Book review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960

The subset of people who have read ‘Go Set a Watchman’ but have not read’To Kill a Mockingbird’ must be pretty small, and until this week included me, embarrassed although I am to admit it. Yes, until this week I had not read this the ultimate American classic. I had seen the film, of course,Continue reading “Book review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960”

Book review: Rabbit Redux – John Updike – 1971

The Penguin Modern Classics editions of Updike’s Rabbit quartet (Run, Redux, Rich, and at Rest) contain an afterword by the author which in some ways makes the reviewer redundant, offering insight into the composition of the novels to which few could hope to achieve. Of course, I am going to have a try. Harry ‘Rabbit’Continue reading “Book review: Rabbit Redux – John Updike – 1971”

Comment: Have you ever been stuck?

I am in limbo at the moment, struggling manfully with a novel I refuse to give up on (Stella Gibbons, The Bachelor) but with which I can make very limited progress. This was a spur of the moment, I must have something to read purchase, done in a spirit of optimism and refusal to acknowledgeContinue reading “Comment: Have you ever been stuck?”

Book review: The Hound of the D’Urbevilles by Kim Newman

Why restrict yourself to one clever idea – the Holmes stories written from the perspective of Moriarty’s Watson? – when two – mixing in themes characters and plots from 19th Century fiction – will be twice the fun? Well, perhaps on reflection the whole is less than the sum of the parts, if I canContinue reading “Book review: The Hound of the D’Urbevilles by Kim Newman”

At Home – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is a wonderfully entertaining writer. His short book about Shakespeare was superbly written and erudite, and despite covering ground so well trodden he managed to bring new perspectives, as well as demolishing the “Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare” position devastatingly. I also enjoyed “Notes from a Small Island” and his book on Australia, unimaginativelyContinue reading “At Home – Bill Bryson”

The Long Walk to the Hunger Games

There are some books that contain ideas or images which make an impression on you that is wholly disproportionate to the novel itself. In other words you principally remember not the novel but a scene or an image from it, long after the name or the author has been forgotten. One example from my early twentiesContinue reading “The Long Walk to the Hunger Games”

Let’s play a game…..

The name of the game is “Guess the book”. The book I am thinking of was written by a female novelist, but published in such a way as to disguise her gender. It features an orphan who up to the age of 11 lives with relatives who treat them badly, and is bullied by aContinue reading “Let’s play a game…..”

Henry V and George of the Jungle

  One of my proudest moments as a parent came, bizarrely, during a viewing of the otherwise excrable George of the Jungle 2 – note George of the Jungle 2, not the Brendan Fraser production, which was bad enough. At the end of GotJ2 nasty developers are planning to bulldoze the jungle, and only ourContinue reading “Henry V and George of the Jungle”

Starkadder Mad

More on Cold Comfort – not that I am obsesssed or anything. The original novel, Stella Gibbons’s first, was published in the early 1930’s. It has a wonderful period feel – although it is set a few years in the future, and there are glimpses of how the world has changed, with video phones andContinue reading “Starkadder Mad”