Category Archives: Reviews

What I’ve been reading lately, part 11

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

MAKING MONEY — TERRY PRATCHETT

By this stage, if you’ve been following the “What I’ve been reading lately” series, you’ll know what I think about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels by now. I think they’re great fun, very easy reading, and nowhere near as deep as some critics seem to think. Making Money very much falls under this description. I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I read it, thoroughly enjoyed it when I re-read it this time, and no doubt will thoroughly enjoy it again the next time I read it. But let’s not pretend Pratchett ever had anything very deep to say, beyond “Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was nice?

Orthodoxy — G. K. Chesterton

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 10

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

I have got far, far out of date with this blogging thread: I’ve read 49 books that I’ve yet to write about here, so I’ve forgotten much of the detail of the older ones and I’m going to be terse about many of them. Never mind, off we go:

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Night Watch — Terry Pratchett

And enjoyable installment in the Sam Vimes sequence: thrust back in time to when he first joined the Night Watch, he unwittingly becomes his own mentor. Lots more going on here, including an incipient revolution in Ankh Morpork, and Reg Shoe’s origin story. Continue reading

The Force Awakens was awesome and I loved it

As my buddy Matt noted, The Force Awakens nails the, “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes” quality of the original Star Wars — something that the prequels completely missed.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 9

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

The Man who Sold the Moon — Cory Doctorow

Not the Heinlein novel of the same name — which I assumed Doctorow would name-check, but he doesn’t. A pleasant enough near-future story of finding love in the midst of technology and music festivals. Passed the time painlessly enough.
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Oh, Doctor! How are you going to get out of this one? (The Magician’s Apprentice)

Somehow I’d managed to avoid all spoilers. Which is great, because The Magician’s Apprentice took me by surprise, repeatedly. The moment when the boy in the field of hand-mines told the Doctor his name raised the hairs on my arms. I was genuinely creeped out.

Warning: spoilers follow the break.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 8

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

Summer came, and I started to read a lot more books. But my diet became quite limited, because at any given moment while lying in the sun, it was more appealing to read another Agatha Christie to Terry Pratchett than to launch into something less comfortingly familiar. As a result, those two authors will dominate this installment, and I won’t have that much to say about some of the books. Wow, I really know how to sell a blog-post, don’t I?
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What I’ve been reading lately, part 7

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

I’m trying to move quickly to catch up with myself — I’m still a few months behind — so apologies if these books are not given as much coverage as they deserve.

Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words — Malka Marom

A truly fascinating set of three (very long) interviews, conducted many years apart, with the most endlessly fascinating singer-songwriter of them all. (If you don’t accept my assessment, ask David Crosby.) Malka Marom was a folk singer herself, so has a good angle on the issues that Joni is dealing with — personal, musical and poetic. They’re some of the most revealing interviews I’ve ever read, not in terms of salacious details but of slowly and effectively opening up essence of a person, revealing what makes her tick.

And I’d have to say that Joni doesn’t come out of it all that well, in the end. It’s apparent in all three interviews that she’s quite a self-focussed person, and that tendency becomes stronger and darker across the three interviews. Towards the end we read

I’m reliving old injuries. I’m reliving them and I’m telling the person off that I didn’t tell off. I’m trying to expel anger. And it hangs in the air and I go, ‘What that very satisfactory, when you said that to them? No.’ And then I kind of do it again.

For such a free spirit, she seems to find it hard to let go of old hurts and resentments. It’s a shame; but, no doubt, a part of what made her such an absolutely superb artist. And she really does stand alone.

Marom’s book is well worth reading for anyone who loves Joni’s work. Continue reading