Archive for January, 2013

Jeeves In The Offing – PG Wodehouse

Posted in Books on January 30, 2013 by thecognitivekey

This is the first Wodehouse I ever bought. I was 9 or 10 and I bought it at a jumble sale. It was the cover picture that attracted me. I read it and that started a life-long addiction to Wodehouse.

This is a Bertie Wooster/Jeeves tale. Jeeves appears at the start and end, the middle is reserved for Bertie to get himself deeper in the mire. It was first published in 1960, and shows the mastery that Wodehouse had by this time. Everything just flows so simply. The plot twists but Wodehouse is always in control. All the favourite characters, B & J, Bobbie Wickham, Sir Roderick Glossop, Aunt Dahlia plus a handful of players ready to take their parts. Imposters, misunderstandings, they are all there…and finally everything straightens itself, and everyone is happy.

The charm of Wodehouse is the use of English. Such delicate use of words, you would believe they dance. A master on a par with Shakespeare…

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A Pelican At Blandings – PG Wodehouse

Posted in Books on January 24, 2013 by thecognitivekey

Another classic story from Wodehouse. Set in Blandings Castle with Lord Emsworth and the Empress of Blandings (a pig), it has all the twists and turns I’d expect from Wodehouse. A master of the English language, and a master of the plot too. No word is superfluous to the tale. Even better, this story has brother Galahad and an armful of imposters, all resident in the Castle, a mixture from heaven.

Always a great read

Wilt In Nowhere – Tom Sharpe

Posted in Books on January 20, 2013 by thecognitivekey

I liked the early Tom Sharpe. The first Wilt books, the Blott books and the South Africa based ones were funny. They took outrageous situations and made them funny. There wasn’t a wasted word. Then Tom Sharpe developed writers’ block and couldn’t produce any books. It seems he has now recovered.

The key people here are Wilt, his wife Eva and his quadruplet daughters. Wilt’s family go to visit relations in the US, and cause chaos there. While his family are away Wilt unintentionally gets involved in a series of accidents, though mostly he is unconscious. Flint the policeman is there too.

All the elements are there. It could be a good book. It isn’t. There are too many patches in the plot where nothing of interest happens. I didn’t understand why the quads did what they did in the US, it wasn’t funny. Maybe it would have been in the 1970s, maybe it still is funny, maybe I have changed. The UK side is equally devoid of humour. Some parts are gently funny, but the humour of the earlier novels is missing. It’s rather like wading through treacle. The light, deft touch of the humourist is missing. A great shame as I did like Tom Sharpe. I shall have to re-read some of the earlier work just to check that it’s not me that has changed.

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Posted in Books on January 15, 2013 by thecognitivekey

I was given this for Christmas. Probably not one I would have picked from the pile myself. It was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2004. No idea what won that year.

This is a series of 6 tales starting in the mid-19th century, running through to a post-apocalypse world, and then back again. There are a couple of threads which link one tale to the next, the thinnest of threads but enough in themselves to tie one to the book and to want to know the outcome. The tenuous thread is a common birthmark held by someone, but not always the main character in each tale…no more than a link. The main thread is the barbarism of humanity, the perpetual drive for power and dominion over others, be they slaves (free and enslaved), machines or even just the world. An interesting read, and it predicts a bleak future for mankind – but then we all know the direction our so-called leaders are taking us…

George Thomas, Mr Speaker – The memoirs of Viscount Tonypandy

Posted in Books on January 13, 2013 by thecognitivekey

I don’t like to give up on a book. Even The Rolling Stones Keith Richards engaged for a few pages, thereafter it was a struggle until I conceded defeat just after halfway. You can only take shit for so long.

George Thomas failed to engage at all. I think I hated him on page 1 and things got worse with everything he did and said. How this man could have been a Labour MP for so many years just typifies the problems Labour has or had in the past. Such a sycophant, my word. Talk about a class traitor. Kowtowing to royalty, happy to drop the names of his betters, constant crawling… Argh!

I stopped around page 5 as to continue would just have left me with a desire to start the revolution single-handed to rid our country of such vermin. Beyond doubt this man put the cause of the ordinary people back decades with his subservient attitude. And he was revered! No wonder the ruling classes liked him and were happy to let his celebrity grow.

Fortunately I had only borrowed this book. I gave it back. Had I bought it I would have had to burn it.

George Thomas – Traitor – give him a wide berth