Tag Archives: Books

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John le Carré

Spy novels have always been a popular brand of book, with espionage being at the forefront of many thrillers and adventures. Most notably, there is Ian Fleming and his creation, James Bond, whose recklessness, only outshadowed by his enduring cool-factor, has captivated audiences for decades, primarily on the big screen where his exploits are shaken but not stirred (I couldn’t resist) with a squeeze of Hollywood glamour.

But then there’s this. Now, I’ve had the good fortune to read a fair amount of books for my age, with all sorts of peculiarities, but I was still relatively daunted at the prospect of reading a book entitled the seemingly gobbledygook name of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I’d heard of it over the last few years, and became more interested in it with the release of its film, in which it was dubbed the intellectual thriller, but really? I was getting confused at the title, never mind the actual book. However, I read on, unfazed, and boy, am I glad that I did.

To start I’d like to say that John le Carré is nothing short of a genius in terms of the scope of the book. You don’t need to read long before you realise how extravagantly complicated and intertwined all the threads of the plot will soon become, and it’s a wonder that he could ever get to anything near a conclusion with what he’s attempted. For something to be so seemingly random yet, eventually, so true is something magnificent, and should not be scoffed at.

The content of this enigma is George Smiley, an experience but now retired MI6 agent. He, however, is asked to come back to help as there is reason to believe there is a Soviet Mole up the hierarchy of the system. Why him? For he’s the only one that can be trusted.

The narrative starts of with pace, the key events which make up the background coming through interrogations and flashbacks, before you have a lot of cards at the table with many possible solutions. You quickly realise that the Mole has the power, and that he has and will continue to have much influence in the Cold War if he remains, so it is vital for his stamping out. I shan’t say anymore in fear of giving anything away, but I hope that this backdrop will entice you to read (and perhaps re-read if you don’t get it first time round) the book. Once you get past the jargon (which I found definitions for on the internet), you’ll find one of the most intricate plots you’ll ever read.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

Sorry for the lateness, everyone. A few things have cropped over the last few weeks, so I have been delayed in updating the blog, so oh well.

Anyway, as of late I have been reading The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins and, having finished it a while ago, I must sing my heartfelt if late praises.

It is quite simply a wonderful book which portrays a very simple fable on grand scene. Set in a forest, it is about two brothers whose job is to collect cones, hence they are cone-gatherers. One of them, however, has a physical disability, yet is still amazing at climbing the trees and collecting the cones at great heights.

The grounds-keeper, however, has a vicious hatred for this man, the likes of which are the most passionate which I have ever read. He plots constantly to get rid of him, and tragedy is inevitable.

In his book, Jenkins explores great themes of innocence, deformations, morals and hatred, putting them down for trail in the simplest and most eloquent of manners. I shan’t write too much of the contents of the book in case of spoiling it, but you can take my word in saying that is a truly beautiful book.

Tagged , , , ,

Discoveries Through iPad

English: The logo for Apple Computer, now Appl...

Image via Wikipedia

After much swiping, fiddling and general tinkering, I am starting to get to grips with my new iPad. Thus, I am now reading, typing and even listening to words with a certain type of joy. Though the iPad is not half as good as my Kindle for reading alone, as the latter device is lighter, smaller and has, of course, that iconic ink–like screen, there has been a few apps for consuming books which have taken my fancy, namely:
iBooks: the official Apple way to explore literature. Very nice.
Kindle: probably my favourite reading app, purely because I have my entire Amazon e–book library waiting in my archive.
British Library 19th Century Books: a brilliant collection of Victorian literature from the British Library, as mentioned in my “Merry Christmas” post. 100 books for free, and more if you subscribe.
Audible: audiobook merchant flying Amazon’s flag.

Also, for writing:
iWriter: a minimalist platform which lets you type with ease (as I am doing now). A function for italics would be appreciated, but it is a distraction free way of writing.
Pages: Apple’s official offering, which it claims to be the most advanced in the mobile industry. Good for more complex word–processing issues.

And, of course, who could forget the one and only…
WordPress: an app to keep this blog going. Bit primitive, and more features are wanted, but, nonetheless, a fast way to blog.

In short, the iPad’s literary potential, though not its primary function, are well above–average. Some may be faulty, some limited, but all suffice to my meagre needs.

Tagged , , ,

Merry Christmas

I’d just like to say Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you get a good, festive variety of books! I suppose I should say that I’m writing this from my brand new iPad while reading a nineteenth century edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelly on an a British Library app! Now that’s what Christmas is all about…

20111225-151903.jpg

Tagged , , ,

BBC Two’s Sherlock Holmes

Chinatown, London. Benedict Cumberbatch during...

Image via Wikipedia

I know it has been ranted, raved and reviewed in its thousands over the last few days, but I just had to take this place to declare my truly giddy anticipation for the 2nd series of BBC Two’s Sherlock Holmes. Benedict Cumberbatch will retake his role as Holmes while Martin Freeman shall trod along a few steps behind. It is bound to be a wonderfully well-crafted piece.

One of the few reasons I am so excited was on the sheer amazingness (Lord, there goes my vocabulary as a red zig-zagged line proclaims my inaccuracy) of the last three part series. Not only was it a good introduction to newbies to Holmes, but also rather enjoyable for Sir Artur Conan Doyle nerds, obsessing over each and every point of deduction. It deconstructed the aspects of the cases intricately, and its modern re-telling was witty and enjoyable (especially the detective’s love of nicotine patches in place of the classic pipe).

And this is not even to mention the cast, in which my respect for the skills is immense. Martin Freeman resumes his role with grace which I have become more than familiar with, and Cumberbatch is second to none as far as the character of Sherlock Holmes is concerned in my view (sorry Robert Downey Jr.), and I am sure they will both, alongside the rest of the actors, actresses and all those working behind the scenes, will continue with another great series from the greatest detective stories of all time. LONG LIVE HOLMES!!!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Kindle Bashing

The Amazon Kindle 2

The dreaded but much appreciated Kindle... Image via Wikipedia

I have been bashing my Kindle bit lately. Not on purpose, of course, but by accident, repeatedly. I’ve dropped it on countless occasions, each time drawing in my breath, silently praying that it will survive and thanking the cover which protects my device in the hope of the Kindle’s survival, and, perhaps more importantly, the continuing of my reading.

The Kindle is not my primary format for reading, but it does play a vital role in my literary cycles. This is mainly due to the vast array of free extracts and, more importantly, classics which I know I can both browse and own without paying so much as a penny. That much is key.

However, the pure, physical and quite possibly tea-stained book still holds place in my heart. After all, I still use a fully functioning library and have a small family collection which I like to dip into, not to mention the insecurity I feel every time I carry my Kindle in my bag (“Is it still in my rucksack? Perhaps I left it back there. I’ll just check my bag for the seventeenth time this hour…”), and the aforementioned tension when I drop it. These problems will, of course, wear away with time, but, having had it for over half a year now, I can only wonder how long that will take.

For, as we should all know, reading and, indeed, any form of recreation should be consumed without responsibilities. You should not be worrying about this or that or what if or maybe… It is, after all, the book that really matters. Until then, I suppose the Kindle will never really take over my reading habits completely, books free or not. But, man, am I glad to use it still.

Tagged , , , , ,

The Interrogative Mood – Padgett Powell

Cover of "The Interrogative Mood: A Novel...

Cover of The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?

Well, here I go: my first book review. Jeepers!

Anyway, a book I have been dipping in and out of, and have been reading in a reasonably chronological order (not as easy as it sounds in this case) is The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell. What makes the book special? It is made entirely of questions.

Yep, you read right. Just questions and queries, without a single answer, for a considerable amount of pages. When I originally bought the book, I had no intention of buying it, and had not even heard of its author (who, by the way, wrote Edisto which was nominated for the American Book Award way back in 1984), never mind the work itself. However, it was the iconic front cover design which drew me in, which consisted of a seemingly confused man holding a dauntingly red question mark amidst the white background in which it lies. Curious, I walked over to the place where it stood and picked up a copy. I was instantly hooked.

The mere idea of a novel written with countless questions bewildered me, and, after reading it, you realise the sheer technical ability of the author. The fact is that the concept of this book shouldn’t work, and shouldn’t be published; it’s only Powell’s amazing ingenuity which keeps it going. Indeed, in this case at least, I would be more willing to describe the author as an inventor or, perhaps more fittingly, a wordsmith compared with the terms artist or writer. It is a construction of interconnected questions, which depend on each other to make sense while keeping their random-like feel. Without this sense in the chaos, the book may still be readable, but barely remarkable in its flow, perhaps even the work of a child. Powell, however, retains this.

In fact, he does so in such a way as to explore the depths of modern culture and humanity to a microscopic level, bringing up thoughts and matters which needed such an arousing. I mean, as to take a question from the top of my head, where do you stand in relation to the potato? OK, admittedly that wasn’t the best example of his soul-searching, but instead a showing of his absurd surrealism which is deployed during the work, which are just as important as any of the other questions. Indeed, from the vast plains to the tiniest molecules, Powell leaves nothing untouched, and an interestingly strange section of questions concerned on the matter of what you would say if Jimi Hendrix suddenly offered to play some guitar to you was one of my favourite parts, and the narrator (or should I say questioner?) was a character which you could really connect with thanks to his flaws.

In short, this is a great book. A grand machine of a novel, with great mechanisms and tiny intricacies, it truly shows the work of a technical expert, mastering what seemed to be the impossible by taking the 2nd-person narrative (a rarely used mechanism in itself) to the extreme. I mean, who said inventiveness was gone? Because, whoever did, Padgett Powell just proved them wrong.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: