January 2019 Reading Thread

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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#61
I liked it. it was refreshingly short, but pretty well packed -- I almost can't believe he'd managed to fit a whole twisty story into 150 pages. There was more ordinary detective work than tradecraft, which knocked a star off, but I'd recommend it. And this might be a personal thing, But I really appreciated how Smiley/le Carre occasionally went through everything they knew so far -- for me, this kept the confusion at bay, but wasn't done so often as to be repetitive. I have A Murder of Quality lined up next.
We are in agreement, except that I'm not too bothered about it being detective work rather than tradecraft - and to a certain point, it's hard to tell the difference. Where's the difference between his methods here and in TTSS?

I have to say, in terms of reading enjoyment vs page length, it might be one of my favourite books. There's better books, but few that can be read as quickly.
 

Hugh

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#62
Wanda Newby: "Peace and War". I really enjoyed this. If you've read Eric Newby's "Love and War in the Appenines", this is a memoir of those times by the young woman who helped him evade capture by German troops, subsequently married him and accompanied him on journeys such as "Slowly Down the Ganges".
She gives enchanting descriptions of growing up in a remote village in Italian Slovenia, then at age ten moving to a small village not that far from Parma, before moving on to describe the terrors of German occupation. One particular image of the idiocy of war stays with me:
Age 22 she is cycling alone down an isolated country lane when she becomes aware that she has the attention of an allied aircraft pilot. She assumes at first that he is admiring her, then is horrified to find him machine gunning her (and missing). When she dives into a ditch he makes two more circuits, each time trying to finish her off (and missing again). so pointless.
 

Randy M.

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#63
The Annotated Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

I'm about 30 pages from the end. Chandler, in spite of his flaws, is an old favorite of mine, and this new edition with its informative (and sometimes opinionated) notations is an engaging read that has pointed out some motifs and fictional tactics that I'm not sure I consciously noted in previous readings. Further, illustrations, biographical and background information on the time and place -- Los Angeles is as much a character in Chandler's novels as Philip Marlowe -- offer a rich context for the action and attitude of the novel. As an added plus, the editors include information about the transfer of the novel to screen in the Bogart/Bacall vehicle directed by Howard Hawks.

Randy M.
 

HareBrain

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#64
We are in agreement, except that I'm not too bothered about it being detective work rather than tradecraft - and to a certain point, it's hard to tell the difference. Where's the difference between his methods here and in TTSS?
Hmm. In terms of methods, you're probably right. Thinking about it, I guess what I missed more from TTSS/SP was the Circus stuff -- that seemed less complex here. But there's plenty of superb other stuff, such as a couple of short speeches from Mrs Fennan about the relationship between the state and the individual.

For a first novel, published at the age of thirty, it's a very accomplished and mature work. Maybe four stars was a bit stingy.
 

The Big Peat

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#65
Hmm. In terms of methods, you're probably right. Thinking about it, I guess what I missed more from TTSS/SP was the Circus stuff -- that seemed less complex here. But there's plenty of superb other stuff, such as a couple of short speeches from Mrs Fennan about the relationship between the state and the individual.

For a first novel, published at the age of thirty, it's a very accomplished and mature work. Maybe four stars was a bit stingy.
I'd agree that its missing the complexity of the Circus stuff - hell, the complexity of a large cast with a lot of different motivations. Call for the Dead is very tightly wound. And I think maybe less revelatory of George Smiley as a result. Smiley is a distinctive voice, a distinctive point of view who makes idiosyncratic choices as the detective, but he's not the same evolving character that you get in the Karla trilogy.

Something that I think Le Carre is fantastic at and which he shows he was fantastic at from the beginning is the way he portrays evolving relationships. The way in which Smiley's interactions and thoughts with Mendel and Fennan change is maybe my favourite part.
 

Extollager

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#66
How I wish there were available a recording of someone with a resonant voice, like Michael Hordern, reading Sir Thomas Browne's Urn-Buriall. What a pleasure for the ear that could be.
 

Extollager

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#67
Wanda Newby: "Peace and War". I really enjoyed this. If you've read Eric Newby's "Love and War in the Appenines", this is a memoir of those times by the young woman who helped him evade capture by German troops, subsequently married him and accompanied him on journeys such as "Slowly Down the Ganges".
She gives enchanting descriptions of growing up in a remote village in Italian Slovenia, then at age ten moving to a small village not that far from Parma, before moving on to describe the terrors of German occupation. One particular image of the idiocy of war stays with me:
Age 22 she is cycling alone down an isolated country lane when she becomes aware that she has the attention of an allied aircraft pilot. She assumes at first that he is admiring her, then is horrified to find him machine gunning her (and missing). When she dives into a ditch he makes two more circuits, each time trying to finish her off (and missing again). so pointless.
Whoa! How did I miss this? Eric Newby was a "discovery of the year" for me a few years ago, including the two books you mention. I just ordered a copy of Wanda's book.

By the way: I liked reading Graham Greene's Journey without Maps concurrently with his cousin Barbara Greene's Too Late to Turn Back.

Penguin Travel Library and other literary travel books
 

Hugh

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#69
Whoa! How did I miss this? Eric Newby was a "discovery of the year" for me a few years ago, including the two books you mention. I just ordered a copy of Wanda's book.

By the way: I liked reading Graham Greene's Journey without Maps concurrently with his cousin Barbara Greene's Too Late to Turn Back.

Penguin Travel Library and other literary travel books
I'll be very surprised if you don't enjoy the Wanda Newby book. Along with the obvious connections with Eric Newby's book(s), I found the picture of life in mountainous Italian Slovenia truly memorable.

I hadn't heard of Journey without Maps. I may well read it some time. Thanks.
 
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Allegra

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#70
Reading Stephen Clarke's Merde in Europe. Lighthearted fun as usual. Published right before Brexit referendum result.

And slow reading the slow-moving but well-written Arch of Triumph by Erich M Remarque.

Also started Derren Brown's Happy - Why more to less everything is absolutely fine. To see why the hype.
 

Rodders

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#71
So I have just finished Walter Jon William’s The Accidental War. I really enjoyed the Praxis trilogy, so this was a pleasant surprise. An easy read, but too much time spent explaining about the peers, their relationships and their politics. Still, a good read and I’ll look forward to the second book in the series.

Now on to Cibola Burn (Book 4 in the Expanse).
 

RJM Corbet

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#73
Yes - like most of his books it is very good. Have you read his memoir of his childhood (Thunderbolt Kid)? I think it’s the book of his I enjoyed the most, perhaps. I’m a Bryson fan anyway, and have read all his books.
I didn't finish Thunderbolt. I might still have it around somewhere. On your recommendation I'll push on.
 

Allegra

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#74
I liked Thunderbolt, and most of his books. Haven't read At Home and the latest two: The Road to Little Dribbling and that book about one year in the America or something. Too many books too little time, we can say it again and again.
 

soulsinging

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#75
Poul Anderson: The High Crusade. A truly fun space romp, as in 1345 Sir Roger de Tournville's troops are surprised by an alien spacecraft. Many thanks for the long ago recommendation @BAYLOR.
I vaguely knew this name but had him somehow confused with Paul Kearney I think. I looked up this book and a few others and he sounds like someone I am definitely going to be checking out!
 

Bick

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#76
I liked Thunderbolt, and most of his books. Haven't read At Home and the latest two: The Road to Little Dribbling and that book about one year in the America or something. Too many books too little time, we can say it again and again.
The book whose name you’re not recalling is One Summer: 1927. It’s a belter - highly recommended.
 

Bick

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#77
Well the Agatha Christie was read in a day - it wasn’t the butler! :). Now I’ve started The Second Trip by Robert Silverberg. One of my favourite SF authors, I’ve been meaning to read this since (I think) J-Sun recommended it some time ago.
 

The Big Peat

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#79
So I ended up putting down the Bardugo (Shadows and Bone is the name) - despite enjoying the style - after hitting two occasions in ten pages where I wanted to jump into the pages and beat some sense into the characters. I honestly didn't realise it was possible to get that angry with fictional characters before.

Instead I picked up Spellslinger by De Castell. I'm not hugely taken by it so far but is good enough to keep giving it a chance.
 

Parson

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#80
So I ended up putting down the Bardugo (Shadows and Bone is the name) - despite enjoying the style - after hitting two occasions in ten pages where I wanted to jump into the pages and beat some sense into the characters. I honestly didn't realise it was possible to get that angry with fictional characters before.
I know that feeling precisely! It's stupid but I can't help myself.
 
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