the man who knew everything by tom stacey

This is one of Capuchin classics reissues a book from the 1988 when it was originally published as “deadline ” and was made in to a tv movie featuring John Hurt .the book itself is set over the fifties and follows Granville Jones who is an old fashion fleet street reporter who has ended up in a middle eastern emirate ,Jones is a drinker the sort of report that likes to spend as much time in the bar as he does his typewriter .Jones is good friends within the current Emir ,but as with most things in this time the emirs position is in jeopardy as the emirate has a new found wealth thanks to the discovery of oil ,this also leads to a change in jones as a forgotten man to some one that is now in the centre of a major news story .the major themes in this story are empire britains diminishing strength the growth of oil money and new wealth ,also a man struggling or unwilling to come to terms with the post war world and its new media ,Stacey’s writing is journalistic and sparse not word is wasted .the book is only 145 pages long but feels much longer than that .

this particular friday lunch time Jones found himself unable to recognise the people with young McCulloch at the Darwish bar .They weren’t the self-assured young bankers whose company McCulloch favoured.the mail clerk handed jones a cable with his airmailed newspapers and the rest of his correspondence .he settled at one of the window tables and as Abdullah brought him his cold Tuborg and chilled glass he was opening his cable………….

a scene from early on in the book that brought back memories of ice-cold in  Alex the film

have you read any Capuchin classics ?



50th post -20 great books for world book day

 As this is my fiftieth post on Winston’s dad and also world book day i ve decide to do a list of 20 books fiction and non fiction today is the 4th march is world book day 2010 all these books i have enjoyed and would recommend highly –

  1. the rings of Saturn by W G Sebald lyrical
  2. suite francaise by Irene Nemirovsky-french war
  3. the last testament of Oscar Wilde by Peter Ackroyd imagined truth
  4. encyclopaedia of snow by Sarah Emily miano-hidden gem
  5. Walden by Henry David Thoreau-american classic
  6. the rebel by Albert Camus-french classic
  7. notes from walnut tree farm by Roger Deakin-nature writing
  8. close range by Anne Proulx great american shorts
  9. Hercule Poirots christmas by Agatha Christie classic crime
  10. oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey-aussie classic
  11. hunger by Elise Blackwell-us modern classic
  12. the suspicions of mr whicher by Kate Summerscale-where crime fiction started
  13. white teeth by Zadie Smith-mordern british
  14. Brideshead revisited by Evelyn Waugh-british classic
  15. girlfriend in a coma by Douglas Coupland-modern american
  16. the book thief by Markus Zusak-thought provoking
  17. empire of the sun J G Ballard -wartime drama
  18. pride and prejudice by jane austen-classic
  19. famished road by Ben Okri-booker winner
  20. the restraint of beasts by Magnus Mills -funny

what our your favourite books ?

books books

dinner at the homesick resturaunt

 This came to me via a loan from bookrambler after a lament from myself earlier in the year that i don’t feel i read enough female writers last year and to be honest in general this was Jannette suggestion ,this is one of Anne Tylers most popular novels and i can see why it is beautifully written ,it follows the ups and downs of the Tull’s family a single parent family with the matriarch pearl and her band of kids Cody ,Ezra and jenny you get to see them grow up and develop ,the main thing i loved is the Tyler write exactly how real families are warts and all there is no beautifying at all .The characters are well drawn particularly pearl and her wayward son Cody a lad that most rebellious teens would recognize .the story is told in snippets as pearl lays dying and recalls the family growing .

while pearl Tull was dying ,a funny thought occurred to her .It twitched her lips and rustled her breath ,and she felt her son lean forward from where he kept watch by her bed .”get . . . “she told him “you should have got . . . ”

you should have got an extra mother ,was what she meant to say …………………

have you read Tyler do you have a favourite ?



B S Johnson The Unfortunates

  There are some wonderful books out there just by the way they look , from time to time like today i ll bring some pictures of them. this book is a great read if a little strange the book is divide in to 27 sections that can be read in any order except the first and last chapter .A great piece of post modernism ,i feel sad that Johnson is sometimes overlooked his work is difficult and challenge to read but reward the reader my addition is the 90’s reprint but there is a new version via new direction but hurry its a limited print run. Johnson was the subject of biography by the novelist Jonathan Coe called ,like a fiery elephant which i ve on the tbr pile


Have you read johnson what is your favourite book ?


book booty

          Every month at least i try to make it to our local book sale at the church hall ,now most of the books there don t interest me but there is always a few gems to be had and today was a really good day for them i came back today with six books for two-pound fifty which is a bargain in any ones books the six books are-

  1. Chekhov  a life in letters ,Chekhovs letters a nice folio society edition as well in great condition ,have a few letter collections a good insight in to a writer i always feel
  2. Foucault’s pendulum by Umberto Eco have had half an eye out for this since being recommend it by Rob at the fiction desk ,pleased I waited a nice hard back edition hope it is a good as Rob said it was
  3. fathers and sons by Ivan Turgenev another folio society book ,don’t know a lot about it other than William Trevor is a fan of Turgenev which is a good enough for me
  4. Wuthering heights by Emily Bronte ,have read this as a teenager ,mainly got it as it’s a everyman library book adding it to may small but growing collection of Everyman’s
  5. black dog by Ian McEwan didnt read this when it came out thought pick it up not read many McEwan’s and always like books with a connection however vague to dogs
  6. Saint Mayle by Anne Tyler ,Tyler has been recommend to me by bookrambler saw this one of two and like this one best by the synopsis on the back of the book

books that defined me

i decide to do this meme post after reading a brilliant post by Claire at paperback reader ,the rules where as follows –

1.Go to your book cases

2.Choose books with your eyes closed

3.Choose ten at random ,use all of your bookcases or piles of books

4.Use the book to tell us about yourself where and when you got them ,who got them for you ,what the books say about you etc .etc….

5.Have fun be imaginative .doesn t matter if you ve not read them all

6.Cheat (i choose 14 )

Book one travels with a donkey in the Cevennes by R L Stevenson ,i got this about ten years ago ,from Chesterfield’s great flea market .I have always enjoyed travel books and also Stevenson’s books this is a lovely book and gave me a great couple of days reading ,ot is from the 30s and show my love of old books

Book two poems of Rimbaud (everyman pocket edition) apart from reading mainly novels poetry has always been a great love i got this book in a small independent bookshop that was open in Alnwick in 94 when i brought this sad to say the shop has long gone Rimbaud is one of france greatest poets alongside the like Baudelaire ,my old school teacher turn me on to poetry reading us poems by Keats Yeats and  Lawrence ,i ve read about two-thirds of the poems but always think a book of poems is for life

Book three the bad seed by william march this was a chance buy in Alnwick wonderful barter books got this shortly after it opened i had a feeling it had something to do with nick cave giving his band the name the bad seeds not sure if its true still but it is about a death and a psycho so it might of done ,i do impulse buy some times it pays sometimes it doesn t ,this time it did william march won the national book award with this in 1955 .

Book four Walt whitman selected poems (penguin popular poetry ) i brought this on a day in Leeds with my step mother shortly after seeing dead poets society where whitman features heavily in the plot line ,i love these poems like the film itself there is something about america of this time Thoreau, whitman,Melville and Emerson are all favourites of mine

Book five Saki shorts (phoenix) i have a few Saki collections one of my earliest memories is at my grandparents looking at there shelves and always be amazed by the name Saki when i was old enough i read them ,my grand mother was a english teacher and loves turn of century fiction saki is ther one of the best short story writers his stories make me laugh  ,he is surely due a revival at some point ,reading his stories bring back memories of great summers around the east neuk of fife with my brother and grandparents .

Book six in the heart of the sea Nathaniel Philbrick i got this because of the connection to moby dick ,and sad to say never read it i will now place it back on tbr pile as it had got shelved away in a bedroom ,adventure stories was a great passion in my teens from Willard price on to jack london ,then Melville .The sea has always drawn me and i love boats but have not sailed much except through books

Book seven the rebel Albert Camus ,my father brought this book for me when i lived in germany in the early nineties .a phone call for books and some promptly came a surprise at my father’s choice as he tends to read pulp thrillers and westerns ,Camus ‘s prose are lovely and was a great companion when i was in germany ,i remember been sat by the Rhine reading this book as the boats drifted by

Book eight the leopard Tomasi di Lampedusa this is one of my around the world reads for this year ,looking forward to reading it then watching the film to compare them .It is a perfect example of why i choose to do the round the world challenge to increase my own knowledge of world lit and strength my love of translated fiction .It will also remind me of my late grandfather who fought in italy but after the war spent nearly every summer there on holiday

Book nine white teeth Zadie smith i got this when it came out in paperback in Sheffield ,it seemed to encapsulate a start of the twenty-first century in our fair land pre 9 11 it is a truly great book and one i feel sure i will re read at some point ,it also mark the emergence of a great new talent in Zadie smith ,i spent a lot of time recommend this book to people

Book ten essays George Orwell ,this collection was a present from my parents ,they know of my love of Orwell and this collection is so diverse i spent christmas to new year reading it .reading Orwell was my first introduction to politics in writing as a thirteen year old reading animal farm ,over the years i ve read most of his books and think i will always go back to him

what do your books say about you?

does every book have a memory for you ?

white ravens by owen sheers

 This novella is part of a project from poetry Wales to retell the epic Welsh folk tale Mabinogion ,this is the first of eleven stories due over the next couple of years it was publish late last year .

  Owen Sheers was familiar to me from his television appearances on numerous poetry programmes ,he decide to tackle “Brawen,daughter of llyr ” for his novella white ravens .His interpretation moves the story to the second world war and telling the story of Mathew O Connell a Irish man who  came over to england at the start of the war to fight and eventually get injured in  due course which is where the story really starts as he is hand a secret assignment to fetch some new ravens for the tower of london .He has to go to a farm in  deepest Wales ,he arrives a little early for the chicks so stays at the farmer house with a brother and sister and over the course of time falls in love with the sister and heads back to Ireland  after delivering the chicks .where they marry and start a new life but not all goes well to find out more you ll have to read the book .

“can I take a look?” Mathew asked,approaching the table.”just a peek,” ben said  “They’ve only jus’ settled.Don’t want get ’em all worked up again”

scene where Mathew first meets the ravens at the farm

         Sheers writing is poetic and the two main characters are well-rounded and believable .having not read the original its hard to tell if this is a good interpretation of the story .the original is available in  a newish edition from Oxford world classics .many thanks to

bookrabbit for send me this.

   do you like modern retelling of folk tales ?

    do you think poets make great novelists ?

the brutal telling by louise penny

this is the fifth in the chief inspector Gamache series of novels and the first i have read ,it is an old fashion whodunnit in the vein of marsh,Christie and dexter .the action is centre in Quebec in the town of three pines .where a hermit has been killed and there is a great cast of suspects .enter Gamache and his loyal team where they set up shop in the local b&b and set about investigating the crime in the grand tradition the spotlight of who was the killer is constantly moving a the puzzle unravels ,the tea\m end up in the woods .where Gamache compares how the hermit lived to Thoreau in Walden as he spys a copy in the wooden cabin .the case moves on and expands above the small artistic community in three pines to ex pat czech and the artistic community leading to a thrilling climax which i leave the reader to find out.

       style wise it remind me of morse or the midsummer murders ,there is scope here to make a great television adaption Gamche is a deep and complex character in the vein of morse or Alleyn .this book refresh my interest in crime fiction which is a genre i have neglect for a long while .

      In the hour or so drive into Montreal Gamache and Clara talked about the people of three pines ,about the summer visitors ,about the Gilberts,who Clara thought might stay now.

 just short quote from brutal telling

the cover is a picture of a log cabin in some sinister woods with some spooky yellow writing with the title

list so far for around world in 52 books

here’s the books so far no order

1.A winter book by Tove Jansson (finland)

2.The siege by Ismail Kadare (albania)

3.Artic chill by Arnaldur Indridason (iceland)

4.Cafe europa by Slavenka Drakulic (croatia)

5.The witches of portobello by Paulo Coellol(brazil)

6.The harmony silk factory by Tash Aw (malaysia)

7.The unnamed by Joshua Ferris(U.S)

8.The women and the ape by Peter Hoeg (denmark)

9.Blueprint for a prophet by Carl Gibeily (lebanon)

10.Zlatas diary by Zlata flipovic (bosnia)

11.Popular music by Mikael Niemi (sweden)

12.The bad girl by Mario Vargas Llosa(peru)

13.My life as a fake by Peter Carey (australia)

14.Autonauts of the cosmoroute by julio cortazar (argentine)

15.Potiki by Patricia Grace (new zealand)

16.2666 by Roberto Bolano (chile)

17.An African in Greenland by Tete -michel Kpomassie (togo)

18.Fado by andrzej stasiuk (poland)

19.Penguin lost by Andrey Kurkov (ukraine)

20.The passport by Herta Muller (romania)

21.Divisadero by Michael ondaatje (canda)

22.Senselessness by H.C Mayo (el salvador)

22.The carpenters pencil by Manuel Rivas (spain)

23.The intergation J.M.G Le Clezio (france)

24.Snow by Orhan Pamuk (turkey)

25.Intimate stranger by Bryten Brytenbach 9south africa)

26.Dream story by Arthur Schnitzler (austria)

27.Tranquility by Attila Bartis (hungray)

28.Wonder by Hugo Claus (beligum)

29.The eagles throne by Carlos Fuentes (mexico)

30.From the diary of a snail by Gunter Grass (germany)

31.The leopard by Tomasi Di Lampedusa (italy)

32.Tales from firozsha baag by Rohinton Mistry(india)

33.My fathers war by Adriaan Van Dis (netherlands)

34.Balzac and the little chinese seamstress by Dai Sijie(china)

35.The boat by Nam Le (vietnam)

36.The master and margarita(russia)

37.Collected stories by Gabiel Garcia Marquez (colombia)

38.Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga(zimbabwe)

39.The blind owl by Sadeq Hedayat (iran)

40.The Dalkey archive by Flann O Brien(ireland)

41.Tales of freedom by Ben Okri(nigeria)

42.First as tragedy,then as farce by Slavoj Zizek(Slovenia)

43.The belly of the atlantic by Fatou Diome(sengal)

44.A bend in the river by V.S Naipaul(Trinidad)

45.Awild sheep chase by Haurki Murkami(Japan)

46.The patience stone by Atiq Rahmi(afghanistan)

47.The snowman by jo nesbo(norway)

48.Brecht at night by Mati Unt(estonia)

49.Brokem Glass by Alain mabanckou(congo)

50.sleepwalking by  Mia Couto (mozambeque)

thats it so far need 11 more hope to get them by end of january

hadrian the seventh by fr. rolfe (baron corvo)

            Hadrian the seventh is the 1904 novel by the english eccentric Frederick Rolfe or as he styled himself Fr. Rolfe (baron Corvo ) .Rolfe spent most of his life fascinated by the catholic church and its workings ,trying on a number of occasions to enter the seminary to be come a priest hence he shorten his first name to Fr. Rolfe  to seem like a father.

            the story can be considered semi autobiographical ,bt maybe a dream life that Rolfe wanted  .It concerns George Arthur Rose a failing writer,chain smoker and cat lover who is whisked of to Rome ordained and ends up as the new pope as aa result of a deadlock on deciding who will be pope ,at that point rose becomes Hadrian the seventh of the title using the same papal name as the only other english pope .As the story unfold as he makes friends and enemies ,you get to see the workings of the church ,you ll laugh and cry as the story unfolds ,til the untimely end of Hadrian

    “they brought him before the altar ;and set him in a crimson-velvet chair asking him what  pontifical name  He would choose

 “Hadrian the seventh ” :the response came unhesitatingly ,undemonstratively  ”

on becoming the pope from Hadrian the seventh

  This volume IHADRIAN THE SEVENTH read was republished by nyrb classics in 2001 ,the cover is a lovely soft focus photo of the papal glove with nyrb usual block in top third with title etc

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