A Good Read: Your Book Suggestions

uair01

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True Fictions from an Unreal City​

by Iain Sinclair


The capital had become an illuminated cruise ship, a floating casino for oligarchs, oil sheiks and multinational money-launderers; a vessel, holed at the waterline, staffed by invisibles on zero-hour contacts, collateral damage of war and famine and prurient news reports, huddled in lifeboats.”

If you like the bleak poetic prose you might like this one. One reviewer writes:

Brexit, Trump, gangsters, the London bike programme, the Shard, WG Sebald, The Mole Man, a murdered soap actress, an obscure book from 1935, Haggerston Park, Haggerston Baths, as well as an ever shifting, supporting cast of artists, poets and writers, are all pieced together here to make up a colourful and eventful jigsaw of a journey.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2163229453
 

NomDeGuerre

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Halfway through Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley. It's a ghost story (of sorts) set, predominantly, in an isolated farmhouse in 1970s Yorkshire. Excellent, so far, and I haven't been this scared of a five year old since I first watched The Omen.

Crying out to become a 'Ghost Story for Christmas' instalment on the BBC.
 

Ogdred Weary

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Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

Hitler wakes up in 2011. At first he stumbles round Berlin wondering why Herr Starbuck has a coffee shop on every street. Then he becomes a YouTube sensation.

That books sounds oddly prophetic.

I recently read A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny. Narrated by a sentient hound who is the watchdog/familiar of a cursed Jack who might be "The Ripper", he is one of several familiars serving a variety of familiar sounding characters: two grave robbers, a witch, an electricity obsessed "Doctor", "The Count" and a few others who are playing a game, which may or may not cause Armageddon and involves some Unspeakable Things in other realms.

It's a short, breezy read and the references are plenty but are done lightly, the atmosphere fun and game-like in itself you are broadly aware of what's going on immediately but never completely certain of the full picture, even by the end. A great of the prose is dialogue between familiars who are al playing their cards close their chests.
 

JaneD

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That books sounds oddly prophetic.

I recently read A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny. Narrated by a sentient hound who is the watchdog/familiar of a cursed Jack who might be "The Ripper", he is one of several familiars serving a variety of familiar sounding characters: two grave robbers, a witch, an electricity obsessed "Doctor", "The Count" and a few others who are playing a game, which may or may not cause Armageddon and involves some Unspeakable Things in other realms.

It's a short, breezy read and the references are plenty but are done lightly, the atmosphere fun and game-like in itself you are broadly aware of what's going on immediately but never completely certain of the full picture, even by the end. A great of the prose is dialogue between familiars who are al playing their cards close their chests.
Zelazny is oddly under-appreciated nowadays. I think Lord of Light is one of the best books ever.
 

Herr Cloaca

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The Undertaker's Daughter by Kate Mayfield

'On the last day of 1959 my father, the Beau Brummel of morticians, piled us into his green and white Desoto in which we looked like a moving pack of Salem cigarettes. He drove away from Lanesboro, the city in which we all were born, and into a small town on the Kentucky and Tennessee border. It was only a ninety-minute drive, but it might as well have been to Alaska.

When our big boat of a car glided into Jubilee we circled the town square and headed towards the residential section of Main Street. My father pulled the car over and our five dark heads turned to face a huge, slightly run down house. My parents were total strangers to this tiny enclave, but it didn't matter because my father had finally realised his dream in this old house, which was to own his own funeral home.'
 

Ogdred Weary

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The Undertaker's Daughter by Kate Mayfield

'On the last day of 1959 my father, the Beau Brummel of morticians, piled us into his green and white Desoto in which we looked like a moving pack of Salem cigarettes. He drove away from Lanesboro, the city in which we all were born, and into a small town on the Kentucky and Tennessee border. It was only a ninety-minute drive, but it might as well have been to Alaska.

When our big boat of a car glided into Jubilee we circled the town square and headed towards the residential section of Main Street. My father pulled the car over and our five dark heads turned to face a huge, slightly run down house. My parents were total strangers to this tiny enclave, but it didn't matter because my father had finally realised his dream in this old house, which was to own his own funeral home.'

I assume you liked it? Could you tell us more about it?
 

Herr Cloaca

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I assume you liked it? Could you tell us more about it?

Erm. This was during the segregation era. This fellow "took care" of the white people in the town. There was another undertaker who did the blacks coloured people people of colour. There was all this embalming and open coffin stuff we don't do over here.
There was some eccentric widow who always wore red, and the undertaker would always drive her to church on Sundays, and ultimately he inherited her house, which seems to have been some kind of wooden mansion like the house in Bates Motel. By the way, it's not fiction - it's the memories of the author. As a teen, she snogged a black boy, and somehow the rumour got out, and they could never see each other again, cos he'd get strung up from the nearest lamppost had it been proven.
 

Frasier Buddolph

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The Confidence Men by Margalit Fox
How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History

Harry Jones and Cedric Hill are two British officers captured by the Turks in WWI and imprisoned in a remote Turkish POW camp. To stave off boredom, Jones, a lawyer, makes a Ouija board and stages elaborate seances to entertain his fellow prisoners. His seances are so convincing that many of the prisoners actually come to believe that Jones can communicate with the dead. It's not long before an Ottoman official comes to Jones with a question: Could Jones use his spirit-world connections to find a huge treasure rumored to be buried nearby?

Seeing an opportunity, Jones teams up with Hill, an accomplished magician, to devise a long con on their captors that will ultimately lead to their escape and the court-martial of the camp commandant.

A ripping good yarn with Fortean elements. Highly recommended.
 

uair01

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This looks good:
https://www.cambridge.org/us/academ...ages-3rd-edition?format=PB&isbn=9781108796897

How was magic practiced in medieval times? How did it relate to the diverse beliefs and practices that characterized this fascinating period? This much revised and expanded new edition of Magic in the Middle Ages surveys the growth and development of magic in medieval Europe. It takes into account the extensive new developments in the history of medieval magic in recent years, featuring new material on angel magic, the archaeology of magic, and the magical efficacy of words and imagination. Richard Kieckhefer shows how magic represents a crossroads in medieval life and culture, examining its relationship and relevance to religion, science, philosophy, art, literature, and politics. In surveying the different types of magic that were used, the kinds of people who practiced magic, and the reasoning behind their beliefs, Kieckhefer shows how magic served as a point of contact between the popular and elite classes, how the reality of magical beliefs is reflected in the fiction of medieval literature, and how the persecution of magic and witchcraft led to changes in the law.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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Just finished this, it's right up my (under a concrete motorway flyover, next to a deconsecrated graveyard) alley.

61oTPL-pASL.jpg


"There is a Britain that exists outside of the official histories and guidebooks – places that lie on the margins, left behind. A Britain in the cracks of the urban façade where unexpected life can flourish. Welcome to UNOFFICIAL BRITAIN.

This is a land of industrial estates and electricity pylons, of motorway service stations and haunted council houses, of roundabouts and flyovers.

Places where modern life speeds past but where people and stories nevertheless collect. Places where human dramas play out: stories of love, violence, fear, boredom and artistic expression.

Places of ghost sightings, first kisses, experiments with drugs, refuges for the homeless, hangouts for the outcasts.

Struck by the power of these stories and experiences, Gareth E. Rees set out to explore these spaces and the essential part they have played in the history and geography of our isles.Though mundane and disregarded, they can be as powerfully influential in our lives, and imaginations, as any picture postcard tourist destination.

This is Unofficial Britain, a personal journey along the edges of a landscape brimming with mystery, folklore and myth."

http://www.unofficialbritain.com/unofficial-britain/
 

JaneD

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Mentioned this on the Jeffrey Epstein thread but Fall by John Preston about Robert Maxwell was absolutely gripping. It traces his life and business dealings and i think it explains a lot of what he did. And, of course, the appalling treatment of his children, which made them what they are today.
 

SleepyPanda

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Halfway through Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley. It's a ghost story (of sorts) set, predominantly, in an isolated farmhouse in 1970s Yorkshire. Excellent, so far, and I haven't been this scared of a five year old since I first watched The Omen.

Crying out to become a 'Ghost Story for Christmas' instalment on the BBC.
Oh it's so odd and creepy isn't it? I loved it.
 

DougalLongfoot

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?
 
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Yithian

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?

Hardly a novel—neither are some of those—and a bit off track, but Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is suitably intriguing. Tolkien's version is very readable, though I'm told others are more accurate in a scholarly sense.
 

DougalLongfoot

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Hardly a novel—neither are some of those—and a bit off track, but Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is suitably intriguing. Tolkien's version is very readable, though I'm told others are more accurate in a scholarly sense.
Thanks, I'd forgotten that one, which I have also read many years ago. Will dig it out for another read.
 

SimonBurchell

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?
I can't check my bookshelf at the moment, but I have a decent collection of classic Arthurian romances from 12-14th centuryish, I'll see if I can dig a list out for you tomorrow, if no-one has beaten me to it.
 

Frideswide

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?

William Morris did lots - have a start his poetry?
 

Min Bannister

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Don't know if they are strictly Arthurian but if you like tales of Knightly valour then I can't recommend Arthur Conan Doyle's Sir Nigel and The White Company highly enough. There is more chivalry, adventure and mind boggling violence than you would have ever thought possible and they are written with a fantastic gentle humour.
 

SimonBurchell

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?
Ok, as promised, here goes, not including those you already listed:

Lancelot of the Lake, trans. Coron Corley, Oxford University Press
The Quest of the Holy Grail, trans. P M Matarasso, Penguin Classics
The Death of King Arthur (La Mort le Roi Artu) anon. Trans. James Cable, Penguin Classics
The Life of King Arthur, by Wace and Lawman, Everyman
King Arthur's Death (Morte Arthure/Le Morte Arthur) trans. Brian Stone, Penguin
Three Arthurian Romances: Poems from medieval France, trans. Ross G Arthur, Everyman
Arthurian Romances, Chretién de Troyes, Penguin Classics
Tristan, Gottfried von Strassburg, Penguin Classics
Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Penguin Classics
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Penguin Classics (Tolkien did a good translation too)
The Romance of Tristan, Beroul, Penguin Classics
I'll also throw in The Lais of Marie de France, Penguin Classics, although I can't remember if they are strictly speaking Arthurian or not.
 

Baron Scarpia

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I have been reading M R James quite a lot recently. Have written up some thoughts concerning 'Martin's Close' compared with Bram Stoker's 'The Judge's House': I have an interest in 17th century history and how this era has been portrayed in subsequent centuries, so was intrigued to see how both stories feature Judge Jeffreys, the notorious 'hanging judge' who dealt with the captured rebels who took part in the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. Wrote some thoughts here https://aburntship.blogspot.com/2021/12/martins-close-mr-james-short-story-set.html
 

Spookdaddy

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I have been reading M R James quite a lot recently. Have written up some thoughts concerning 'Martin's Close' compared with Bram Stoker's 'The Judge's House': I have an interest in 17th century history and how this era has been portrayed in subsequent centuries, so was intrigued to see how both stories feature Judge Jeffreys, the notorious 'hanging judge' who dealt with the captured rebels who took part in the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. Wrote some thoughts here https://aburntship.blogspot.com/2021/12/martins-close-mr-james-short-story-set.html

Great stuff.

I'm not sure if you're aware, Baron Scarpia, but we also have a dedicated M R James thread, here - which is always worth a bump.
 

bugmum

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I'm looking for good Arthurian novels/tales.
I've already read (over a number of decades):
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Thomas Malory
TH White
Stephen Lawhead
Bernard Cornwell
Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Any really good ones I've missed?
I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley many years ago, and it remains in my bookcase as a well-thumbed edition.
 

Mythopoeika

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I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley many years ago, and it remains in my bookcase as a well-thumbed edition.
I must admit that I've never read any MZB.
Reading about her just now makes me doubtful that I will.
 
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