January 29, 2005


Reminded by the 53 ages in Bel Canto of 253 by Geoff Ryman - a book we read early on and which rather divided us as to its worth. And then there's our house number...

January 24, 2005

Bel Canto

Nearly finished but a wonderful powerful novel, I keep on finding echoes of plots of operas hidden in there - maybe some of them are wishful thinking on my part...?

  • Carmen - echoes everywhere - and quoted in a few places.
  • Prisoners coming out to the light - Fidelio
  • The names are a web of references
  • girls appearing to be boys (Rosenkavalier?)
  • Madam Butterfly - the Japanese and the American - but the genders swapped
  • Is there an opera with [K]Cato and C[a]esar in? Google suggests Catone in Utica by Vivaldi

Continue reading "Bel Canto" »

January 17, 2005

January's book

.. a little late but the meeting was a little late! - is Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.
With a reading guide

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett should be on the list of every literate music lover. The story is riveting, the participants breathe and feel and are alive, and throughout this elegantly-told novel, music pours forth so spendidly that the reader hears it and is overwhelmed by its beauty. Ann Patchett is a special writer who has written a special book. Lloyd Moss, WXQR

Sounds as if it could be good!

January 05, 2005

My Sweet untraceable you

Female detective fiction - Sandra Scoppettone's - Lauren Laurano series. Slighly guying the conventions of the medium. Not the first time I've read this one - agreeable post-Christmas reading. I see she also has a weblog

December 24, 2004

Dog Days Glenn Miller Nights

Finished Dog Days Glenn Miller Nights, not sure about this one, I nearly gave up around page 90 after - to my mind - nothing but small talk in the previous 90 pages, decided I'd make page 100 and then I found maybe there was a narrative thread which made it worth persisting. But that's half the book with a complete thumbs down!

December 14, 2004

Bit of a silence..

..massive dose of real life has broken in, and now this machine got upgraded to Mandrake GNU/Linux 9.2. So what have I been reading - Just finished Ellen Ullman's The Bug - recommended to me by Dot Graham bit depressing for me at the moment but gives a good fictional treatment of programming obsession.

I've completed Steve Chalke's The Lost message of Jesus - IMHO very good and timely.

And then there's the new too be read pile consisting of (inter alia) Winterson's lighthousekeeping and the BATS book for the month Laurie Graham's 'Dog Days, Glenn Miller Nights' - might as well have a link to the Cheshire Library site - can't find a review anywhere at the moment! But I found this not sure where the frisbees come in!

November 25, 2004

Art and Architecture Tuscany

Nice bedside table relaxation
Had lingered by my bedside table for too long! Pleasant picture book

Miss Garnet's Angel

Wasn't sure about, wanted to like it but not sure, it felt a little contrived and I wasn't sure that I altogether got hold of it. The Toby/Tobias, Sarai/Sarah was a little too obvious. Review and interview with Vickers with book group questions The various mysteries and awakenings in Miss Garnet's Angel all play out against a Venetian backdrop that is perpetually in danger of annihilation, of being swallowed by the relentless sea tides. "Each day Venice sinks by just so much of a fraction."

November 07, 2004

Latest books

Have just finished reading Sarah Hall's book The Electric Michelangelo and in the midst of BATS latest Salley Vickers Miss Garnet's Angel, both making me think of run down slightly seedy holiday destinations. As I was born on the Lancashire coast the Hall novel had resonances though I thougt it was a bit too neatly symmetrical.

And all he could think about was the great sucking blowing sea at Morecambe Bay, how the tide travelled in and out, in and out, relentlessly, further than almost any other piece of shore on the British Isles, and faster than a grown man could outrun, like the maddening insolvency of love

October 17, 2004

The Reader

Finished the Reader - very powerful and moving book, strongly recommended! Reflections - I hope - to follow. Now starting on the Piers McGrandle Trevor Huddleston biography - where I recommend the letter in last week's Church Times! - mainly (the reading of the Huddleston book!) for the Rowan Williams piece on racism for next weeks sermon...but I hope to read the rest.

October 11, 2004

Chinese Calligraphy

And another followup to the Bonesetter's Daughter, via Plep, is this page on Chinese Calligraphy.

October 10, 2004

The Reader Bernhard Schlink

The new book a novel about the holocaust and the German view of past and present. Interesting in view of our trip to see Goodbye Lenin about another fault line in German history. It will be interesting to see how it compares to Weisel's novels - from the other side of the barbed wire and Primo Levi's books.

I recently read Haffner's Defying Hitler a view of opposing the rise of Nazism inside Germany, also the review here.

But back to the Schlink!

September 08, 2004

Amy Tan Page

Anniina's Amy Tan Page lots of links here, though the Bonesetter's Daughter ones appear to either be broken or depend on registering with the New York Times

September 07, 2004

The Bonesetter's Daughter

The New Book for September - Book group guide

August 18, 2004

The Last King of Scotland

I've finished it already - not as unpleasant as I'd thought it would be - at least from the gory point of view. Gave me a lot of food though for its depiction of the seductiveness of evil and compromise. A review is here, and notes on the novel

July 23, 2004

Road to Nab End - Background

July 20, 2004

Road to Nab End II

I've finished it, couple of observations:

  • He appears to jumble it in time, appears rather chaotic, and that jumbling appears even when you're not in one of the thread following passages.
  • It's not clear whether it's meant to be anecdotes around my childhood or a social history of the early 20th Century in Lancashire, and it rather falls between the two stools!

July 08, 2004

The Road To Nab End

The new book - review

June 28, 2004

In Siberia - II

Not convinced on the quality of writing but he certinly has a story to tell! Whether it's the end of the Romanovs, the Old Believers or life in a dead end seaport near the Arctic circle it's a good and sometimes moving read.

Book Club Bullies

Giles Fraser in the Guardian, a little unfair, we all have problems looking at our views dispassionately - and probably shouldn't in the case of faith? There's not such a committment to a book that you (probably) first picked up a month ago!

June 08, 2004

In Siberia - I

Well, from Algeria to Siberia - Colin Thubron's travel book,
Top Google hit on the book.
Another review looks interesting. `Siberia is the new Tuscany', hmmmm!

June 07, 2004

Final Thoughts

I thought the book improved especially in the Lycee section - a real sense of involvement which may be a little foreign to Camus!
A Guardian review

May 25, 2004

Camus Photos

Intersting ones of his youth in Algeria, Existentialism and Albert Camus

The State and Women's RightsPostcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.

Death by Car Crash Famous people who died in car crashes!

May 09, 2004

The First Man

Carol, Beth and I had a discussion over coffee on this - beautufully written - but we're all fans of Camus! I regret that I'll be reading it n English.

As the reading guide suggests a different first chapter before throwing you into the adult main character

May 05, 2004

The First Man - Camus

Working towards starting this..... but here's a reading group guide

May 04, 2004


Michael Arditti's book on the Church of England, disturbing and wonderfully amusing
at Amazon and Arditti on the book, a recent thread on the ship-of-fools.

February 19, 2004

Larry's Party

The male identity at the end of the 20th Century told through a maze maker