knowledge. I remember being disgusted in my first job as a computer programmer when I was told that the wonderful subroutine I had developed in DIBOL (Digital's version of COBOL) for calculating a square-root would never be needed and was not therefore to be added to the company's library of useful subroutines. Having come from a scientific background and used FORTAN on a daily basis I was shocked and had to sit down. Talk about being disillusioned.
I started Prisoners of Geography today. I read the Foreword written by the head of MI6. (Talk about ttying to impress.) it was nothing more than an endorsement.
Now I am reading the 31 page introduction. If the introduction is anything to judge by this book might live up to the description you quoted for his other books. I will carry on into the body of the work to give him a fair trial. Then I will execute him.
I was browsing Hodges Figgis bookshop yesterday. There was a table on which were displayed several books on literary criticism, writing, and grammar. One of the books, "Into the Woods: How stories work and why do we tell them" (Subtitle in the U.S. is "A Five-Act Journey Into Story". I do not know which subtitle is used in Canada.), is one I enjoyed immensely and have discussed it here several times.
As I shifted my attention to books on another part of the table someone picked up the top copy of Into the Woods. I thought to myself, "I hope she buys that. She will be in for a treat."
She put it back on the pile.
My heart sank. She was depriving herself of a great book by someone who is very knowledgeable in the field and who has a no bullshit approach to his topic.
"That is an excellent book," I told her.
"Is it?" she asked in an Eastern European accent.
I went on to describe the content and how it covered stories of all sorts and the telling of them in all forms of media; novels, fairy-tales, films, etc...
She said that it was something she would be very interested in and said she would buy it.
Then she said, "You have given me a recommendation; now I will give you one."
She brought me to the fiction shelving (which covers three walls of quite a large room. @Haydeninvienna knows the place. It is where we met up on his visit to Dublin.) and plucked Flights by Olga Tokarczuk from its shelf and put it into my hand.
"This is a wonderful book. It won the Man Booker Prize."
She was so full of enthusiasm I took the book and am looking forward to reading it.
I am only sorry we did not exchange some form of contact details so we could let one another know how we got on with each other's respective recommendations.
Melmoth by Sarah Perry slipped into my hand as I was heading to the till. There are a couple of reasons I picked it up. Firstly, and this is my self justification element as opposed to the non-rational purchase impulse aspect of the transaction, Perry claims to have been inspired to write this story by reading Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, a book I read and loved and have been threatening to write an essay (I would say "review" but I have so much to say about it I have to admit it would be an essay) on since I finished it, and I have been curious about how good or bad a job she did of the task. When the book came out I noticed that a new edition of Melmoth the Wanderer came out at the same time with and introduction by Sarah Perry. This put me off as I thought the new edition of MoW was simply a tactic to associate her new, shiny, much shorter book, with MoW and Charles Maturin. For that reason I did not by Perry's Melmoth at that time.
Secondly, the copy of Perry's book I picked up yesterday is smaller and handier than the original format and it jumped up and shouted, "Hey, Peter! You were going to buy this at some stage. Now would be a good time. You are heading to the till and you are only carrying one book. Wouldn't it look better if you had a second book. The other book is a recommendation from a stranger you just met and if she sees you buying only one book and it is the book she recommended she might feel she has forced you into spending money just to be polite."
With such persuasive arguments how could I possibly resist?
What you should have given your recommendatory lady was a brief but forceful description of LT.
An intelligent murder mystery entangled with espionage and presented in a beautiful noir atmosphere. Written shortly before the outbreak of WWII this book includes all the confusion of a Europe still recovering from turmoil of WWI and of displaced people trying to build life for themselves amid the tenseness of national governments uncertain of what the future holds. This is the first Eric Ambler story I have read but it will not be the last.
That review was something I threw together to get a positive message out about this story. I loved this novel. Eric Ambler was obviously extremely intelligent and he understood not just the motivation of individuals but the working of governments, corporate entities, and criminals. This book is full of philosophy and it challenges the reader to question what is right and what is wrong, or whether these words have any meaning at all. It reminded me of the cartoon in which a young boy tells his father that he is going to go into a life in organised crime for a career. His father's response is to ask, "Public or Private sector?"
I am certain someone in the Green Dragon mentioned Ambler before. I cannot remember who it was but I support anything they say about his writing being good and well worth investing time in.
I have read the sections on Russia and China. Currently reading the section on the USA.
I am finding it interesting and informative. The content falls into the category of "common sense" but if you haven't thought about the topic will be new to you.
I find it is dealt with at what I would call a documentary level. It is not an academic book but it is interesting. While the premise is that geography dictates the actions of nations the content shows that it strongly influences a nation's actions, but that other factors will influence the nation's actions or success its success with those actions.
Obviously pinches of salt must be taken with each bite sized piece.
As with everything one reads this book requires a sceptical mind to challenge points and establish the truth. I am still enjoying the book. It is filling some gaps in my knowledge, but where it presents opinion I am looking on it as a viewpoint rather than definite fact.
I am reading the section on Africa at the moment.
As I said earlier, it is a documentary level book and should be considered as such. The documentary presenter obviously has views on the world so his inferences, often stated as facts, need to be complemented with some consideration and questioning.
That, of course, is better than ignorance (such is true of myself for a number of them), but he seemed to mistake his superficial overview for genuine understanding - which made me wary as to how misleading the sections were on fields about which I know little or nothing.
I took it as a valuable reminder of the fallibility of our news reporting. It is not necessary to postulate any deliberate attempt to deceive: skimming this made me aware of how wide a poor reporter's area of "expertise" is expected to be - and hence the likely limits to the actual insight possessed.
As you say, bias is everywhere and unavoidable; it it best acknowledged and openly expressed. I am less tolerant of opinion when conflated with, and stated as fact.
It was very interesting and I will tell more at a later date.
I'm not sure that I have time to spare for someone whose oversight or lack of knowledge will drive me up the wall...
Some of his sections are being overtaken by events as I read them. This edition was published in 2019. His comments on the Kurds is fairly up-to-date as he says they are in the process of being abandoned. The past month has done a lot to date his comments on the Middle East and the UK. His comments on the Kurds and Syria are however proving quite prophetic. He has certainly predicted the Turkish involvement, which some say would not be very difficult to predict.
He also presented the USA as losing interest in the Middle East due to having discovered and started to exploit the oil-shale reserves back home. His argument is that the USA has its own home-grown energy reserves and as such is happy to leave Syria and other Middle Eastern countries to Russian influence. This concept also indicates that there is not going to be any great motivation for the US government to hold back on fracking and to protect the environment. If anything, his argument is supporting the old isolationist strategy of the US and reliance on its own resources. This would explain several actions of the current US government.
Above comments are description of book content and inferences drawn from such. They are not promoting or denigrating any particular political viewpoint or actions.
Marsh's Library is the second oldest working library in Europe. It is an amazing place and, of course, has its own ghosts.
Several famous people worked in this library including Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and other Gothic works, and Charles Maturin, author of Melmoth the Wanderer.
At one stage in its history the library keeper realised some books were missing. As a library that did not lend books to the public, but rather facilitated people's reading of the books on the premises and only people who have been vouched for as good and proper people to use the library, it was quite a shock that some books were missing. From that time on the library recorded the visitors to the library and the books they read. As a result, the current keeper of the library was able to identify seven dates on which Bram Stoker visited the library and what he read on those occasions.
Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, has been doing a lot of research into Bram's work and his research. By looking at Bram's notes and the books he read in Marsh's Library, he was able to identify a second source for the name "Dracula". To date one source in Whitby library has been identified as containing the name, but now we have a second.
There were many such gems in the talk and Dacre related the finds to other finds in the London library.
All-in-all it was a pleasant evening with an audience of about thrity people who were all interested in Dracula and Bram Stoker.
Having had the talk it was fascinating to make our way back through the old library and browse the exhibition that is currently on display. The exhibition consists of a number to display cabinets showing the books Bram Stoker referenced during his visits to the library. Each one is open for inspection and a card beside it states the date on which Bram accessed the volume and gives information about the type of thing it contains that has found its way into Dracula or one of his other stories.
On a general point, Marsh's Library is a must visit site for any bilbiophile visiting Dublin. You can access the library's website by clicking here.
Looking at you, Haydninvienna, if you haven't already been there.
ETA: I see now that yes it is.
The library forbids the taking of photographs but its website provides plenty of images of the inside of the building and the books therein.
In addition, if you are a fan of "Foyle's War" you might be interested to know that the Marsh's Library was used as the location for filming meetings with a German spy in the season in which Foyle is recruited by MI5. That episode also has a scene in which a car explodes that was filmed opposite my wife's family home.
I received my pre-ordered copy of John Le Carré's latest novel, Agent Running in the Field and was disappointed to see the dustcover so badly damaged. The book is winging its way back to Amazon and a replacement copy is due to be shipped.
The worst thing about returning an item is the fact that some overworked underpaid warehouse operative is probably going to suffer for this damage, rather than the Amazon executives who are driving costs to the bottom without consideration for staff or quality.
I have noticed Amazon reducing packing costs by moving from bubble-wrap to paper, and now no paper, only tightly fitting packaging.
Rant over for this morning.
>229 pgmcc: Oh, sounds like a must-visit!
>237 pgmcc: Wow, that's just terrible! But as you say in >239 pgmcc:, some poor soul will probably have to suffer for a decision that probably was devised by someone who knows nothing about logistics but everything about financial KPI's...
(I realise that this last part is on the verge of being too political for the pub, but really, Amazon...)
That said, I have never received a book as badly damaged as yours.
My pet peeve with Amazon is that they never pack their Pantry orders well. So it is quite common for a bleach bottle to become loose and leak its contents. Amazon then replaces the defective bottle, but often insists that the food and skincare items, whose packaging is now soused in bleach, are safe to use, and refuses to replace.
They had an interim solution between bubble-wrap and crushed up brown paper. I suppose you could call it buble-wrap but bubles were about the same size as most books.
I deliberately try to avoid Amazon. In the mid-90's they were great, I found so many books that were unavailable to me from Swedish retailers. It was even worth every 3rd order getting stuck in customs with 25% tax getting added (this was when Amazon was an US-based operation). Now I want to support local businesses as far as I can.
>241 pgmcc: Well, some people think that is how the world ought to be run, so... but I do agree with you.
I am of course referring to digital bits. More seriously, I haven’t really had any packaging problems with Amazon, but I can’t think of too many easily-damaged things I’ve ordered. I don’t really order many liquids or pantry items because in my area most things I’ve compared have been more cheaply available at my local grocery store. I’ve ordered a fair number of electronic things over the years, but they’re always well packed by the manufacturer already so that it doesn’t really matter too much how Amazon dumps it in the shipper carton.
I would just like auto-dissolving boxes. I want the boxes to vanish after I unpack the product. I hope somebody is working on that.
Using double crutches makes carrying groceries back myself not a viable alternative - at least until I have mastered growing some extra limbs!
I am not fond of Amazon:s business model. But they do provide a service that other suppliers have withdrawn.
But overpacking is a separate issue. It is wasteful, as well as making breakages more likely.
I personally use the pickup option at my local grocery store (Kroger), which works well for me. For an extra $5 I can order all my groceries online, which takes mere seconds for items that I purchase regularly and allows me to browse options for other things from the comfort of my home when I want to try something new. Then they collect the groceries, bag them all up, and dump them in my trunk for me when I show up at the scheduled time. I know a lot of people would rather pick out their own produce, but I don't consider myself a very good produce-picker-outer, so I think they do a better job than I would. They allow you to specify whether substitutions are allowed for each item, which I usually allow and have had the chance to try some new things that way. In theory they will text you ahead of time with proposed substitutions so you can accept/reject them, but they haven’t gotten that process fully hammered out yet. Otherwise, you can accept/reject when they bring the groceries to your car and let you know if they had to substitute anything. They have a delivery option also, but it’s a bit pricier ($15 I think, plus tip) and not something I personally need so I’ve stuck with the pickup option.
And I have mostly given up on ordering fresh produce to be delivered by my local store. They routinely send me the stuff which is in 1 day if it's "use by" date. Home deliveries are a convenient way for them to make use of the produce that customers actually in the shop are unlikely to select.
I regret the passing of the genuine local corner shop, where they knew you personally, and so knew which items in your weekly shop were essential, and so ordered them in for you.
I suppose the other point is that, however annoying Amazon may be, they do provide a niche service that their competitors don't.
I do not use home delivery for groceries often, but when my wife is away on holiday with the car I do not have much option. I use Tesco. I generally ask for no substitutions but forgot to tick that box last night. Yes, I ordered last night for delivery tonight. Yes, this does mean my wife is away on holiday with the car. At this very moment she is somewhere between Cherbourg and Caen with my youngest acting as navigator.
I have to say that the service is convenient. The delivery people are always pleasant and very willing to bring the boxes to wherever I want them put.
As my grandma used to say; it takes all sorts to make a world.
They will not risk behaving that way with a customer who is likely to respond by lodging a complaint and cancelling their dealings with the company. Or even with someone who might respond by getting in their face and retaliating with equally aggressive behaviour.
So, that small minority who need to bully someone else in order to feel less powerless themselves, will choose the disabled woman to vent their temper on, because they can see clearly that I am reliant on their services.
in this example, they know that I will still have to place another order next month, regardless - and as long as I don't actually stop ordering, their bosses will not care how many complaints they receive. Aggression towards me is therefore a low risk substitute behaviour, whereas yelling at their boss (or even an average q customer) could be expected to have consequences.
I don't think that they hate me more than the rest of their customers. I am just the one towards whom they can express their temper with impunity.
This is my second Eric Ambler, Journey Into Fear. It is living up to the flavour and atmosphere of the first, which was, The Mask of Dimitrious.
The image of the cover is nice but I have a difficulty with it. I am reading this on the Kindle app and the cover is no more than an electronic image. I still long for a physical book with this cover on it. I am such a traditionalist.