Thursday, July 10, 2014

bus books time

hi there

well, i have a suspicious tummy and a severe (is there any other kind) bout of man flu, so i am not at all sure i should be getting up to any sort of internet dickery right now. let me start this, at the least, and see if it makes me feel better. if not, i suppose i can do that whole save as draft thing and do it another day.

i have, as of yesterday as point of fact, completed another three novels on the bus - reading three, not writing - and so it is time for some further class review action for you. i still have no idea at all if anyone has a use for these reviews, but no matter, thanks for reading for whatever reason you do.

want a quick gander at the titles i have read in the last couple of weeks? with them once again on a background of Star Wars bedding? sure, why not.

we do have other bedding i assure you; it's just that this seems to be on as and when i have finished off three novels, go figure.

a short and fast review of these novels, if that is all you want, would be that (in order) the first two are OK but nothing special, and the last one should be avoided unless you have a most ardent and unusual wish to really, really punish yourself in the most terrible terms possible.

for those of you wishing a more detailed look, well then here you go, read on.

if you are looking at the cover of Give Us This Day by Jonathan Tulloch and thinking that does not seem like the sort of thing that i would usually read on the bus, or anywhere, you would be right. however, it was a gift off of a dear friend that is a huge advocate of my bus reading adventures. if they felt i should be reading it then i felt like i should.

it's one of them "serious" novels, and it's one that happens to be set in and around that place on earth that i call home. well, close enough. it's all very much of that symbolic, sparse nature that one associates with "serious" novels, the kind of thing that wins one all sorts of praise and awards if they present it in a certain tone, as is the case here, but makes you dizzy and confused if you present it in a different tone, as is the case and we shall very much see just now, or a little bit later on, when we get to the monstrosity of a "novel" that is/was Blitz.

basically, this novel is a Sixth Former's dream. a Priest doubting his faith, a Priest caught in a sexual situation of the homo kind, a Priest in jail for molestation, a Nun refusing treatment for cancer, a salty sea dog who may or may not be a criminal, illegal immigrant workers with broken English, a prostitute with a heart of gold, a prostitute with a mouth of filth, a silent tramp that turns out to be a great artist. yep, all here.

it has been a while since i did all that "serious literature" study and analysis, and i will confess to being somewhat rusty with it all. basically, you would read this to do some very easy A Level or 1st year University essays, as it allows you to show off examples of how the author "evokes" this that and the other with scenery, descriptions and all that. this action is symbolic of that, that gesture is symbolic of this, death and illness comes to represent unrequited or impossible expressions of love; all that sort of thing.

someone somewhere would read this for a level of enjoyment and pleasure, most likely those that really, really like them fancy, la-de-dah soppy knob, mother my dog type of serious (i.e. dull) drama things BBC 2 or Channel 4 does once in a while, usually as a brazen and very, very welcome excuse to show off some class rudey nudey action and get away with it as it is all "artistic". i think it might be somewhat obvious, dear reader, at this stage that i did not enjoy it as such, but i certainly very much appreciated the written style, and one or two moments in it were of interest. a big thumbs up, and there should be a spoiler warning i suppose, for sort of throwing a quasi-cliffhanger, murder/mystery thing into the mix with about five pages to go, by the way.

if you are aware of some poncy, prattling person who bangs on about the importance and grandeur of serious literature, this is a spot on gift to throw at them. which kind of makes me wonder about the statement being made about me by the giver of the gift, but no matter.

i had valid reason to take a random "outside" picture today, so i might as well just throw it in here now for your viewing interest.

is the above art? well, that's up to you, really. i did really just need to get my hands on a sort of "landscape" picture at verk earlier today, and this did the job. no hidden message or statement being made at all; this was simply as far as i could be bothered to walk to take one.

onwards, then, to the world of Bond, James Bond.

this was another gift, this time in the form of a Father's Day present. one that i selected, but obviously did not know about until Father's Day rolled around.

i seem to recall a degree of fuss was made around the launch of this Solo novel,  with there being some sort of merriment, song and dance about how it was an "officially commissioned" novel, and was to "stay true" to the vision the original author, Ian something, had for the character of Bond.

this is good, yet this is bad. this will upset some of you, perhaps, but there is a very harsh truth in this world (in my opinion, etc) and that would be that the Fleming novels were entertaining, but they were also very flimsy and not really very good books at all. to this extent, this William Boyd chap has got the spirit of the original novels spot on. then. so that's good and bad - good if you for some reason really loved the original novels, bad if like me you are astonished at the longevity and entertainment of the films in the face of the basis of them.

and yet i seek not to slay or write off the novel, for i thoroughly enjoyed reading the adventure. but there's no hiding the fact that it is all very flimsy and threadbare - details kept to a minimum, scant detail ever given, convenient plot devices conjured up to resolve matters in moments, that sort of thing. the stuff that gets very low grade Dan Brown rip-offs such terrible reviews is, for some reason, supposed to be celebrated and appreciated here.

i read this in the course of two and a half days of bus travels, which amounts to, what, somewhere under three hours of sit down travel. that flimsy, then. and yet, if the price is right, i would not hesitate to recommend it. it is, after all, still a Bond adventure, and a really good one, it featuring made up African countries, sex, oil, disfigured villains, sex, cheeky one liners and, of course, sex.

before we move on to what is quite possibly the worst novel to exist in the modern world - the kind of book that you wouldn't have minded if it was lost from history in the destruction of the library of Alexandria - i am sure i mentioned somewhere this week that last weekend i invested in some new threads. if i did not, well, last weekend i invested in some new threads.

here's a look at some of them, two if you insist on accuracy, chosen to show off here as i shall be wearing them tomorrow, it being a Friday and what have you.

although they were bought off of a sale rack, they were of a price that i would normally baulk at, but impulse and instinct got the better of me. that, after all, is a purple Lambretta shirt, the kind that The Who would wear, and those strides are indeed of the black jeans variety, and feature my much loved button fly style rather than some sort of ghastly, ghastly bourgeois zip system for fastening up and whatever else it is supposed to do. there shall be a little bit more on both throughout the rest of this blog post, presented as a means for exposing you to knowledge of this next, last novel of the three that i read. and oh hell yes i saved the worst until last.

the gift that this book was happens to have been well intentioned. my friend saw some comments about the Statham here, combined this with the purchase of a DVD with him in (that unwatched In The Name Of The King thing) and assumed that this novel, Blitz, would be an apt purchase. can't fault the thinking, so do not feel bad, gift giver.

as it turns out, a novel which is deemed good enough to be turned into a film starring a latter-day Jason Statham is not as good as it could be. imagine, to use a case from earlier this week, a novel that was considered good enough to be filmed with a post-1994 Gary Busey in it. would you rush to watch that, or read the novel which served to inspire it? i think you are getting the point here. as much as i like the lad, and i really do love a few of his films, saying "my novel was so good that i could persuade Statham to be in it" is a bit like saying, in the present day, "my film was so good that Jedward agreed to do the soundtrack for it". yes, a well known name, but no, the reputation is not what it was, or what it could have been.

a closer gander at my new strides for you, then, if for some reason you are interested.

i think they are called Hamnet Gold or King Hamnet, or something like that. all i know is they are black, they have button fly, and they are of an accommodating size of which my arse will very much appreciate. quite a "win", as you crazy kids today say.

does Blitz have a plot? it thinks it does, at the least. it exists in a world where all cops in London are either corrupt, violent, incompetent, stupid, prone to drug addiction and needing rehab within 24 hours of first taking drugs, gay or a stylish combination of all of the above. there is not one redeeming good copper described in the book.

and yet, dear reader, we are supposed to assume and accept that the great British public, some of whom get murdered "by accident" by the coppers mentioned, are up in arms and outraged when a character wakes up one day and, for no real given reason or motivation, decides to become a most brutal and vicious of serial killer and starts killing coppers at random, and with no trace or clues left. all of this is, i suppose, not impossible, but it is surely and very sorely implausible. the complete lack of any halfway decent, redeemable character in the face of a whole whack of dull, dreary cliche riddled ones made for some really, really painful reading.

bearing in mind that this was all;

in the Third person narrative form of prose, it

-made it even worse reading that randomly the text starts going like this,

suggesting that the novel was in a note stage when it went to print.

And the author forgot to go back and finish it all off, or edit it, or anything like that. if all or even so much as just one of the books this Ken Bruen, whose main claim to fame seems to have been that he was one in jail in Mexico or Brazil or something, has written feature a similar style, i cannot comprehend how any of his stuff has ever been published. it must be some sort of elaborate joke, or a post-modernist sort of statement thing that i have clearly missed.

i am somewhat tempted to obtain the film of this, just to see if they have made the characters and the plots as outlandishly bad and as less-than-one dimensional as they are in this novel. the greater temptation, however, is to not get the film, and to try never again to think of this novel after this blog post has finished.

i am not at all sure what value or weight my opinion counts for with anyone, but i am someone who managed to get all the way through the horrid Inferno by Dan Brown and i would rather read all of that again with a smile on my face than read so much as a single sentence off of Blitz ever again. avoid.

what will i do with my copy of Blitz? don't know. i suspect it may end up donated to one of the places here which sell second hand books to raise funds. i fear that might put people off reading ever again, though. maybe i will just post it to Spiros.

anyway, here is a closer look, or if you like gander, at my smart new Lambretta shirt. yes, it's purple for the most part and yes it was gosh golly expensive.

this is, however, the sort of shirt that Daltrey, or Keith Moon, or perhaps even Harry Nilsson, would wear when they were off out and about around town. it's just banging and very smart it is, to me and in my mind at the least, hence me purchasing it.

will it enhance or improve the way i look? well, it could, surely, not make me look any worse at all than i presently look in the eyes of the world, which is nice. although, strangely, one or two people have started striking up conversations with me on the bus. presumably this comes from a sense of monotony and the frequency with which i am seen on the bus at the same time each day, but still, it's a lovely thing to happen. if my smart new shirt inspires a chat, well then so much the better.

onwards and away i go, then, having competed writing this post but not feeling too good.

except that sneak previews of the next books are something of a bit of a thing here, so let me leave you with an image of the book i am reading now.

very, very good it has been so far. very good indeed.

hope this has been of interest or help to someone in some way or another!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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