31/10/2016

Reading - October 2016

The Rainmaker by John Grisham (1995)
Probably my favourite story of Grisham's, with lots of interesting twists and turns, a great verdict (of course) and a nice little romance on the side (I'm always a sucker for a romance). Oddly though, despite being narrated in the first person, you don't get a great sense of who the main character is.
The Week (1 October 2016 / Issue 1093)
Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn (2013)
A charming account of Tracey Thorn and Everything But The Girl's unusual journey through pop music in the last thirty years. You get some sense of the oddity of being a pop star. I've come away from this and her other book, Naked At The Albert Hall, with a real respect for her and a wish to revisit some of their music.
The Week (8 October 2016 / Issue 1094)
Guitar & Bass (November 2016 / Vol 28 No 02)
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008)
A really cool novel about hacking, security, encryption and the state. A bit lecturing at times, reflecting its target audience of "young adults" (teens, I suppose) and a clear attempt to make them care enough about the subject to get involved. I don't know if it's worked or been successful, but certainly I'd be keen for B to read it, and the others when they're old enough. It's also a good story (although the ending is a bit sudden and a tad inconclusive) and kept me reading (on my phone, since, interestingly, it's released under the Creative Commons license).
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham (1992)
A fun, if somewhat unbelievable thriller.
The Week (15 October 2016 / Issue 1095)
The Fermata by Nicholson Baker (1994)
When I first read this - probably 15 or more years ago - I thought it was very good, but now I'm not so sure. Nicholson Baker's ability to pick up on usually unobserved but common mannerisms, items and phenomena is still here in abundance but the subject matter - a man who can stop time and uses it to undress women for his own amusement - gives me a queasy feeling. His writing is superb and the more pornographic sections quite amusing, but maybe now I am more sensitive to the issues it raises.
Guitarist (November 2016 / Issue 413)
It's One For The Money by Clinton Heylin (2015)
I'm cheating a bit by including this in my list of books I've read, since I got less than a quarter of the way through before giving up, but I'd had enough (and the only reason I got that far was that I had nothing else to read during a train journey). A potentially very interesting history of music publishing is ruined by numbingly boring detail and the author's insistence on strict chronological sequence. Normally I prefer a history that starts at the beginning and doesn't jump around, but in this case I, like (I would bet) most people, would be primarily interested in the facts about publishing cases I know about; maybe the Northern Songs saga, or the fuss around "Bitter Sweet Symphony". Since the first half of the book barely takes us out of the fifties, there's a lot of tedious trivia about people even I have never heard of to wade through first. There's an interesting book to be written about the subject, but this isn't it.
The Week (22 October 2016 / Issue 1096)
How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt (2015)
Entertaining but over-simplified account of the rise of music online
Thud! by Terry Pratchett (2005)
Neil Gaiman says that Terry Pratchett's fury at the unfairness of the world  "[...] was the engine that powered Discworld." That anger is very evident in the first half of this book, which is as unvarnished a parallel as any I've seen in his books - in this case, of blinkered, inward looking, religious fundamentalists of all types. The rest of the book plays out in typical Discworld fashion, centering on Samuel Vimes this time, with cameos from Captain Carrot and Sergeant Angua, two of my favourite characters (from Men At Arms). 
The Week (29 October 2016 / Issue 1097)

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