Kennedy For The Defence

As holiday reading goes, George V Higgins may not be everyone’s first choice. When you’re sitting on the beach, do you want to read about rainy Boston and a succession of people swearing at one another and about one another? Well, it turns out I do, so Kennedy For The Defence, a book that feels as though it may be quite autobiographical, was the one I took with me to Western Australia. Continue reading “Kennedy For The Defence”

Split Images


I’ve been reading an old Elmore Leonard crime.novel as a palate freshener between Expanse novels. Split Images was published in 1981, and, wonder of wonders, is now available electronically in the Singapore library system, despite being as far from those things as one might imagine. Continue reading “Split Images”

Visible Misery


I’m going to begin with a massive generalisation which oversimplifies things far too much, but does at least save time, and we’re all busy, right? Here goes: Americans love visible misery, whereas British people are the exact opposite.

Examples of this: the old joke about a Brit who goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on his first week in L.A. Somebody stands up and croaks “I haven’t had a drink in 5 years.” Applause from everyone except for the Brit, who is choking and spluttering “You can’t have had to drive every night!”

Or computer games. In the 1980s, we had Chucky Egg, where you attempt to control a monochrome egg-shaped bloke wandering through a series of 2-dimensional landscapes, and he always dies. The Yanks had Oregon Trail, a text-based ‘adventure’ where your bold pioneers inevitably die of dysentery, their fate reported by a line of text inching across the screen. And people remember both of these games with affection. Maniacs.

Obvuiously, for a well functioning society you need both people who will get up and travel thousands of miles in the hope of something non-existent, and then come back to boast of their travails, and also people who will recline on their sofas going “Good God, man, what were you thinking?” You need Method actors like Dustin Hoffman, running up and down on the set of Marathon Man to get into character, just as you need louche people like Laurence Olivier, watching in bemusement and asking “why don’t you just act?” It takes all folks.

Unfortunately, in Cibola Burn, the fourth novel in The Expanse series, there’s a bit too much Oregon Trail for my liking, and not enough 8-bit egg=shaped heroes.
Continue reading “Visible Misery”

The Dirtiest Race In History


Last night I finished reading The Dirtiest Race In History, a book about the 1988 Seoul Olympics and Ben Johnson’s shortlived gold medal. A bit like a 100 metre sprinter, it starts powerfully and then loses momentum towards the end. But perhaps I ended up disliking it because it was described as “compelling” by the Sunday Express, that Beaverbrookian source of middle-England vituperation.
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The Churn


I really do seem to be going through a lot of books at the moment. This is what happens when you aren’t training for a marathon and the kids are fairly docile: there’s lots of extra time. I’m halfway through The Dirtiest Race In History, an account of the 1988 100 metres at the Seoul Olympics, and for a quick break i paused to read The Churn.
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Abaddon’s Gate


This morning, about 1 o’clock, I finished reading Abaddon’s Gate, the third book in The Expanse series. (Until I just checked on Google, I didn’t realise Abaddon was the Angel of Death in the Book of Revelation – I thought he was a character from Warhammer 40,000 most famous for the fact that the arms keep falling off his figurine.) Abaddon’s Gate begins a short while after Caliban’s War – spoilers to follow.
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