Tuesday, 19 February 2008

One of those moments

Walking home tonight across Hungerford Footbridge I had a moment when I saw my Dad walking towards me. Hungerford Footbridge is not somewhere I would expect to see my Dad especially as he died nearly five years ago. But for a heartbeat it was as if he were still here and all the pain and suffering of his last few months on earth were erased. Just for a heartbeat.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

More reading!

On reading, commuting is not necessarily conducive to good or easy reading - being short I spent one journey this week protecting my neck from the elbow of the tall man determined to read his paper in a packed train - yes I am that short - he was, of course, completely oblivious to my plight, so my reading time has been curtailed, but here goes.

I love the VI Warshawski novels and this one is no exception. VI's cousin Boom Boom has been found dead floating in the Chicago docks, VI believes he was murdered and sets out to find out why and how. This book was originally written in the early 1980s and has dated a little because of the advances in technology. VI is an engagingly driven character, almost a female Sam Spade, and, unlike some, I like her feminism and her toughness. Also the narrative skips along nicely to the resolution and there are some interesting surprises and plot twists along the way - I certainly wasn't expect the final scene in this book.

Back to Agatha Christie. This is the first collection of published short stories. The stories are all narrated by Captain Hastings as Watson to Poirot's Holmes. They are an interesting bunch, mainly because they herald themes, such as natural justice, as well as some of the plot twists, that Christie reprised in her later work. Its not the best of her collected stories but still a worthwhile read.

This is another Christie that is slightly off piste. This is a fun frothy novel and is everything that The Secret Adversary wasn't. It is very much a novel of its time, and very concerned with the upper classes, and is a reworking of the country house murder mystery but with strong romantic overtones. This is a novelist coming into her craft and having fun with characters and story. Its an interesting break from the true detective story, especially when you know about the novel that came next, that in its time transformed and subverted detective fiction!


Sorry for not being around much at the moment, having had a very quiet few months workwise everyone of my clients seems to have woken up and want my services, which is fantastic for my bank balance, but is killing the rest of my life - somehow I need to write 42 lines of poetry by the end of the month, I have fragments but not a lot more and I am definitely not a poet, Cailleach is staying with me over the weekend before her gig at the Pipe and Slippers hmm, run Cailleach, run while you can.

While I've been away I received a couple of awards from the lovely Belle:

Which came with the following It’s a big kiss, of the chaste, platonic kind, from me to you with the underlying ‘thanks’ message implied. I really do appreciate your support and your friendship, and yes, your comments.’ Ahhh...

Which also came with something: I love being a part of the blogging community and part of all the friendships that I've formed so I wanted to give a blog award for all of you out there that have Excellent Blogs. By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10.

So this is going straight back to Belle and to Cailleach and Brunhilde because they are all putting up with my whingeing about not having enough work/having too much work etc etc oh yes and having to read my poetry. Debi Alper, because she is a great writer, activist and all round wonderwoman; the Inner Minx as I love her book and want the sequel NOW; Tina because her blog makes me laugh and because forty is the new thirty; to Rainbow because, well I've said it already, but CONGRATULATIONS; Chief Biscuit who doesn't even know I read her blog but because she is a poet who lives in a part of the world I adore and want to live in, and because I'm not holiding it against her that the albatross were out when I visited the sanctuary she works at, if you ever visit Dunedin go its worth it, even if there isn't a single albatross in sight; to Mid Lifer and Single Mother on the Verge just because.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

More Comfort Reading...

I'm afraid that I had to give up on The Book Thief, its rare for me to abandon a book, but I found the interjections from Death really annoying. If you want a literary version of Death, try Terry Pratchett's, sheer heaven! I'm aware that this book is riding high in the bestseller charts and I do wonder if part of my problem is that I was trying to read another book about Germany during WWII too close to my reading Richard Zimler's superb The Seventh Gate . I haven't completely abandoned The Book Thief as I never walk away from a book, I will have another go, when I am in a better mind set - more of that later.

So I turned to this,the follow up to Silent as the Grave and just like its predecessor its a fun novel that doesn't take itself too seriously and sends up various literary conventions, especially Gothic romance. Every chapter is preceded by a quote from Shakespeare - Lady Julia's father is a Shakespearian scholar - which just adds depth to the fun. I love novels like this.

I've working as a locum for three or four days a week at a large company for the next month or so. Its a welcome boost for my finances, but its going to be a hard couple of months as my other consultancy work has also increased, so I may not be around as much as I have been over the last few months, but I am still around. The big bonus of this locum work is that its on the South Bank and, as the weather has been so good, I've spent every lunchtime sitting by the river watching the world go by, whilst avoiding the Book Market, as I used up my monthly book buying quota on Saturday buying far too many books, including two collections of poetry I have lusted after for a while, Sylvia Plath Collected Poems and Frank O'Hara Collected Poems, sheer bliss.

As I am so busy, its comfort reading all the way. Although can I hear you cry 'not another Agatha Christie', well there are 84 of them, not including the plays and the Mary Westmacott's, so Christie's will be liberally scattered through my reading over the next couple of months. This book was directly inspried by an Empire Tour taken by Agatha and Arthur Christie, and colonial South Africa and Rhodesia take centre stage in the novel. Its also surpising that this was first published in 1924 as its heroine, Anne Beddingfield, is depicted as a modern, liberated, adventerous woman, who falls in love with a man who is best described as a combination of Heathcliff, Rochester and Darcy. This is an adventure story rather than a detective story and really is a ripping yarn.