Category Archives: Reviews

What I’ve been reading lately, part 18

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

Evil under the Sun — Agatha Christie

Like And Then There Were None, this is set on a smallish island off the south coast of Britian — in fact, apparently, it’s a slightly differently fictionalised version of the same island.

The real Burgh Island Hotel, with the rest of the island behind it. From the hotel's own website.

The real Burgh Island Hotel, with the rest of the island behind it. From the hotel’s own website.

This time, though, it’s a bit more civilised, the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway at low tide, and Poirot is there to sort out what’s going on before too many victims succumb. Lots of very neatly laid false trails, well-planted clues, and a resolution that I didn’t at all see coming but which made sense once it was explained. One of the better Christies, though not in the very top rank.
Continue reading

What I’ve been listening to in 2016

Here is my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

ukulele

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 17

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

Happy Christmas, everyone! (Or, for those of you prefer a different holiday greeting, please read it as the one you prefer.) Thank you all, sincerely, for reading my wildly varying musings — and thank you even more for commenting and discussing. I deeply appreciate you all, including (sometimes especially) those of you who disagree with me!

christmas-sushi

And now, on to the last WIBRL of the year!

Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 16

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

And Then There Were None — Agatha Christie

Arguably Christie’s most ridiculous plot — it strands its principal cast on an island and features ten murders and a suicide. Yet also, oddly, one of her most successful books, both commercially and artistically. If Wikipedia is to be trusted, it’s not only Christie’s best-selling book, but the fifth-best selling single-volume book of all time (surpassed only by The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Little Prince and, er, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. All seven of the Harry Potter books make it into the top 20).

91zogk88yrl-_sl1500_

Is it worthy of that level of popularity? Well, no, of course not. Continue reading

On “On “On Monday I placed two apples””

In November 2016, an anonymous critic wrote a sustained analysis of Andrew Rilstone’s now classic essay “On Monday I placed two apples“. The critique was published without a title, and is referred to for convenience as On “On Monday I placed two apples”.

I was fortunate enough to receive in the post a pamphlet containing this analysis, from an anonymous sender. It is itself a fascinating piece of work. The author appears to have had unprecedented access to Rilstone, allowing him or her a level of insight into the creative process not previously seen in other critical appraisals.

full-cover-page001

Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 15

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

The Martian — Andy Weir (for the second time)

I read this not long ago; but having seen the film in the mean time, I was keen to re-read it. (As I own the paperback, I cheerfully pirated a copy for my Kindle. How do you like them apples?)

the-martian-20th-century-fox

I’m glad I did. Even though I knew what was going to happen at every stage, I enjoyed it just as much this time as I did before. I relish the brutal technicality of Mark Watney’s struggle to survive a year and a half on Mars alone, and I enjoy the leavening of humour, often at the most unexpected points.

Continue reading

Brief thoughts on Doctor Strange

I’ve never found Doctor Strange a particularly interesting character, but I was keen to see the eponymous movie for the two obvious reasons — Benedict Cumberbatch and the film’s role as part of the MCU.

doctor-strange-city-bending-179855

I am glad I did. Continue reading