Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Carter Beats The Devil

By Glen David Gold

This is my thirtieth post. The big 3-0. Not sure what else to say but, crikey!

That bit of useless trivia aside, I shall now move on to what this current blogule is actually about. The book pictured opposite. My letter, G. He, like F. Scott Fitzgerald is a brilliant example of the letter he represents as both his first and surname begins with the letter in question.

Now this book is primarily about a magician, automatically a winner for me, I used to love magic when I was a kid. I still do to some extent and have recently got a couple of magic books out of the library to learn some basic close up magic. I also love the brilliant TV series Jonathan Creek. It is also set in a period I like, the 1920's so already it is on to a winner.

However the book isn't purely about a magician in the Golden Age of magic. It is also a good thriller. Set against a backdrop of suspect assasination, we are treated to what can only be described as a real rollercoaster thriller.

This book is really, truly great stuff, the kind of thing I would ideally like to myself. It is funny, clever and a real page turning book.

Some twists are obvious I must say, however this aside, there are some real puzzles that make you think. Overall this is one of my favourite books I have read so far, to be honest, they all pretty good, I may have to set out to read something particularly bad to balance it all out.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The First Cut is The Deepest

OK, RIDICULOUS blogule title I know. Bear with me though. It shall become clear once I explain what it's all about (Willis).

As mentioned in many places on this little page of utter irreverent twaddle, that I inflict on you all (for which I am truly sorry). I want to be a writer. Now I am currently in the midst of entering a short story competition and will be sending off my story by the end of the week. It's already written but, alas, and indeed alack, I have to edit it. I am currently over 200 words over the imposed word limit of 2,000. Those of you who are sure how this mathematics lark works will realise that this is of course, TOO MANY WORDS. Which means I have to do something that I utterly dread, editing.

I utterly hate editing my own work, it means I have to read what I wrote. Now, I know you think, well if you hate reading your stuff, it must be terrible so give up writing. Well I say, SILENCE DETRACTORS! I know what I write is good but what I hate is reading it and realising how stupid some bits now sound.

Basically I am extremely over-active with the old delete key. It is really my friend in these situations. I start deleting loads of bits and soon I'm back within the word limit, by 2000 words. Not good. I am by far and a way my own worst critic. Something that I imagine most writers are.

Anyway, I am going to try and edit this, just removing lines I feel are superfluous and then see where that takes me. Then add info to make the story more cohesive. Then re-edit it.

So, what do I do? Do I just keep on like this until I stop criticising everything I write? Do I just give in? Do I no longer edit myself and hire an imp?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Rich Boy

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

OK, a much quicker turnaround for a post this time. As all good followers of the alphabet will know, after my previous post, which was about the letter E I would of course next be posting about the letter F next.

So, as the more aggressive types say, "What the F?"

Well, the F is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, I have never read anything by this chap before so he is the first of the many NEW AUTHORS, who I have come across in the course of this challenge. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect in my reading of this collection of some of Fitzy's short stories.

They are each linked by the process of unobtainable love. A subject I personally wouldn't normally read books about. However, these books are set in a period I quite like, as evidenced by love of people such as Wodehouse. Now Fitzy presents this world in a very different way to how Pelham does. His world isn't always the eternal, humorous summer of Wodehouse. His is just as beautiful in the use of language and the situations seen. Different but in a good way.

The stories themselves are very good and feature the universal feel of love and chasing that unobtainable partner. These are themes that everyone can readily identify with. They aren't presented in an overly sentimental, cloying way that makes you want to slap those in love in a desperate bid to restore sense.

Instead Fitzgerald presents people as what they are. Human. Now, that may seem a somewhat redundant sentence but allow me to explain. I mean that they are simple, flawed and at the same time simple wonderfully beautiful and Fitzgerald really does present this in his writing. He makes everyone recognisable without making them a character type. You read what he writes and see the type of person that he describes clearly.

In summary, Fitzgerald is so far one of my favourites, along with Bond and Conan Doyle for his sheer representation of character and his use of language. I want to read more, even though the loveliness of the language is rather depressingly unobtainable for me just yet.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Bachae

By Euripides

Right! Yes! OK. Sorry, really, frightfully sorry about the sheer lack of a blog here. Basically I am useless. I just haven't bothered with one for the best part of a week due to sheer silliness and laziness. Needless to say, I am still here.

Ok. So whilst I have been away what have I done? Well, I started one book by a writer beginning with E and gave up. Yes, I gave up. Packed in. Couldn't be bothered with it. (It was George Elliot, in case you wondered). So instead I went out of my usual comfort zone and went totaly and utterly mad in my choice. I chose Euripides. The Ancient Greek playwright.

Now I don't usually read plays, let alone Greek ones, ancient or otherwise. So this was a somewhat bold choice for me.

Now, before I go on I need to get jokes out of the way.

What's a Greek Urn?
About 50 drachma (Euros) a week

Right, terrible humour aside. The book itself.

Hard going in places definitely. Keeping track of it all, with my limited knowledge of Greek mythology was hard. However it did teach me some very interesting stuff, so it was good in that respect. The one I read was a collection of four plays. Three of which I rather enjoyed. The other I found rather tedious.

There was some good overall themes in the plays and they felt rather modern, despite their age. The trick with reading a play, to yourself is that you have to read it in the multiple voices in your head. This is quite easy if you can create voices and visualise characters in your head.

OK, so. Views? I rather liked it overall and may read some more plays as part of my project. Whether or not they will be Greek ones remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Last Bus to Woodstock

By Colin Dexter

Another book by a man who has two names that are first names. He joins a list of such luminaries that are too numerous to mention. He follows, what many see as a tough act to follow in the crime novel stakes. ACD may not have originated the detective genre but he typifies it oh so many ways.

He created the detective with silly first name and some kind of addiction coupled with the partner who asks all the questions we want to hear. Where the two differ is in their choice of narrator, for ACD, we have Watson, dear old Watson. For Col, we get a general third person type.

Now this difference is for me what makes the two so very different. As mentioned in my previous blogule, I love the use of Watson, he makes the Holmes books for me. His little biases and everything make the books that little more human. Reading this I felt more reviewed from the story. I never felt the way about Morse and Lewis the way I did about Holmes and Watson. I cared for the two Victorians, here I felt less love for the two characters. At times it was more frustration than affection. Morse just seemed too much of a clich├ęd old school detective. Hard drinking, slightly lecherous. Like Gene Hunt but without the one liners. So here, the detached nature of a third person narrator didn't sell the book for me.

This isn't to say that the book is terrible. Oh no far from it! Yes the book is flawed, it's a first novel, one expects it. The characters are still fairly rough. Anyway, these points aside. The book itself is quite good for a crime novel. Plenty of the usual twists and turns in the plot, which as everyone knows is how you do a crime novel. The scene setting that The Dex employs is nice and vivid, not being familiar with the area around Oxford I could picture it all well enough. So for imagery, plot and characters The Dex does well. Now for some people that may be enough but for me personally, there has to be some heart and I just didn't get it with this.