Going Gauguin

30 01 2016

The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham


Charles Strickland, a conventional stockbroker, abandons his wife and children for Paris and Tahiti, to live his life as a painter. Whilst his betrayal of family, duty and honour gives him the freedom to achieve greatness, his decision leads to an obsession which carries severe implications. Inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence is at once a satiric caricature of Edwardian conventions and a vivid portrayal of the mentality of a genius.

Maugham is such a great writer and this is another outstanding example of his art. Highly recommended


four stars

Hello darkness my old friend

23 01 2016

Death is a Welcome Guest by Louise Welsh


Magnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run and there is nothing to laugh about.

Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish island.

He finds himself in a landscape fraught with danger, fighting for his place in a world ruled by men, like his fellow traveller Jeb – practical men who do not let pain or emotions interfere with getting the job done.

This is a world with its own justice, and new rules.
Where people, guns and food are currency.
Where survival is everything.

Grim stuff. But actually really rather good in a post-apocalyptic practical survival kind of way. As a read it is relatively unchallenging but Welsh does a grand persuasive job of presenting a very realistic scenario in this the second book in her Plague trilogy. Particularly amused at the Sunday Mirror quote on the front cover: “utterly contagious”. Indeed.


Prole Art Threat 2015 in review

31 12 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.


It’s really not very impressive to be honest so perhaps best avoided

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


13 12 2015

The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith



Have just finished the third, and probably the best, in the series:

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. You will not be able to put this book down.

All three are pretty good examples of the crime thriller genre and Galbraith (really J K Rowling) really does have fun with the format. Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are both great characters and each of the three books is clever, sharp and really well-paced.




6 12 2015

Submission by Michel Houellebecq


In a near-future France, François, a middle-aged academic, is watching his life slowly dwindle to nothing. His sex drive is diminished, his parents are dead, and his lifelong obsession – the ideas and works of the nineteenth-century novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans – has led him nowhere. In a late-capitalist society where consumerism has become the new religion, François is spiritually barren, but seeking to fill the vacuum of his existence.

And he is not alone. As the 2022 Presidential election approaches, two candidates emerge as favourites: Marine Le Pen of the Front National, and Muhammed Ben Abbes of the nascent Muslim Fraternity. Forming a controversial alliance with the mainstream parties, Ben Abbes sweeps to power, and overnight the country is transformed. Islamic law comes into force: women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged and, for François, life is set on a new course.

Submission is both a devastating satire and a profound meditation on isolation, faith and love. It is a startling new work by one of the most provocative and prescient novelists of today.


Houellebecq, known as the bad boy of French literature, doesn’t disappoint in his latest, set in 2022, in which François comes to terms with Islamic law under the new political regime in France. A clever, controversial and at times extremely disturbing novel. Would be improved by deletion of François’ porn fantasies.


3 star

Another country

28 11 2015

A Month in the Country by J L Carr


In the summer of 1920 two men, both war survivors meet in the quiet English countryside. One is living in the church, intent upon uncovering and restoring an historical wall painting while the other camps in the next field in search of a lost grave.Out of their meeting comes a deeper communion and a catching up of the old primeval rhythms of life so cruelly disorientated by the Great War.
One of those lost literary gems which seems to resurface occasionally, this slim novella is a poetic pastoral masterpiece. In terms of pace, tone and texture it really is just perfect. Do read it.

5 star


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