Aesop’s animals: Approximation of a playlist §57

30 06 2011

Animals appearing in some of Aesop’s fables

Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
What do I get? – Buzzcocks
S-S-S-Single Bed – Fox
Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) – The Icicle Works
Down To Earth – Curiosity Killed The Cat

Deutscher girls – Adam and the Ants
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys
Dog Days Are Over – Florence and The Machine
Sheep – The Housemartins
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit
Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran
A Horse With No Name – America
Funny Little Frog – Belle and Sebastian
Peacock Suit – Paul Weller
When Doves Cry – Prince

Dem bones, dem bones

23 06 2011

Naming the Bones by Louise Welsh

SOME SECRETS ARE BEST LEFT BURIED. Knee-deep in the mud of an ancient burial ground, a winter storm raging around him, and at least one person intent on his death: how did Murray Watson end up here? His quiet life in university libraries researching the lives of writers seems a world away, and yet it is because of the mysterious writer, Archie Lunan, dead for thirty years, that Murray now finds himself scrabbling in the dirt on the remote island of Lismore. Loaded with Welsh’s trademark wit, insight and gothic charisma, this adventure novel weaves the lives of Murray and Archie together in a tale of literature, obsession and dark magic.

Terrific yarn this, extremely readable and very well written but really just a bit bonkers at the end. And the representation of academic life didn’t quite ring true. Well worth a read though.

Thunderstorms in London

16 06 2011

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Adam, a climatologist in flight from America and a sexual indiscretion that has thrown a spanner into his marriage and his academic career, is in London for a job interview. Dining alone, he strikes up a conversation with Philip Wang, an immunologist who subsequently leaves a sheaf of papers in the restaurant; when Adam attempts to return them, he finds his new acquaintance taking a siesta with a bread knife in his side. A clever man, Kindred immediately does two stupid things: he removes the bread knife, thus ensuring both death and fingerprints, and goes on the run, pursued by Wang’s killer. With a murderer and, shortly, the police on his trail, he creates a hidey-hole in an overshadowed piece of rough ground on the Embankment and settles down to a life of subterfuge, vagrancy and killing seagulls for dinner.

A nice review in the Guardian of this. It is an extremely good effort and an entertaining thriller. As the review says, it does feel that there are bigger themes in here struggling to get out and that things could have gone in rather different, and perhaps more interesting, directions at some point. Nevertheless, a really good read and the details of Adam’s battle for survival in London as a non-person are compelling.

Devilishly good fun

9 06 2011

Carter beats the Devil by Glen David Gould

The novel begins in 1923 with the most daring performance of Carter’s life. Unfortunately, two hours into the performance, US President Harding is dead and the magician must flee the country, pursued by the Secret Service. This is only an instalment in Carter’s amazing life though as we are guided from his childhood, where both the family servant and a circus freak bullied him, to his rise to stardom and his eventual performance in front of the president. Subsequently, the protagonist is crippled by loneliness, widowed and hunted down by those who believe him a murderer and yet he rises again and again to delight and fulfil the highest expectations of his audience.

Charles Carter is given his stage name “Carter the Great” by the legendary Harry Houdini and by and large lives up to the title. Hugely entertaining romp this which feels historically authentic and is a really quite compelling narrative. Very good indeed. (I’d always been put off in the past by the cover of this book for some reason but reading on iPad meant that problem didn’t arise.)


3 06 2011

Hypothermia by Arnuldar Indridason

One cold autumn night, a woman is found hanging from a beam at her holiday cottage. At first sight, it appears like a straightforward case of suicide; María had never recovered from the death of her mother two years previously and she had a history of depression. But then the friend who found her body approaches Detective Erlendur with a tape of a séance that María attended before her death and his curiosity is aroused…

Driven by a need to find answers, Erlendur begins an unofficial investigation into María’s death. But he is also haunted by another unsolved mystery – the disappearance of two young people thirty years ago – and by his own quest to find the body of his brother, who died in a blizzard when he was a boy.

It’s not at all straightforward for Erlendur who remains a fascinating lead character. This series of admittedly often bleak Icelandic crime novels just seems to get better and better.

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