Reading - June 2020

At Home by Bill Bryson (2010)
Billed as "A Short History of Private Life", this is neither short nor a history, really, but rather a way of combining various bits of information around a loose theme. The connecting thread is the rooms of a house, but too many of the items under discussion only relate very tangentially to the room in question. For example, the chapter on the nursery prompts a lot of information about the lot of the child in Victorian times, but nothing about why the nursery has its features; say, where cots came from. Always interesting but a bit random. And too long.
Visions Before Midnight by Clive James (1977)
This was my introduction to Clive James, age 18 - only ten years after the book was published. How long ago it seems now! I loved it then and love it now. James is incredibly well-read, frighteningly well-informed and very funny. He does occasionally come across as if he feel he knows better than everyone else, albeit with some justification in most cases, but I can put up with that. That all this wisdom can be contained with a collection of TV criticism still surprises people, as it no doubt did at the time, but that's both a reflection of British TV's breadth as well as that of his knowledge.
Guitar Magazine (July 2020 / Issue 382)
A review of various Filter-trons, which sound interesting - but given that I'm about to get my first set of P90s back in a guitar soon, I should play those a while before wondering about another pickup type!
The Crystal Bucket by Clive James (1981)
More amusing vignettes on the subject of whatever was on telly that week. The only thing that grates slightly is the occasional bout of casual sexism and racism, which, while entirely unexceptional at the time, would not be considered acceptable now. James made his name on TV with programmes making fun of foreigners, so it's not surprising to see it here, but it spoils the book slightly.

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