Monday, December 13, 2010

What I’m reading

Yes, I know. I still haven’t revealed the secret connection between Bill Manhire and Dr Feelgood. But like Christmas, it is coming. Meanwhile…

The frontiers ofscienceWarning: may contain batshit.

Speaking of batshit, Paul at Fundy Post has a long quote from Paul Holmes on Wikileaks. David Thompson rounds up some non-batshit austere views on Julian Assange, while Tim Blair regrettably takes the opportunity to mock our accent: Wukilix. Fush in a barrel, mate.

Edward Docx in the Guardian laments the popularity of popular fiction:
On my way back to London the other day, I was clawing my way toward the buffet car when I noticed with a shock that more or less the entire train carriage was reading… novels. This cheered me up immensely: partly because I have begun to fear that we are living in some kind of Cowellian nightmare, and partly because I make a good part of my living writing them. [. . .]
My cheer modulated into something, well, less cheerful (but still quite cheerful) when I realised that they were all, in fact, reading the same book. Yes, you’ve guessed it: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo who Played With Fire and who, some time later we are lead [sic – this is the Guardian, remember] to believe, Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. In the next three carriages it was the same story – men, women, toddlers. [. . .] And when, finally, I arrived at the buffet car, I was greeted with a sigh and a how-dare-you raise of the eyebrows. Why? Because in order to effectively conjure my cup of lactescent silt into existence, the barrista [sic – yes, still the Guardian] in question would have to put down his… Stieg Larsson.
In terms of sales, 2010 has been the year of the Larsson. Again. His three books have been the three bestselling fiction titles on Amazon UK. Along with Dan Brown, he has conquered the world. 
Perhaps. But he hasn’t conquered New Zealand, I’m pleased to say. The biggest-selling book in New Zealand in 2010 is The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein. Quality will out. 

Anti-catholicism in Britain’s arts establishment has had an effect on Scotland’s leading composer, James MacMillan. Talk about unintended consequences: the former fierce socialist now votes Conservative. No more profiles in the Guardian for him, then.

Tim Newman, who works in the oil industry, compares and contrasts the UK and US approaches to a leak at an oil well. And last night he attended the MTV Africa Music Awards in Lagos, where he lives. It seems to have been a missed opportunity. 

Two new words to me thanks to the University of Ohio: “sexecology” and “eco-erotic”.

And a Christmas gift for you: thanks to the University of Michigan you can download legally and for free the complete organ works by J.S. Bach, performed by James Kibble.


Danyl Mclauchlan said...

It's easy to overdo the sneering revulsion to the Stieg Larrson books - the first one is a pretty great thriller. I don't understand why they've become, literally, the most popular books in the world, but since this is usually a slot occupied by Danielle Steel (or equivalent) Larrson's popularity is no bad thing.

Rob Hosking said...

"secret connection between Bill Manhire and Dr Feelgood."

Something about milk and alcohol?

Stephen Stratford said...

Agreed. I enjoyed the first one, the second and third much less. Partly the sexual violence - icky - and partly the implausibility of Salander's hacking skills, which seemed to be on the miraculous level of "With one bound he was free". Plus Blomkvist was irresistible to women - c'mon, he's a journalist.

Stephen Stratford said...

"Something about milk and alcohol?"

Sadly no, Rob. More Bjork-ish.

Danyl said...

Plus Blomkvist was irresistible to women - c'mon, he's a journalist.

True, it is okay to sneer at books in which the hero is an obvious proxy for the author and gets a blowjob from every female character in the novel. I call that the 'Haruki Murakami syndrome'.

Stephen Stratford said...

Danyl, I call that the "male author" syndrome.

Any male authors care to comment?

Chad Taylor said...

Having read a lot of Murakami I'm struggling to recall him writing about even one. (Not in the one about running, surely?) Maybe they didn't make an impression. Or maybe I'm just not uptight about it. Do you mark the margins, Danyl, or just fold over the corner? Reading, I mean...