It’s that time again, kiddies.
I’m about to head off on my annual jaunt around the world, and I thought I would point you in the direction of some of my reading over the last month, and a couple of things I have saved up to entertain myself on the plane, in between glasses of Veuve and benzodiazepine-induced naps in my first class suite.
Of course, I’m starting off with the usual Doctor Who related writings.
First, Campaign by Jim Mortimore, which is set early in the Hartnell years. The lovely Philip Sandifer says of it that:
Character names shift rapidly – Susan goes from being Susan Foreman to Susan English, Ian and Barbara drop out to be replaced with Cliff and Lola, and the TARDIS is likely to become the T.A.R.D.I.S. at any moment. … [It is] violent, sexualized, and metafictional. … the story treats Doctor Who’s first season as a historical phenomenon. … In fact, just about every rejected, abandoned, or false path of Doctor Who in its first year is referenced here. … The characters die. A lot. Barbara is the first to die, and her death largely sets the tone – first of all, she is established as being alive prior to her death. Which I don’t mean in the normal sense by which most people are alive prior to death. No, I mean that we learn about Barbara’s death when Ian is gobsmacked to see that she is alive.
Ming Mongs will either love it or loathe it, largely depending on where they fall on the issue of “canon” in Doctor Who.* While it took me a while to get into, I fall on the side of “adore unconditionally”. It is, simply, the best Who novel I have read, and I have read a great many. It was rejected by the Whothorities and self published by Mortimore. You can find pdf versions of it on the usual corners of the internet. If you do, you may wish (as I did) to make a donation in Mortimore’s name to his nominated charity, the Bristol Area Down Syndrome Association.
Second (and I will move on to the non-Who in a moment), I thoroughly recommend Rich’s Comic Blog, and in particular the quite wonderful The 10 Doctors, which manages to juggle the first ten incarnations and a huge cast of their companions and enemies in a real ripsnorter of an adventure.
This month I also read The Prisoner of Zenda, and now wonder why it took me so long to get around to it. The novels struggling into being on my little laptop are littered with doppelgangers and princesses and fiendish plots and gallant rescues, but this has all of that, along with an easy elegance and economy of words that might make me despair if I didn’t love the damn book so much. Don’t, however, fall into the trap of reading the sequel, which takes the purity of the original and craps all over it in the first few pages.
Turning then to the pleasures that await me in the Kindle app on my shiny new ipad.
First, the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #3. Each edition is a collection of undiscovered tales from the pen of Watson (ably edited by the likes of Kim Newman) along with at least one of Watson’s more familiar stories (in the case, The Adventure of the Speckled Band).
I also have lined up all three books of the Hunger Games trilogy, Tales from Firozsha Baag (by the immensely talented Rohinton Mistry, whose A Fine Balance reduces me to tears every time I re-read it) and The Master and Margarita (which I confess to finding hard going so far).
Finally, I want to sing the praises of A History of the World in 100 Objects, not only because it is a fine book from BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, but because it is one of the first e-books that seems to me to take proper advantage of the kindle-on-ipad format, with beautifully reproduced colour pictures of every object into which you can zoom almost to your heart’s content. The resolution of some of the images is perhaps not all I might wish, but it is a fascinating opportunity to get up close to some of the finest exhibits from the Museum’s collections.
I think the only thing I am missing is a good mystery novel (preferably with lashings of blood and ultra-violence). Any suggestions?
* Although given the ending of the book, I can see no conceivable reason why Campaign is not good canon, other than sheer fuckery on the part of the purists.
The Prisoner of Zenda. Wonderful book. Of course, I am a sucker for the genre.
I just finished Tony Horwitz’ Midnight Rising about John Brown It’s a departure of sorts for Horwitz, as it’s a straight-up narrative history. Excellent. Also enjoyed Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin.
I am in the middle of Graham Robb’s Parisians.
I’m fairly certain that The Doctor himself could give a rat’s ass about the concept known as ‘canon’. People who bitch about that sort of thing deserve to have a Sonic Screwdriver shoved up their butt.
Depending on personal preferences, proclivities, and tastes, that could be torture or exquisite torture. I don’t judge.
I’m watching “Eat, Pray, Love” cause there is nothing much else on.
Has anyone read the book and if so was it any good. I’ve decided to try to read more than my usual “trashy romance novels” and pick up an occasional fiction book. Though I still love “romance” over espionage or mystery, or other.
So was “Eat, Pray, Love” any good?
Not much blood and no ultra-violence, but I’ve rather enjoyed Christopher Fowler’s “Bryant and May” series of mysteries. A kind of psychogeographical take on the British detective novel, steeped in London history and packed with eccentric characters. Definitely melodramatic and theatrical, though, rather than gritty and violent. The first is “Full Dark House.”
I’d say ‘Run Diary’ except it’s not HST’s best work. I mention it because
the movie is in limited release and Johnny Depp does him better than
But I do recommend “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail”
I feel it is a contemporary view as ‘wormhole’ to the past.
I got from the library a copy of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (not started yet) which covers I think the really first time that big financial interests were given government subsidies to gamble with.
No. It’s a trashy romance novel with new-age pretensions reminiscent of New York Times lifestyle articles. I like trashy romance novels but EPL was too annoying to work as escapist reading.
Sarah, get the app BookTrack, I have it for my iphone. it offers you the books and a soundtrack that keeps pace with your reading. First book I got was “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” I’m saving it for a lazy weekend, or a snowday.
You might also like the British Library Treasures app. You can tour the library on your ipad. Lots of great things in there, Principia, Guttenburgs Bible, a medieval Bestiary and other illuminated ms’s. Handel’s Messiah, lots of literary firsts, like a Shakespeare folio and early Austen etc. The current exhibit is Science Fiction. It’s got HGWells and Thomas More and Bulwer-Lytton
Are you on twitter yet?
Note to self: Never read it.
I loved everything about “The 10 Doctors” except the depiction of Three(Jon Pertwee). Every other Doctor looked spot on, but for some reason, Three looked like Phyllis Diller in an Edwardian men’s suit. Very distracting. On the other hand, without getting into spoilers, Nyssa of Traken had a Crowning Moment of Awesome by doing something that Doctors Five through Ten never had the guts to do.
Mike in NC
“Confederates In The Attic” and “Baghdad Without A Map” were both decent reads, if you’re a Horwitz fan.
Currently taking turns with chapters of “The Twilight Riders: The Last Charge of the 26th Cavalry” and “Neptune’s Inferno: The US Navy At Guadalcanal”.
Comrade Colette Collaboratrice
You are Santa Claus! I knew it!
I discovered at my library the mysteries by Colin Cotterill. These are set in early communist Laos and contemporary Thailand with native protagonists. I’ve read 3 so far and like them enough that I can probably get the rest by library loan. His most recent book Killed at the whim of a hat” gets it title and plot center from the GWB garbled profundity:
Boris Akunin, The State Councillor (or maybe it’s spelled Counselor in the translation although it should be Councillor). Not much of a mystery, but a really good thriller about Russian terrorists in Tsarist times. And there’s a fabulous movie of it, with Oleg Menshikov and Nikita Mikhalkov.
For mystery, blood and ultra-violence I have just finished Power of the Dog by Dan Winslow. Published in 2006 but if, like me, you missed it then you are in for a treat. The novel is a thrill-a-minute treatment of the war on drugs with great location development of Hell’s Kitchen, San Diego, Guadalajera and other parts of Latin America… and the gore factor is off the chart.
@lamh35: Haven’t read it, but from what I understand it’s kind of like the Tim Tebow of novels. Those who like it love it overmuch, causing a tidal wave of snarky backlash.
@FlipYrWhig: Weak-armed and over-Jesusy?
@Omnes Omnibus: Put that way, sounds more like Twilight.
There’s always the Anita Blake series, though I’ve only read Obsidian Butterfly. Lots of vampires and blood and sexy evildoers. The protagonist is female, the aforementioned Anita Blake, and a vampire hunter. She likes her work.
Terry Pratchett’s most recent, ‘Snuff’, as well as his old collaboration with Neil Gaiman, ‘Good Omens’. I need to get my Pterry fix before he voluntary chooses to meet DEATH. I was not aware that he was planning on assisted suicide at some point. :(
With a long plane trip coming up, I’d really like to read James Wolcott’s Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in the Seventies, but I don’t want to buy a hardcover glued wad of pages which would just litter up my small apartment. I’d pay good money to put it on a reader… but you can’t, it doesn’t exist in electronic form.
The publishing model currently sucks.
@Alexandra: That’s moronic. I won’t buy anything that requires moving dead trees around.
Eventually the luddites will be dead and the rest of us can get on with using last century’s tech.
Eat, Pray, Love is good. But once you find the truth about the circumstances of her writing it, it becomes less good. I would recommend it though. I would say it is a grade above a romance novel and several grades below literature.
ETA: It is much better than the movie. I barely got through the movie.
On my current “i really need to read this” list: (updated weekly) – fiction category:
The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao
Some of my favorites: ( I could read these over and over again)
Naked Lunch ( best with drugs – or sleep deprivation, or both)
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union
The Auto-Biography of an Ex-Colored Man (phenomenal)
Towing Jehovah ( a light, fun read)
The Gunslinger (poetic, vaguely psychedelic/”western” tapestry – nice mental imagery)
White Teeth ( This book is good. inexplicably so)
HHGTTG (hey – I like Twain too!)
Everything Alexander McCall-Smith has ever written.
I’m leaving many off the list – those were just ones that occurred to me offhand…
Lee Child’s Reacher novels are above average for the genre. TripWire probably has the most gore and violence, though starting at the beginning of the series is worthwhile.
I think that bloody, violent novels are more likely to be found in horror, but the only horror mysteries I know are already pretty famous, by Thomas Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephen King, Nancy Collins, and so forth. The goriest horror I’ve come across is by Poppy Z. Brite, and her latest novels (which I haven’t read) are supposed to have a mystery element.
Sarah Proud and Tall
Thanks. I just bought “Killing Floor” – it looks like exactly what I wanted.
Any book where vampires get killed (rather than pining and glowing in the moonlight) works for me.
I also recommend for old-school gamer-types Yet Another Fantasy Gaming Comic, and for ’80s fans the Dr. Who story Outrage (5th Doctor/Jem crossover), both from Rich’s Comic Blog.
After listening to David W. Blight’s ‘The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877’ from Yale, I have read:
Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves Maryland Narratives
The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B Du Bois
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass
The March – E. L. Doctorow
The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction – Charles Lane
Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War – Tony Horwitz
1861: The Civil War Awakening – Adam Goodheart
A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War – Amanda Foreman
Sarah, if you’re really interested in bizarre mysteries with blood, try any of the Burke novels by Andrew Vachss. They’re all great….but start with Blue Belle and Hard Candy if you want to dive right in.
And if you like a little humor mixed in, any of the Hap and Leonard novels by Joe Lansdale. You gotta love a writer who comes up with stuff like this, even if it’s recycled.
“There’s a redhead in there would make you write a hot check and rob a filling ststion.”
Of course, the Indiana variation is “talk dirty to me….MAKE ME WRITE BAD CHECKS!”
@Perfect Tommy: The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B Du Bois
I should have added that one. Great read.
A book by some dude named Tom Levenson has appeared on my kindle. Can’t say much about it since I’m only a few pages in, but so far so good. it seems to be about the inventor of the Fig Newton.
How about an entire series of good mysteries, with their share of blood and violence mixed in with humor, thoughtful solving, and reasonably accurate history? That’s what you get with Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco books, set in Rome in the time of Vespasian (beginning at 70 CE or so, before the loss of Pompeii and Herculaneum). There are twenty that I know of, and I am in the midst of rereading the ones I’d already read (I’m at #13, and had gotten to #15) in preparation for getting through them all.
@Alexandra: If it’s not available in electronic form, how about buying the dead tree version, torrenting the scan, and donating the physical object to a library? You will have paid for the book legitimately, be able to read it on your device, and enabled others to read it as well. (This clearly doesn’t apply to books that ARE available electronically, but if the publishers aren’t cooperating, this seems both a practical — oh, sorry, pragmatic — and ethical solution to me.)
I was just listening to I Am the Doctor from Proms 2010. (I love the music) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I80pc9jZ_t8&feature=endscreen&NR=1
I love the Doctor, all of them. Ive never read any of the novels and dont know where to start. For Who fans… the christmas special is soon here! Thanks for your Who posts, they make my day.
Hate to break it to you but ‘Obsidian Butterfly’ is probably the last decentish Anita Blake novel Hamilton put out. The first 7 (Guilty Pleasures to Burnt Offerings) are the blueprint for Supernatural-Crime adventures (gutsy, semi-supernatural heroine operating in a world where the monsters are acknowledged as real) and spawned a whole copycat genre.
Starting with ‘Blue Moon’ Anita Blake transforms from a tough, independent woman into a Mary-Sue for Hamilton’s kinky S&M sex fantasies. The series now is unrecognisable and revolves around Anita screwing anything that moves, in a variety of combinations, graphically described for page after page.
To be avoided. And I speak as someone who lurves the first seven books.
Kindle edition here. Nook edition here.