Reading - April 2018

Spirit Of Talk Talk by James Marsh, Chris Robert & Toby Benjamin (2012)
Talk Talk are one of my favourite bands and I bought this luxurious book in a moment of madness. It's a three part book: a band history, a broad selection of quotes from famous musicians, and  detail about the cover art, the latter unsurprising given that James Marsh is one of the authors. I guess I bought this hoping it would somehow enhance my enjoyment of Talk Talk's music (particularly given that there's never going to be any more), but of course that didn't work. Details about the artwork are interesting but parenthetical, and the many, many quotes diverting but largely irrelevant. And knowing that the participants came from pretty mundane backgrounds doesn't change how marvellous the music sounds - which is really what it all comes back to.
The Guitar Magazine (Vol 29 No 8)
Presumably these guys know their market but this month there are no guitars under £1500 reviewed, and I found the ridiculously uncritical look at PRS's carbon-copy of a Strat somewhat grating.
Set The Boy Free by Johnny Marr (2016)
I really enjoyed this, a big book but a very straightforward read. Marr doesn't get into any technical depth about his work - perhaps understandably for an autobiography aimed at the mass market - but you get the sense of how hard he's worked. The Smiths accounted for only about five years of his career, and there's plenty he's done that I wasn't aware of, so lots to go and find.
The Best A Man Can Get by John O'Farrell (2000)
By turns insightful and moving, and annoying. Parts of it read like excerpts from stand-up shows that never quite made it, which, given the author's past (and present?) as a gag-writer for a number of well-known shows and figures, could well be the case. Funny in parts, true in others, and the ending is a bit sudden and too neat, but it's enjoyably short and easy to read. 
The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982)
During the Great Book Excision of 2017, I saved this because, despite not having read it for twenty years or more, I remembered it as a sweet, charming digression into Taoism, as illustrated by the tales of Winnie-The-Pooh. Since I am sure the book hasn't changed, I suppose I must have done, because reading it now, I find it trite to the point of vacuity. Hoff's assertion that you can do the Right Thing if you will only clear your mind and listen to your Inner Nature isn't really different from memes on Facebook declaring that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it; both embody wishful thinking that sounds lovely but says nothing. In addition, the idea that there's some sort of perfect ancient Eastern wisdom that we have somehow diverted from is clearly bollocks. (And in an odd coincidence, I found my sister also read it, for the first time in decades, but entirely independently, at the same time!)
The Vinyl Detective: Written In Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel (2016)
My friend Nat dropped this on my desk one morning and said I had as much time as it took him to get a coffee to read the first few pages. He thought I'd like it, and he was right. I'd ordered it (from the library - only 70p to reserve a book!) within the hour. The idea is fun - basically a murder mystery centred on records - and the execution good, although I thought it was a touch too long. For some people, the tendency of pretty young women to throw themselves at the narrator might spoil it but I like that.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)
I've been reading this in spare moments on my phone for the last couple of months and have finally completed it. I originally read it in my teens, in a Reader's Digest condensed version, and while the overall shape of the story remained with me, most of the details haven't, so it's nice to revisit it. That said, I didn't find it a particularly compelling read - but as a way of passing the time while waiting for other things, it was fine.

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