Friday, September 11, 2015

the books of bedtime

hello there

it's been said before and i shall no doubt say it again (other than here, look you see), but one of the saddest things, for me, about them taking the buses away as a viable means of going to and from verk is that i have lost my reading time. whereas i could read at least a book a week, now it's one a month or thereabouts. this will remain the case until the constabulary relax their views on what you can and cannot do whilst driving.
hey ho, you are not really interested in my plight, or my totes first world drama about not being able to read as much as i did. no, i wager you want to see what books it is that i have read, and what i thought of them.

oh, great. Apple and Blogger are at each other's throats again, so the orientation is way off on this first picture; a picture i even took in non-Predator and non-Commodore 64 mode.

the usual, spoiler-free insights as a means of a short review for those of you in a rush? Us is pretty much the most English Middle Class thing ever to exist, and i am unsure if i actually liked it or not. Haunted is the slimmest James Herbert novel i have read thus far, but by no means is it lacking as a consequence.

for those in a rush, or not wishing to have any spoilers for novels, now is the time for you to leave. thank you very much indeed for taking what time you did to read this. for everyone else, let's go on, and in case you missed the subtle hints, be warned, for *** POSSIBLE SPOILERS LIKELY AHEAD  ***

as usual, links are certainly not an endorsement or some sort of affiliation deal i have on the go, it's just for ease of reference for you. 

and yes, i agree, this post would very much indeed benefit from looking at the covers of these novels as if we were the Predator off of Predator and were for some reason looking for something to read.

i read Us after being "encouraged" to do so by my Auntie (no, the other one) for several months. in fact i think literally seven months. it was, as you can see, half price at the cigarette counter at Morrisons, so i gave in.

plot? a middle class couple are planning a "last family holiday away" before their teenage son heads off to University. it will be final in another way, however, as the wife of the narrator has announced she is "probably" leaving him after the holiday. which leaves the narrator distraught and confused.

the novel then takes the form of the narrator, whose name escapes me for the moment, trawling through the past and describing a now seemingly pointless holiday.

i mentioned above that this is easily the most Middle Class England thing which i have ever encountered. it really is the premise of a fanciful, harmless 80s sitcom, this novel. you have all the stereotypes in place - the dullard, personality free, boring profession husband, the breezy, sexually liberated, possibly air headed wife and the tortured artist, know it all 18 year old son who has, at best, a disjointed relationship with his parents. in respect of the latter, well, weren't we all at that age? they exist in the personification of the Middle Class world as portrayed in 80s sitcoms, which is to say they have steady, secured work, there are never any real money issues and they can apparently come and go and do as they please.

is the above a criticism? not really. many like to seek harbour and shelter in this idyllic, status quo to perfection sounding life. i think maybe i do to, especially as i find as i get older my musical choices are more Crowded House and Simon & Garfunkel, less angry bands telling everyone and everything to go f*** itself or themselves. novels not be gritty realism all the time; in fact for the most part they are at their best when they allow one to escape into a dream world.

it could be worse. it could be a 70s sitcom. in British 70s sitcoms is was pretty much the same as the above, only the wife was frigid and very much housebound, and the only thing that ever happened was that the boss of the husband invited himself over for tea, and best he be pleased with the casserole that his wife made him or there would be no raise / promotion. and if you are thinking that "casserole" was a euphemism for something you might find in Oriental, specifically Japanese, pornography, you would be very disappointed indeed with the reality.

i think the most frustrating part of Us is the fact that the best parts of the novel are crammed and rushed into the last ten or so pages. those pages expanded and concentrated on would, to me, make a much better novel. but then i didn't write it, and certainly nothing i have written has got the same praise or has made as many coins of money as this novel. 
every time i read a James Herbert novel i am saddened that i did not try him before now (i always assumed he was typical, pompous and stuffy English) and saddened that, of course, he is no longer with us. i am contractually obliged to point out that it was my (considerably) better half that directed me to reading his novels, suggesting as she did that i try the magnificent novel that is The Magic Cottage.

Haunted is strangely the second novel i have read which has this name, the other being of course the Chuck Palahniuk one. the James Herbert one, it is safe to say, somewhat less warped.

plot? David Ash, a paranormal investigator with a haunted past, is summoned to prove or disprove the presence of a ghost at a crumbling old building on the outskirts of nowhere. he has, for reasons unknown to himself, been specifically requested to handle the investigation.

to say more of the plot would be, i think, to give too much away. it is, then, as i think you can work out, an "is there or is there not a ghost" story type of ghost story. and it's a very, very good one indeed. if, as indicated above, somewhat of a brief novel when compared to the others i have read by James Herbert. but, as many excellent thin and many awful long novels testify, length does not make a novel great.

i am late to the party when it comes to James Herbert, i know. if, however, like me for some reason you overlooked or ignored his work, then i am happy to say that this novel, bought off of the coffee shop at the dentist hospital in Newcastle for a bargain £2.99, is as excellent as any other he has written and is well worth your time. if you like horror, ghosts and all that sort of thing. which, as it happens, i do.

a look at the back of the books, rotated correctly, in Commodore 64 mode? sure.

so, there we have it. two novels which i was glad to have read, although it is only Haunted that i can say with certainty that i enjoyed. well, the way Us is written kept me reading it, so it's not at all as bad as i might have suggested. and, as i said, some may well like the ideal sort of life it offers up.

next book reviews? tricky. i now get very limited time to read, and the novels i have lined up all seem to be 500+ page affairs. the end of October is the likely time i shall next post reviews of novels i have read, and all things considered it might only end up being November. we shall see.

thanks for reading this, and happy reading if you select to have a gander at either or both of these!

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