Suggestions For A Good Read

Moooksta

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Just finished “The Man Who Invented The Daleks – The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation.” by Alwyn W. Turner. A biography not only of the man himself but the Golden Era of Television in the UK, and Nation’s contributions to that and also Fortean television are well chronicled and explored.

He started with Milligan, stole the Daleks from Hancock, gave us The Slyther – (A Dalek keeping a pet?!?), convinced The Saint, The Avengers and The Baron that pearls can be dissolved in red wine, explored Post-Industrial-Post-Plague Britain in The Survivors before delivering a show named after the lead character who wasn’t in the show anymore but inadvertently creating the blue print for Season cliff-hangars that would be copied by later U.S. Fortean Television themed programming.

And it could have been so much different if ABC had made “The Dalek Chronicles” back in ’67.

If you’re a Who fan you’ll enjoy it, if you’re a fan of Steed and Simon Templar or The Persuaders, it’s full of insight into those Lew Grade / ITC gems as well.

And there’s always a bomb counting down somewhere.
 

Yithian

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Troubles by J. G. Farrell: Waugh meets Wodehouse with a dash of proto-Fawlty Towers. Set in the Irish War of Independence - painfully constipated, but farcically hilarious throughout (and ultimately tragic, as the setting suggests) I've ordered the next instalment in the series 5mins after finishing this. It won a (Lost) Booker prize - if that means anything in particular.
 
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theyithian said:
Troubles by J. G. Farrell: Waugh meets Wodehouse with a dash of proto-Fawlty Towers. Set in the Irish War of Independence - painfully constipated, but farcically hilarious throughout (and ultimately tragic, as the setting suggests) I've ordered the next instalment in the series 5mins after finishing this. It won a (Lost) Booker prize - if that means anything in particular.
I'm a big fan of J G Farrell. The Siege of Krishnapur is one of my all time favourite novels (and the Collector one of my favourite fictional protagonists). Much as I don't wish to make assumptions about other people's tastes, I'm pretty sure that you, Yith, will absolutely love it.
 

Yithian

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Spookdaddy said:
theyithian said:
Troubles by J. G. Farrell: Waugh meets Wodehouse with a dash of proto-Fawlty Towers. Set in the Irish War of Independence - painfully constipated, but farcically hilarious throughout (and ultimately tragic, as the setting suggests) I've ordered the next instalment in the series 5mins after finishing this. It won a (Lost) Booker prize - if that means anything in particular.
I'm a big fan of J G Farrell. The Siege of Krishnapur is one of my all time favourite novels (and the Collector one of my favourite fictional protagonists). Much as I don't wish to make assumptions about other people's tastes, I'm pretty sure that you, Yith, will absolutely love it.
I hope so - it's in the post along with The Singapore Grip.

Two things stood out for me. Utterly believable dialogue and an instinctive perception of the inner turmoil and passive-frustration of the Brit - albeit the Brit of 90 years back. The number of times I - perhaps a lot of us - have smiled sociably and replied "Oh, good thanks... fine, fine" or "Can't complain" whilst inwardly seething... Or have marched into a room with every intention of letting so-and-so know just what a bastard he has been only to end up helping so-and-so carry a pot-plant or agreeing to help fix his computer... :D

Well, anyway, it still rings very true.
 
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Martov and Zinoviev: Head to head in Halle
by Ben Lewis and Lars Lih

A cracking read as the the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party) of Germany debated its soul as it met to discuss affiliation to the Communist International in October 1920. Some of the documents have only just been translated into English.

While I would lean more towards the line of Zinoviev, Martov makes some telling remarks when he criticises the use of terror by the Bolsheviks.

“We are on the field of battle. The audience in the hall is divided in two sections: it is as if a knife has cut them sharply in two. Two parties are present.” Grigory Zinoviev’s description of the Halle congress of the Independent Social Democrats (USPD) in October 1920. Would the USDP and its 700,000 members opt for the Third International or attempt to stay a halfway house floating uneasily between communism and official social democracy? The Halle congress would decide.

"Should the German communists join the Communist (or Third) International? If the question no longer sounds very pressing, many of the arguments and answers that emerged from both sides in this debate have proved remarkably relevant to everything that has happened since. A political drama of the highest order ... I could not put this book down."

Professor Bertell Ollman, department of politics, NYU, author of 'How to take an exam and remake the world' and 'Dance of the dialectic: steps in Marx's method'
"At a time when the left still remains far too often ignorant of the events of the German revolution and its aftermath from 1919-1923 it is a great thing when a young scholar and activist like Ben Lewis makes available the record of the Halle congress in English."

Ted Crawford, 'Revolutionary History' Editorial Board
"Ben Lewis and Lars Lih are to be commended for making available to a new generation these speeches at the 1920 Halle congress of the USPD, one of the most remarkable moments in the history of the European socialist movement."

Peter Hudis, co-author of 'The Rosa Luxemburg reader'
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/m ... e/16810553
 

Yithian

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I recently came across a very cheap hardback edition of Ramsey Campell's Cold Print, of which I was dimly aware from Call of Cthulhu role-playing references and a tattered collection of Mythos tales I have had for years. I write this all with the caveat that I haven't yet ventured beyond the second story of the collection - and, to be honest, I'm not sure I ever will. From others' descriptions I had pictured something entirely up my alley: Lovecraft in creepy rural England with a British twist on the mythos (I was thinking Blackwood, Machen, M.R. James); what I got was dross, pages of it on end: utterly dreadful prose with cloned plots. The much-lauded Severn Valley setting seems (thus far) completely undistinguished - it could be anywhere rural in the West; the characters are also totally two dimensional as they blunder into a tedious sea of recondite adjectives and cliche. The author's preface itself says, in short, that the author doesn't rate the work at all, was (and still is) amazed by the nurturing patience of August Dereleth at whose suggestion and with whose help they were originally published, and is doubtful of the value of republication. At the time I took this to be mere self-deprecatory bonhomie, but to my horror (the only gleaned from what I've read so far), it is pretty much 100% accurate.

I'm I missing something here? Are there diamonds to be found in these dunghills?
 

Mal_Adjusted

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GNC

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theyithian said:
I'm I missing something here? Are there diamonds to be found in these dunghills?
Ramsey Campbell is one of the finest horror writers the UK ever produced, although by his own admission his early stuff was slavishly influenced by Lovecraft. Give his later works a go, for short stories Dark Feasts has some excellent examples, and for novels The Face that Must Die and The Hungry Moon are terrific chillers. I usually can't go wrong with this writer, it's a shame he can't get published in the UK anymore.

Although I'd avoid his film column in Video Watchdog magazine, because it's simply him giving a plot summary with a paragraph of observation at the end. The fiction's great, though.
 
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Just read Martin Cruz Smith's, Gorky Park.

For some reason I'd always rather overlooked this book as a bit of an airport novel, but I find I've done it a great disservice. It's a lot more convincing than some more recent forays into the Soviet Union, probably because it doesn't appear to be trying too hard to convince at all. One of the reviews states that Cruz Smith understands the importance of 'not wearing your research on your sleeve', which is a perfect observation of his style. It's not that it doesn't feel authentic, because it does - very much so. But Cruz Smith avoids that tendency, which I find very common in more recent writers, to try and squeeze every ounce of detail out of their research - which I find, like listening to a liar over-elaborate his version of events, tends to be counter-productive.

Lucidly written, very well paced, with a believable plot and equally believable characters. Thirty years on it still feels an awful lot fresher than a significant section of more recent crime fiction offerings. Recommended.
 

GNC

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theyithian said:
gncxx said:
theyithian said:
...it's a shame he can't get published in the UK anymore.
Do you know of any particular reason? Changing fashions? Poor sales? Dark forces set against him?
He was never a "big name" like James Herbert is, it was just a downturn in popularity in his style for the UK publishing industry, but I'm sure he's not that bothered as he has a lucrative American contract to fall back on.

Shaun Hutson, I believe, featured a character called Ramsey in one of his books - you can guess what happened there!
 
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Anything by Jonathan Aycliffe; its like X rated M R James. Wonderful powerful genuinely chilling work, particularly "The Matrix" about a university researcher drawn into the sinister world of a black magician, from whom he then tries to escape.

It's a pity that Aycliffe, which is the nom de plume of Dennis Maceoin (and Daniel Easterman) doesn't write more within this genre.
 

rynner2

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I like the crime novels of Michael Connelly. They're usually centred on L.A. Defence Lawyer Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer), or L.A. cop Harry Bosch, though sometimes both characters will appear in the same book.

That's the case in Connelly's latest, "The Reversal" (2010), where Haller and Bosch co-star, as it were. But something's different from the usual formula, because here, for the first time in his career, Mickey Haller is leading the Prosecution in a re-trial of an old murder! But the typical elements of detective work are woven into the drama of courtroom encounters, and, as usual, nothing is quite as it seemed at first. No doubt there will be more twists and turns as the plot develops...

Highly recommended.
 
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thegreenknight1 said:
Anything by Jonathan Aycliffe; its like X rated M R James. Wonderful powerful genuinely chilling work, particularly "The Matrix" about a university researcher drawn into the sinister world of a black magician, from whom he then tries to escape...
Thanks for this recommendation. I'm only about a third of the way through, but I'm enjoying it. I love a good ghost story and am constantly on the lookout for decent shivers, but I always end up somewhat disappointed by more modern efforts and returning to the likes of M R James and E F Benson.

The props and setting are quite Jamesian, but I'd say that the atmosphere of dread was a bit more in the way of Lovecraft. And it is very atmospheric - to the point of being really quite unsettling sometimes. All helped by the fact that I know the settings well and can easily follow the main character through a darkened Edinburgh.

Thanks again - good stuff.
 

Spudrick68

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More Project Gutenberg updates for anyone who may be interested:

Aesops Fables

Curious Church Customs & Cognate Subjects edited by William Andrews

Ecclesiastical Curiosities editged by William Andrews

The Herriges Horror In Philadelphia (A Full History of The Whole Affair. A Man Kept In A Dark Cage Like A Wild Beast As Alleged In His Own Mother & Brothers House) - Anonymous.

The Empty House & Other Stories by Algernon Blackwood

On Secret Service - Detective-Mystery Stories Based On Real cases Solved By Government Agents by William Nelson Taft.

:D
 

Spudrick68

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More Project Gutenberg updates for anyone who may be interested:

Aesops Fables

Curious Church Customs & Cognate Subjects edited by William Andrews

Ecclesiastical Curiosities editged by William Andrews

The Herriges Horror In Philadelphia (A Full History of The Whole Affair. A Man Kept In A Dark Cage Like A Wild Beast As Alleged In His Own Mother & Brothers House) - Anonymous.

The Empty House & Other Stories by Algernon Blackwood

On Secret Service - Detective-Mystery Stories Based On Realases Solved By Government Agents by William Nelson Taft.

:D
 

SHAYBARSABE

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Spudrick68 said:
More Project Gutenberg updates for anyone who may be interested:

Aesops Fables

Curious Church Customs & Cognate Subjects edited by William Andrews

Ecclesiastical Curiosities editged by William Andrews

The Herriges Horror In Philadelphia (A Full History of The Whole Affair. A Man Kept In A Dark Cage Like A Wild Beast As Alleged In His Own Mother & Brothers House) - Anonymous.

The Empty House & Other Stories by Algernon Blackwood

On Secret Service - Detective-Mystery Stories Based On Realases Solved By Government Agents by William Nelson Taft.

:D
Many, many thanks!
 
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A New History of the SS by Adrian Weale. Clearly written, cant say it was a joy to read but it breaks new ground. It illutrates and explains how the SS grew from a protection squad to an organisation with millions of members.
 

GNC

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Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. Not his best, but even below par Vonnegut is above many writers. Ends with the ominous warning: "We are still in the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages - they haven't ended yet."
 

CarlosTheDJ

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I'm going to recommend my friend's first novel, you can get it for the bargain price of £1.53 from Amazon!

Meta Magik by Zero Jones

When Smokey Joe wakes to find what he thinks is an alien at the foot of his bed, it signals the start of the weirdest weekend ever. Escaping the alien he meets Babydoll, a beautiful young woman who may be psychic or psychotic. She introduces him to a world of magik, drugs, and mystery.
Meanwhile Joe is being pursued by a homicidal children’s entertainer, while his friend and employer, Stan, has problems of his own; an experiment he is working on appears to be signalling immanent Armageddon.
In one weekend Smokey Joe will learn about love, adventure and the nature of reality itself…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/MetaMagik-ebook/dp/B006UJTIBW/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1325952479&sr=8-10
Written by one of the diamondest geezers in the world!
 

Yithian

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Well, I finally knocked Our Mutual Friend on the head after a couple of months of intermittent but largely pleasurable reading. But it's the size of the thing! How can you go about recommending 830 closely-typed pages of anything unless it's just the best thing ever - which it isn't. The whole thing was published in instalments over nineteenth months - and in places it shows. There are frequently passages of descriptive brilliance, characters which (In contrast with many reviewers) I could picture and found interest in, and a huge sprawling set of evocative locations; however, it has a huge cast of characters (though probably no more than Bleak House) and it goes on for ever before tying the bundle of threads in conclusion, with repetitions in tone if not actually actions, which no doubt benefited serial readers but grate on the modern glutton.

Long stories aren't the problem: when divided into books proper, but these combined editions are just off-putting. I've loved the Lord of the Rings, The Sea of Fertility and others (not tried Proust or Powell), but they all offer time to regroup and digest between volumes; I can't break up a book between its covers, that just seems wrong.
_____________________________________________________

It's The Comedians next by Graham Greene before returning to J.G Farrell...
 

Synchronous

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Just finished reading 'Magic and Mystery in Tibet' by Alexandra David-Neel.

An absolutely fascinating account of around 14 years the author spent wandering around Tibet in the early part of the 20th century.

In fact, it's sent my mind on a particular train of thought that I may well post about once the thoughts have achieved some sort of order.
 
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theyithian said:
Well, I finally knocked Our Mutual Friend on the head after a couple of months of intermittent but largely pleasurable reading. But it's the size of the thing! How can you go about recommending 830 closely-typed pages of anything...
After reading The Dumas Club by Arturo Peréz-Reverte I bought a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. Although obviously familiar with the title it really wasn't something I'd naturally settle down to reading, but for years I'd been hearing it referred to as a favorite novel by many writers - and Peréz-Reverte was the last straw.

Anyway - 1243 pages in the Penguin Classics edition :shock: (Not counting notes.)

I've not finished it, and tend to dip in and out between reading other titles; I know a lot of people hate doing that but fortunately I've got a good plot memory. I'm bingeing on Scandinavian crime fiction at the moment and swashing my buckle in warmer climes makes a nice change.

(Anyone interested should buy the Robin Buss translation; apparently the older one, which some editions are still based on, is old-school, but not in a good way - it's been bowdlerised for a start.)
 

Yithian

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I taught a translated, abridged AND graded edition of The Count of Monte Cristo: less than 90 small pages! (And not my choice)

The first chapter was quite leisurely and rather enjoyable, but the rest of the book was just a high-speed romp where characters are introduced and then die or disappear a few pages later. Motivations for actions seemed to come from out of nowhere and be decidedly ropey. And, worst of all, the main characters changed their names and titles and have similarly named offspring so often that I was truly lost - never mind the teenage English learner!

I'm sure the original is better; I'd hope so.

As to real books, I'm reading (and teaching) To Kill A Mockingbird, and it's good. I feel like somewhat of a late-comer. Anyway, the 'voice' of Holden Caulfield is one of the most authentic and believable of any I've ever read - and it's surprisingly funny, in a way.
 
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