Do the Math: Approximation of a Playlist §59

23 02 2012

Songs featuring something to do with mathematics

Summer Of ’69 – Bryan Adams
He’s frank (slight return) – The Monochrome Set
Birthday – Sugarcubes
Smile like you mean it – The Killers
Going Back To My Roots – Odyssey
Sign O’ The Times – Prince
Green shirt – Elvis Costello
Get It On – The Power Station
You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care) – Buddy Holly
1999 – Binary Finary
Heart and soul – Joy Division
Mornings eleven – The Magic Numbers
Identity – X-Ray Spex
American Pie – Don McLean
Bizarre love triangle – New Order
Circle In The Sand – Belinda Carlisle
Perfect – Fairground Attraction
Multiplication – Bobby Darin
When Will I See You Again – The Three Degrees
What’s the frequency Kenneth? – REM
The Magic Number – De La Soul
Concrete and Clay – Unit Four Plus Two

Leopard: spots unchanged

16 02 2012

The Leopard by Joe Nesbo



In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets.

His victims are two young women, both found with twenty-four inexplicable puncture wounds, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. There is only one man who can help them, and he doesn’t want to be found.

Deeply traumatised by an investigation that threatened the lives of those he holds most dear, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong’s opium dens. But with his father seriously ill in hospital, Harry reluctantly agrees to return to Oslo. He has no intention of working on the case, but his instinct takes over when an MP is found brutally murdered in a city park.

The victims appear completely unconnected to one another, but it’s not long before Harry makes a discovery: the women all spent the night in an isolated mountain hostel. And someone is picking off the guests one by one.

It’s a pretty good thriller though and another entertaining outing for the ever morose Harry Hole. One of the most interesting of Nesbo’s books this and really does keep motoring along with Hole as a really compelling and complicated central character.


9 02 2012

Victory by Joseph Conrad



Set among the islands of the Malay Archipelago, ‘Victory’ is the story of Axel Heyst, a ‘utopist’ who shuns human society in favour of a solitary existence on the island of Samburan. On a rare trip away from his island solitude, Heyst visits Schomberg’s hotel in Sourabaya where he encounters an English girl who is part of a travelling ladies’ orchestra. He rescues her from a wretched existence and takes her back to Samburan. Schomberg, who had designs on the girl, is furious, and later he exacts his revenge by directing three villains to Samburan in pursuit of the fortune that Heyst is rumoured to have there. Their arrival in Heyst’s private paradise triggers a train of events which quickly reach a violent conclusion.

I have to say I thought this was an outstanding book. I never cease to be amazed by the standard of Conrad’s writing and his storytelling ability. A terrific and compelling yarn.

Imperialist nonsense

2 02 2012

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Clay is a successful screenwriter, middle-aged and disaffected; he’s in LA to cast his new movie. However, this trip is anything other than professional, and he’s soon drifting through a louche and long-familiar circle – a world largely populated by the band of infamous teenagers first introduced in Less Than Zero. But his debauched reverie is about to be interrupted by a violent plot for revenge and Clay’s seemingly endless proclivity for betrayal and exploitation looks set to land him somewhere darker and more ominous than ever before.

Yes it is debauched and violent and very Easton Ellis. But unfortunately, the plotting could not be much weaker, the characters more feeble and the narrative more plodding. Really poor. And can’t believe the Guardian said this about it:

‘Easton Ellis adds the playful self-advertisements of Philip Roth to the ambiguously complicit social reportage of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Imperial Bedrooms ranks with his best exercises in the latter register, teeming with sharp details of a narcissistic generation’

Comparing this tosh to Roth and F Scott Fitzgerald? Afraid not.

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