celticman's blog

Andrew Miller (1992) Ingenious Pain.

When you are asked to review books, a number of prompts are translated into numbers. For example, you are asked to award a mark out of ten for literary merit. I often cheat here. If I like a book, it gets nearer ten than one. After all, even the ingredients on the label of a brown sauce bottle have enough literary merit to get five. Ingenious Pain gets a ten, because his sentences sing and you can get your teeth into them. His characters have a...

Cathy Rentzenbrink (2015) The Last Act of Love.

Everybody has a cat or dog story. I’ve also read one about horses. Cathy Rentzenbrink is a reader like me, well, probably better than me. She read a book a day, sometimes two, after her brother died. She did a lot of boozing. Went a little mad, finished her degree and got married to a man she loved. Then she got divorced, but, hey, nobody’s perfect. Her brother, Matthew, was perfect, but never lived long enough to unperfect himself. He was born...

Matt Haig (2020) The Midnight Library.

An easy read. Like picking a magazine from a rack. Fling in a bit of philosophy. Sprinkle with maxims. Challenge yourself to live the best reading life you can. Jean-Paul Sartre: Life begins on the other side of despair. ‘Every life contains many millions of decisions. Some big, some small. But every time one decision is taken over another the outcomes differ. An irreversible variation occurs, which in turn leads to other variations.’ Aristotle...

The Keeper, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, written by Michael J Schofield and Marcus H Rosenmüller, director Marcus H Rosenmüller.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000zhk8/the-keeper https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bert_Trautmann I usually check out late-night films to see if there are any worth watching. I wasn’t sure of The Keeper . Advertised as a biopic of Bert Trautmann, my first thoughts were it was something to do with music, and I probably wouldn’t like it. Before I pulled up the preview, I realised it might have something to do with goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann...

9/11: Inside the President’s War Room, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, produced and directed by Adam Wishart.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000z8p5/911-inside-the-presidents... Hagiography (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) any biography that idealizes or idolizes its subject Around 3000 United States citizens were killed in what has become known as 9/11. This is A Day in the Life of President George W. Bush. A ticking clock. The rest is a history of good guys and bad guys, when 9/11 became shorthand for President George W. Bush can-do...

Kazuo Ishiguro (2010) Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.

I’m not a fan of Kazou Ishiguro. I know he’s won the Nobel Prize in Literature and that says something about me, as if I’m lacking in something. And I am. The Remains of the Day . Universally lauded. This more than any other book got Ishiguro his major prize. It was also like Never Let Me Go made into a film. Here’s the thing, I liked the films better than the books and I didn’t like the films much either. Art for Art’s Sake. You know the...

Henry Marsh (2014) Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery.

I’m sure I’ve read Henry Marsh’s book before. Almost a quarter of our blood supply is dedicated to providing energy for the brain. When things go wrong, brain surgery is the last resort. What makes Marsh different is not that he’s a brain surgeon, but that he’s also a great writer. Marsh tells us he’s grown more conservative over the years. Not conservative in terms of treating health care as something that should be floated on the market with...

A.K.Benjamin (2019) Let Me Not Be Mad: A Story of Unravelling Minds, published by Bodley Head, London.

Stephen Fry, who had his own much publicised breakdown, writes on the back fly-leaf: ‘A perfectly extraordinary, not to mention an extraordinarily perfect – tense Hitchcockian psychodrama. I have rarely read a more haunting and enthralling account of descent into madness.’ A.K. Benjamin is a therapist working in London. His patients are given nom-de-plums and anonymised, ‘JB,’ ‘Lucy’, ‘Michael,’ ‘Jane,’ ‘Dr Samuels,’ ‘Brad76,’ ‘Murray,’ ‘You...

Elena Ferrante (2019) The Lying Life of Adults

I read the first 40 pages of The Lying Life of Adults . I’ve read most of Elena Ferrante’s fiction and non-fiction. It was to me a familiar story of Neapolitan middle-class life in a fashionable apartment. A brilliant father who studies and lectures and publishes. A beautiful mother, who is also brilliant, but less so, being a woman. And an insecure daughter that needs to be both brilliant and beautiful and fears she is nearer. Imagines herself...

Great Scottish Writer—Neil M.Gunn (1941 [1989]) The Silver Darlings.

Great Scottish Writer—Neil M.Gunn (1941 [1989]) The Silver Darlings. The Silver Darlings , referred to in the title, are herring. Neil M.Gunn’s most popular novel was published by Faber & Faber in 1941. Think about that. T.S.Eliot was the main man at Faber & Faber. The phony war with Germany was over. Britain was in retreat and awaiting imminent invasion and possible starvation as U-boats sunk tens of thousands of tons of merchant...

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