Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Reading List - English Scribbler

Summertiiii-ime, and the reading is easy. 6 months into the year and some of the year's must-reads become clear, and the days stretch out like one long balmy, hazy, sunny afternoon in the meadow... Oh wait, English Scribbler lives in London - so that'll be a unpredictable lurch between weirdly cold drizzle anytime they go to the park and uncomfortably humid sunshine whenever on the Underground. Oh well, best stay indoors and read. He wasn't planning to leave the flat much anyway. Except when the moon is full and the voices tell him he must hunt again...

1 : A Few Words For The Dead by Guy Adams
                   
I was a huge fan of Adam's Western horror series, and said as much in these very pages, but still haven't got round to his alternative M16 spy series, which began with The Clown Service and continued with The Rain-Soaked Bride. The third part has had some excellent reviews already in Starburst and elsewhere, and delivers a less-humorous yet more darkly enjoyable twist on the series so far, so it's high time to launch into this Bond/Who/Le Carre melange of a series properly, sat in a deck chair, with some cold Pimms and the distant sound of cricket.... (the sport, not the insect)

Quite frankly between those three books, having a 1 year old, and all that Pimms, I'll be amazed if I get to any other novels this summer, but these are all clawing at the garden fence -



2 : Find Me by Laura van den Berg



I love post-apocalyptic. I love road novels. I love the horror idea of a world gone mad (well, madder). Luckily, acclaimed shorts writer van den Berg's debut novel offers all that as her heroine is first stuck in isolation hospital and then wanders a landscape haunted by an Alzheimer's-esque virus outbreak. With many a glowing review, its apparently powerful look at memory and loss should make for a chilling and quiet read - perfect tonic for commuter heat on the Piccadilly line as Sweaty Armpit Man lurches towards my face...


3 : Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Another writer who, like Adams, I have only recently discovered is Daryl Gregory, whose We Are Completely Fine simply blew me away last year . Now he explores that novella's central character's past in Harrison Squared, which looks at Harrison Harrison's (sic- hence the title) childhood in a Lovecraftian town of sea monsters and missing mothers. It looks superb, and if it is any fraction of an element as good as Fine, I'll be a happy camper. Not that I'll go camping. Cos it will rain.


4: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood


Yes, that Margaret Atwood ! The venerable Canadian's latest follows a couple in a collapsing society who seek refuge in a community that offers shelter and a life in return for spending half the year in their prison. Unsurprisingly, negative complications ensue. A bit like a society that reelects a patently anti-civil rights, anti-working class, anti-welfare, pro-banking, pro-nuclear arms, pro-wealthy party because they believe the shite peddled to them via the rich elite press who are in comfortable cahoots with said party... Oh wait, no, that's speculative fiction gone crazy. No way that would happen. No way. As we sit trying to read in a the grey half-light of a 55degrees Fahrenheit June day and the children without school places no longer play in the streets for fear of knife crime because there are no nurses to patch them up anymore...

5: The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock 


Yes, that Michael Moorcock! The venerable Brit's first novel in a decade is an autobiographical look at post-WW2 London. "Mixing elements of his real life with his adventures in a parallel London peopled with highwaywomen, musketeers and magicians", according to the blurb, so it could be a bewitching and surreal mixture, like a Pimms, or an old man's confused mess, like a Pimms made after seven have already been drunk, and you've run out of cucumber...

6 : Two Year, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

Yes, THAT  Salman Rushdie! Shame is one of my favourite novels, and anything by him is of interest, but here Rushdie doubles the temptation with a refreshing direction and delves into a near-future New York City where a storm unleashes strange powers of the ancient Jinn upon a group of characters. Now, I love a bit of ancient Jinn as much as the next person, but doesn't New York really need better housing, a nicer police force, proper bike lanes and some decent cheap restaurants like London... oh, wait...


As for the easier-to-guzzle-through world of television and film, I'll be cautiously ignoring Jurassic World like the loud unwelcome bully of a film it is, finally getting round to Ex Machina, revelling in the new A.I. series Humans, and creating a software hack for Netflix to delete the astonishingly-weak Sense 8 from both the site and hopefully my memory banks too. And watching Glastonbury Festival on BBC, sobbing over my lost youth. Unless it rains on them all. Then I shall laugh and pour another warm Pimms.


Written by English Scribbler, who doesn't actually like Pimms very much and would much rather have an Oreo shake with a Woodford Reserve chaser, but has trapped himself in a cliched self-caricature of Englishness, and clearly is just looking for famous names on netgalley now and not bothering with all those topless dude YA books anymore... 


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