Sunday, 27 March 2011

Weekend in the Fens

So I've not posted anything in a while - but have been plenty busy reading books (inc. Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoirs and The Leopard), and doing a variety of work-related stuff in what should be my spare time. I've been working late to sort out official correspondence, watching Thick of It and Yes Minister to distract myself from the gym and then spending the odd evening watching Secret World of Whitehall on the excellent BBC4.

And then this weekend we went to Cambridge. Just in time to see Oxford whip them all over the Thames (Isis and the Blue boat - come on). And to eat some fine food with some fab friends. And drink a little. Time to pull my socks up I think and get back with the programme.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Long Time, No See

So I just completed my first 'Early Reviewers' book - Long Time, No See by Dermot Healy. The blurb on the back describes him as 'the finest prose writer at work in Ireland today' and describes the book as 'A novel about community, family, love and bonds across generations, Long Time, No See is an epic in miniature, peopled by a cast of innocents and broken misfits, its still lyrical power casts a miraculous literary spell.'

The dialogue is hard to penetrate - and whereas books like Clockwork Orange or The Inheritors suck you in - I felt like this book was aiming for something more Pinter-esque with apparently unrelated and banal dialogue meant to convey emotion, drama and depth. If it wasn't for Early Reviewers, this would have been a five-page-rant book. But I persevered - and so I got to know the characters and events. It passed the time and there were moments of lyricism, but I wasn't sucked into a sense of place or time, I didn't care that much about the characters, and the plot didn't really work for me. 

If I were to recommend it to anyone, I'd go for someone who knows and likes the countryside/life in a small community, and someone who's up for a slightly slower read and happy to sift through the dialogue to appreciate the drama and character sitting behind it.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Tiger Hills

I picked up Tiger Hills because it had an attractive cover, and bought it because it had an interesting blurb, was recommended by the TV Book Club and was only £4 from the bookpeople stall at work. Twenty pages in, I thought - ugh, is this trying to be a new Suitable Boy? 

100 pages in and I was well and truly hooked - and it kept me gripped to the end. It's an Indian story of a little girl and boy who grow up together, the terrible events of their teens which wrecks their relationship for decades, and the way it reverberates through the next generation(s). Above all its a story about favourites (and presumed favourites), and about mothers.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Maybe it's because we're Londoners...

A little girl aged 4 or 5, reading her homework book on the morning bus to school. Ribbed tights, royal blue sweatshirt, matching bands on her braids.

She was reading 'Ben and Lad' from the Ginn readers series - I remember my little bro reading it maybe 20 years. And she was really enjoying the pictures and chatting to herself about the story, doing a bit of reading in between. Her mum was lovely, interested in what little girl was saying and telling her how well she was doing.

And then the girl started to stumble - she got confused between not and no, didn't get the point of the letter 't' making it different and then got in a fluster about not being able to tell that 'hello' was the same word when it appeared later on the same page. She got tearful about forgetting the word, but wasn't going to let her mum put the book back in the bookbag. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Towers in the mist

7am this morning. Mist over the Peninsula, Thames and Isle of Dogs - and the early morning sun tinted it shades of blue, grey and pink with a fine white line just where the mist gave way for bright blue sky.

Over in the distance the tallest towers of Canary Wharf rising above - I LOVE how exciting Docklands is, so tall, gleaming and modern! and I wonder what it's like on one of the lower floors, looking out into the cloud...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Ten great posts that I've read in the last few days

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A story without words

The Royal Ballet's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is their first new full length ballet with new music in over 20 years - and it is brilliant. I'd strongly recommend to anyone who likes ballet, enjoyed the book and/or appreciates superb stage/costume design - and there are loads of cheap seats if you book ahead (£5 in the upper slips...)

They've captured the story, the specific scenes and the sense of fun and punning - but entirely through dance. And they've snuck in some funny inter-textual (or inter-dansual?) jokes too.

Also - watch out for Simon Russell Beale as Duchess.