Random Thoughts: Sleeping in a library

Well, not quite in a library. Almost, though.

My best friend’s husband texted me a couple of months ago to suggest a birthday surprise for his lovely wife. I’ve known Mandy since 1989. We met at a party in our first term at university and shared a house in our final year. Over the twenty six years since graduation, we have been through lots of adventures, but this weekend I think we had our best one yet. Continue reading

On the Narrow Road to the Deep North

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Read 21/01/2018-31/01/2018

Rating: 5 stars

My 300th post! How good that it should be a five star review of a book that celebrates the 300th anniversary of something.

After the bleakness of The Secret River, I felt in need of something calming, and what could be more calming than an account of a pilgrimage undertaken on the 300th anniversary of Basho’s 1689 journey to the Tōhoku and Yamagata regions of Japan? Continue reading

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

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Read 02/01/2018-04/01/2018

Rating 4 stars

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman is a strange tale, but compelling in its strangeness. Author Denis Thériault’s background in screenwriting enhances the imagery conjured by his words. Each place in the story is like a film set, each character like an actor viewed by an audience. Continue reading

Winter: a chat with Weezelle

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Read 07/12/2017-12/12/2017

Rating: 4 stars

When I read and commented on Weezelle’s review of Autumn, and mentioned that I had both Autumn and Winter next in line for reading, Weezelle suggested that we wrote a joint review of the second book in the sequence. So here we are.

We live on opposite sides of the globe (don’t you love the internet? Please, America, don’t end Net Neutrality), and had to negotiate an 11 hour time difference, as well as Weezelle moving house. Through the magic of Twitter DMs and cut & paste, we had a wonderful, wide ranging discussion. Continue reading

The Dove’s Necklace

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Read 01/06/2017-18/06/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I don’t think I once fully understood what was going on in The Dove’s Necklace, but I can’t say I didn’t have fair warning. The opening sentence of the first part of the book begins:

The only thing you can know for certain in this entire book is where the body was found …

The body, that of a naked woman, is discovered in an alley known as the Lane of Many Heads. It’s the alley itself that narrates the story, introducing the main characters and commenting on their lives. Continue reading

Crow

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Read 10/04/2017-11/04/2017

Rating: 4 stars

I have never read any of Ted Hughes’ poetry for grown ups. I’ve only read his books for children, The Iron Man and How The Whale Became. I remember really enjoying them, and getting a dark thrill from how inventive and other worldly they were. I wouldn’t have put it like that back then, it was probably more of a gut thing.

I decided I would read Crow as a result of reading Grief is the Thing with Feathers. I get what Max Porter has done with that novel in a different way now. I see the origins of Crow in that book more clearly. Continue reading

Gumption

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Read 20/01/2017-24/01/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Watch out, because this is a long one. Gumption has fed my brain and I’ve had lots of thoughts as a result. I’ll start with this one: O, Nick Offerman, how I love your drollness.

There are so many great things in this book. I didn’t agree with all of Offerman’s opinions, but I agreed with and enjoyed the majority. He talks sense but he doesn’t preach. He entertains but he doesn’t diminish the seriousness of what he’s saying.

Offerman appears in one of my favourite TV shows of recent years, Parks and Recreation. He plays Ron Swanson, a small c conservative man with a deep love for the outdoors, manual labour and meat. He’s everything I shouldn’t love, but he’s a joy.

Offerman shares many of Ron’s characteristics, except he is more free in the expression of his sense of humour and far less conservative. In this book, Offerman takes a look at the lives of significant figures in American culture and explains why they mean what they do to him. It covers politics, art, slow living, responsibility to the planet, to animals and to other human beings, and provides insights into Offerman’s own philosophy of life. It’s both interesting and funny. Continue reading