Reading - March 2021

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (2020)
This is, of course, a very clever book, as you would expect from Richard Osman. Clever in its plotting, clever in its use of language, but, above all, clever in its choice of setting and characters. Essentially a modern-day Miss Marple, set in a retirement village instead of an actual village, it is very up-to-date and very English at the same time, with a selection of characters who aren't stereotypes but nevertheless cover a nice spectrum of today's Britain. Osman, a man whose "real" job until recently was creating shows people would want to watch, is clearly now doing the same for people who want to read. I don't think it's criticism to suggest that a fair amount of thought probably went into what would appeal - and very successfully, clearly. None of which is to say that this book isn't very good, or to try and damn it with faint praise - I enjoyed it very much. Osman writes very well - definite shades of Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett, which is a Good Thing - and there's more then one scene that I found moving. Highly recommended. (and a big thanks to C, who bought it for my birthday!)
Ramble Book by Adam Buxton (2020)
I know vaguely who Adam Buxton is but I am pretty sure I have never heard or seen him do anything at all, apart from the "Help the Police" sketch which a friend sent me once and is very funny. So perhaps I should have watched more. Anyway, my lovely sister recommended this book because it's about growing up in the 80s while being slightly obsessed with David Bowie, which she said sounded like me for some reason.  And yes, it has plenty that rang a lot of bells. It's easy reading, Adam is pleasant company, and I enjoyed it.
The Guitar Magazine (April 2021 / Issue 391)
More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2020)
A follow up to the excellent How To Be A Woman, but one I found uneven and frustrating, even though I agree with so much of it. It starts off very light, almost like observational comedy - and when she's saying things like "all women have a cushion strategy" (pre-empted by Coupling there though!), this kind of sweeping generalisation is amusing, because it's (surely) tongue-in-cheek. But the tone of the book gets gradually more serious and those kind of statements become uncomfortably at odds with her obvious desire to help women escape exactly these kind of stereotypes that imprison them. I like the fact that she's changed her mind on some issues as she's got older, and she's eloquent as ever on the pressures faced by women. It just bothers me that, despite her upbringing in a very poor household, she now seems to completely live in media land. Obviously, getting harassed on Twitter is a real issue and a real problem - but is it a real issue for most women? Or just the ones she knows (who all happen to be public figures)? Very readable, very funny and very candid and definitely worth reading, but falls short as a polemic.

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