More Scotland Street diversions

28 12 2007

Love Over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith

Scot st

Another set of entertaining (if undemanding) tales from the overlapping lives of residents (and former occupants) of 44 Scotland Street. Little six-year old Bertie is probably the star performer on his trip to Paris and Domenica’s attempts to study pirates in Malaysia are amusing too but all of the characters exhibit a degree of charm.

Nice and easy does it.

3 star

Ay Ay Cap’n: Eyeless in Gaza

23 12 2007

Eyeless in Gaza by Aldous Huxley


Primarily concerned with Anthony Beavis and his upper middle class circle of friends in the first third of the 20th Century. Beavis is a pretty unsympathetic character whose intelligence doesn’t substitute for his general cowardice. His father (mother dies young) is exceptionally dull and has no real clue how to deal with his son.

Friendship with the decent Brian st school nevertheless sees Anthony side with the bullies except during holidays. Anthony’s selfishness and cowardice ultimately leads to Brian’s suicide. Following this outstanding success, Anthony’s relationships with Mary and then her daughter Helen demonstrate further his cynicism. Later on, almost as a dare, he engages in a daft revolutionary escapade in Mexico, discovering a new pacifist inside himself, perhaps somewhat unconvincingly.

Does capture well a certain aspect of the early 20th Century it seems to me with just a hint of the subsequent horrors to come in Europe in the 30s. The philosophical discussions which emerge through Beavis seem a little forced at times but the shifting time frames make this a genuinely modern novel. There is much to recommend it but it is really difficult to feel any sympathy for any of the characters except the honorable Brian.

3 star

Power pointy

7 12 2007

Mildly diverting skit about common powerpoint errors

Singing fish

1 12 2007

The Fish Can Sing by Halldor Laxness


A lovely little book telling of childhood and modest ambition in Iceland. Delicately observed and wonderfully evocative coming of age in the early 20th Century. Swinging between desire to be a fisherman of lumpfish and the exoticism of the famous international singer Garthar Holm, Alfgrim grows and learns about life beyond the bizarre denizens of the mid-loft at the house of Bjorn of Brekkukot. A gentle and touching tale.

4 star

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