Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 20th-century-contemporary-britlit
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-03-10 22:28
Reading progress update: I've read 4%.
The Mirror and the Light - Hilary Mantel,Ben Miles

I've barely scratched the surface (we're just past Jane Seymour's rather startling wedding night), and I'm already settling back into the story as if it hadn't been years since I read the second book of the trilogy.  I just love being back in Cromwell's world, and still as much in awe of him (and Mantel's writing) as ever ... and already dreading the inevitable end.  This was SO worth the wait -- and then some.


I am very glad I read Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography of Cromwell in the interim, however.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2020-02-08 01:50
Reading progress update: I've read 72%.
Unspeakable: The Autobiography - John Bercow

I had more time to listen to this than I expected today and find myself glued to my phone -- this is riveting (even the bits about his early parliamentary career; and definitely his take on the role of Speaker: to be an advocate for Parliament and enable it to hold Government to account -- as well as the chapter the reforms he introduced, particularly those behind the scenes). And, of course, a large part of the pleasure is due to having Mr. Bercow read the book to me himself; he really does a stellar job.  Listening to him, even more so than as a result of his performance in the Speaker's chair (spontaneous quips and all), it is easy to imagine how he was capable of holding an audience captive from early on in his career -- if he hadn't chosen a path in politics, he'd easily also have done well in any other job requiring an ease at public performance (e.g., broadcast journalism or the stage).


There's less of an explicit analysis of his shift in view from the Thatcherism of his younger days to his decidedly more left-leaning present stance -- it comes across as a gradual progression in views, influenced in part (but apparently not exclusively) by his wife, a long-time member of the Labour Party.  However, while he stands by his earlier views and the manner in which he chose to express them at the time (his attitude seems to be "it was what it was and it's part of my history -- simple as that"), he doesn't shy away from characterizing his early political performance as "shrill" and in similarly unflattering terms.


Mostly, though, I'm loving his incisive (and insightful) analysis of the various governments, PMs, ministers, party whips, and other politicians he has witnessed in office over the course of the past 2+ decades, all the way to David Cameron

("I am reminded of the verdict of the man he worked for and considered a friend, Norman Lamont: 'Cameron was clever, but not profound.'  That is true.  In the pantheon of great leaders, the name of David Cameron will never feature.  In a list of opportunist lightweights, it will be at the top")

and Theresa May

(who "is not a bad person -- she wants the best for her country, without a clear sense of what that is: rudderless, without imagination and with few real friends at the highest level she stumbled on day to day, lacking clarity, vision, and the capacity to forge a better Britain.  In a contest as to who has been the worst Prime Minister since 1945, it is hard to choose between Anthony Eden and Theresa May"). 

Bojo and his cronies have already collected a few authorial broadsides as well, beginning with the takedown of Geoffrey Cox, Bojo himself and the prorogation diaster in the book's "Prorogue" (talk about an appropriately-titled opener) -- I have no doubt there is much more of the same to follow when we get to the actual Brexit chapter.  That said, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Bercow is singing the praises of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown -- as well as of the likes of Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin, Ken Clark, Anna Soubry, Yvette Cooper, Caroline Lucas and, interestingly, also JRM and Bill Cash (though he has little sympathy for their politics and none for their ERG / right-wing Tory cronies, particularly not Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom).  Similarly unsurprisingly, the entire clique of moneyed, entitled, public school / establishment figures within the Tory party are getting their much-deserved and well-argued kicks in the shins both individually and collectively ... he really has come a long way from his early days in the party.  Yet, he insists that he has always felt he was in a better place remaining a Tory and holding the party to account from inside, than by changing his political affiliation -- which, given how much those now calling the shots in the party have come to hate him, can't be an easy stance to take.  (No wonder they tried several times, though always unsuccessfully, to get rid of him as Speaker.)


I'm stopping now for the night but will probably finish this tomorrow.  Thanks to BT for yesterday's nudge!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-12-25 16:18
Bloody Stupid Johnson
Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett

"'It's a bathroom,' said Ridcully.  'You are all acting as if it's some kind of a torture chamber.'

'A bathroom,' said the Dean, 'designed by Bloody Stupid Johnson.  Archchancellor Weatherwax only used it once and then had it sealed up!  Mustrum, I beg you to reconsider!  It's a Johnson!'

There was something of a pause, because even Ridcully had to adjust his mind around this.

The late (or at least severely delayed) Bergholt Stuttley Johnson was generally recognized as the worst inventor in the world, yet in a very specialized sense.  Merely bad inventors made things that failed to operate.  He wasn't among these small fry.  Any fool could make something that did absolutely nothing when you pressed the button.  He scorned such fumble-fingered amateurs.  Everything he built worked.  It just didn't do what it said on the box.  If you wanted a small ground-to-air missile, you asked Johnson to design an ornamental fountain.  It amounted to pretty much the same thing.  But this never discouraged him, or the morbid curiosity of his clients.  Music, landscape, gardening, architecture -- there was no start to his talents.

Nevertheless, it was a little bit  surprising to find that Bloody Stupid had turned to bathroom design.  But, as Ridcully said, it was known that he had designed and built several large musical organs and, when you got right down to it, it was all just plumbing, wasn't it?"

Somehow, this read slightly differently this year.  I mean, I know it's supposed to be punning Leonardo da Vinci, but please ... B.S. Johnson?!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2019-12-23 22:53
24 Festive Tasks: Door 23 - Hogswatch: Book
Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer


Aaaand off we go for the grand finale of this year's Festive Tasks reads!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2019-12-12 16:18
24 Festive Tasks: Door 18 - Hanukkah: Task 3
High Rising - Angela Thirkell

Nighttime flashlight reading with complimentary cat.



Though if the eyes fail, there's always this ... (and to the cat, it doesn't make one iota of a difference!). 


(Task: Read a book by candle light (or flashlight).)


More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?