Cuban entertainment

29 12 2012

Our Man in Havana


Wormold is a vacuum cleaner salesman in a city of power cuts. His adolescent daughter spends his money with a skill that amazes him, so when a mysterious Englishman offers him an extra income he’s tempted. In return all he has to do is carry out a little espionage and file a few reports. But when his fake reports start coming true, things suddenly get more complicated and Havana becomes a threatening place.

I can’t recall reading a Greene for at least a couple of decades so it was great to get back to him albeit with one of his ‘entertainments’ rather than a novel. Nevertheless, very good indeed and really terrific fun. It feels like a film plot and it’s perhaps not surprising that it was quickly made into a movie shortly after its publication.
Highly recommended.

23 12 2012

Reminded today about this book. Am hoping to get for Christmas so I can ignore it again.

Prole Art Threat

How to talk about books you haven’t read by Pierre Bayard


In the spirit intended by the author, I’ve not actually read this book so have to copy the synopsis from Amazon:

In this disarmingly mischievous and provocative book, already a runaway bestseller in France, Pierre Bayard contends that in this age of infinite publication, the truly cultivated person is not the one who has read a book, but the one who understands the book’s place in our culture. Drawing on examples from works by Graham Greene, Umberto Eco, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne (who couldn’t remember books he himself had written), and many others, he examines the many kinds of ‘non-reading’ (forgotten books, unknown books, books discussed by others, books we’ve skimmed briefly) and the many potentially nightmarish situations in which we are called upon to discuss our reading with others (with our loved ones, with the book’s author…

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Carry on: Approximation of a Playlist §62

8 12 2012

Carry on films

Sergeant Rock – XTC
The Teacher – Big Country
Cab it up! – The Fall
I spy – Pulp
Happy Jack – The Who
Lonesome Cowboy Bill – The Velvet Underground
Screaming skin – Blondie
Doctor Jones – Aqua
You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
Welcome To The Jungle – Guns N’ Roses
Moon River – Henry Mancini
Girls Talk – Dave Edmunds
Chim Chim Cher-ee – Dick Van Dyke
Behind The Groove – Teena Marie
A New England – Kirsty MacColl
O Come. O Come Emmanuel – Belle & Sebastian
World Before Columbus – Suzanne Vega

Beijing calling

1 12 2012

The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell

One cold January day the police are called to a sleepy little hamlet in the north of Sweden where they discover a savagely murdered man lying in the snow. As they begin their investigation they notice that the village seems eerily quiet and deserted. Going from house to house, looking for witnesses, they uncover a crime unprecedented in Swedish history. When Judge Birgitta Roslin reads about the massacre, she realises that she has a family connection to one of the couples involved and decides to investigate. A nineteenth-century diary and a red silk ribbon found in the forest nearby are the only clues. What Birgitta eventually uncovers leads her into an international web of corruption and a story of vengeance that stretches back over a hundred years, linking China and the USA of the 1860s with modern-day Beijing, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and coming to a shocking climax in London’s Chinatown.The Man from Beijing is both a gripping and perceptive political thriller and a compelling detective story. It shows Henning Mankell at the height of his powers, handling a broad historical canvas and pressing international issues with his exceptional gifts for insight and chilling suspense.

It is rather gripping stuff. The politics though are slightly less convincing than the detective story. Enjoyable despite the absence of Wallander.

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