OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Red on Sun 01 Nov 2015, 09:28

PeterCS wrote:Rebus is worth looking out for.

Wise move by Rankin to resuscitate him.

Yes I enjoy him as a character despite his saturnine disposition. Am currently reading Mo Hayder's 'Wolf' (the Caffery character is good) and will then move on to Tim Lane's book re. Peter Roebuck's death.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Thu 05 Nov 2015, 18:27

So just bought the new Rebus. I see it has been on my wish list since 21 March.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Sat 07 Nov 2015, 07:20

Halfway through. The best Rebus is one time.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Red on Sun 08 Nov 2015, 06:52

Am loving 'Chasing Shadows', it's very well written and provides great insight into a complex person. Roebuck had an IQ of 148 but his younger sister's was over 150. While we're talking books, didn't realise that Joe Root had already released one. Embarassed
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 11:22

Ok, so 8/10 for the new Rankin.

Stellar on detail and "dialogue humour" as ever (actually, most of the characters these days seem to sport the smart-deadpan repartee that used to be Rebus'  preserve); and the clever ever-expanding web of characters, plot and intrigue as usual (I'd say more characters than most in the series - and getting close to The Godfather in places, with gangsters left, right and centre stage - and a "who the hell do you trust, or rather how far, is anyone here not lying?" almost on a level of "Resurrection Men", which is probably my favourite of the whole series).

Also, outstanding how the author keeps matching his Edinburgh settings to a changing contemporary world (technology and its implications; cunning asides about the Independence Referendum; new language items along with the familiar Rankin phrases, such as   haar, flecks and angled (to the light); the continuously shifting cityscapes and thrawn, sceptically resistant land). Ullapool.

Contemporary main plot theme - with one particularly gripping passage - but also lots of contemporary adaptations of an older city.


You have to suspend disbelief with regard to some of the implausibilities, especially towards the end (some drive a coach and horses through logic,... so frost-glass your vision and enjoy the ride ...) I suppose that is more or less true of any thriller/mystery/crime novel.

Also interesting how the character of some of the main cast has changed. Fox, turned into Action Man because of changed professional circumstances, becomes an involuntary minor knockabout comedian. (Not so in his private sphere.) Cafferty seems - almost - to have been co-opted by Rankin into the circle of inner characters in a treacherous world (that is, narration and description are both done from his point of view, when he's in shot) - which is a far cry from his past, where he was the inscrutably cunning focus of evil. ~ As if that baton has been passed.

Excellent quality of writing, apart from anything else.

Highly recommended.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by lardbucket on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 11:37

Might give the new Rebus a go then; it's been a while.

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 11:39

I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads as there is no provision for 4.5. Probably the best crime writer since the death of Reginald Hill unless you prefer the more bizarre Stuart MacBride.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 11:44

Red wrote:Am loving 'Chasing Shadows', it's very well written and provides great insight into a complex person. Roebuck had an IQ of 148 but his younger sister's was over 150.  While we're talking books, didn't realise that Joe Root had already released one. Embarassed

Did it smell?


IQ, IQ .... hmmm. It's certainly a measure of intelligence, but only one - and within predefined, very circumscribed terms. There are various other forms of intelligence elided by Eysenck and others.

Such as understanding of other people's behaviours, and motivations (or even attempting to). And an intelligence of resourcefulness (experience may help - it doesn't invariably help; imagination may also help). And the intelligence of knowing yourself. ~ ~ And then, not least, "common bloody sense". ...

I may be brilliant at seeing which shape is the odd one out, which number comes next in the sequence, etc. But I may be very bunker-minded in other respects.

Such as knowing, or working out my trial and error, how to get the best out of other people, if I am captain. Such as how to go about tackling unpleasant situations. Whether seething to settle scores after the event in the most devastating manner is always the best policy. And how to prevent certain difficulties getting worse (or even arising in the first place), instead of twigging the ideal way to put things right in my own however brilliant mind.

Intelligence ...

I should add, Red, I am not having a go at you here (would be ironic). But asking how far IQ is a guide to human intelligence generally. And perhaps in Peter Roebuck's case in particular.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 12:05

taipan wrote:I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads as there is no provision for 4.5. Probably the best crime writer since the death of Reginald Hill unless you prefer the more bizarre Stuart MacBride.

I have to admit my crime reading is not wide. I got into Rankin because of his writing quality (and Edinburgh) rather than the genre. Have tried a couple of American writers but not got very far.

I keep meaning to try Val McDermid. From the same neck of the woods (industrial Fife) as IR, and v good reviews. Her non-fiction Forensics was a very well researched and written read, grisly though.

So I have no basis to agree/conclude Rankin is best. Or as they said of the farmer: He's out standing in his field.

I can only say I think he's brilliant, even when things creak a bit.


I found Standing In Another Man's Grave disturbing, and with plausibility creaks as well, but chillingly convincing as a trip into the horror mode. (Not so much Blair Witch as Faber's "Under the Skin" - another tale of "all along the A9 incidents" which must have given Rankin the original idea for his less flying-saucer-satirical-surreal but - because more earthed, more human - perhaps even more nerve-racking novel.)

"Shadow Bible" I thought suffered a bit by comparison with "Resurrection Men" (!), and was a bit more forced than some. Still worth twice the money.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 12:13

PeterCS wrote:
taipan wrote:I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads as there is no provision for 4.5. Probably the best crime writer since the death of Reginald Hill unless you prefer the more bizarre Stuart MacBride.

I have to admit my crime reading is not wide. I got into Rankin because of his writing quality (and Edinburgh) rather than the genre. Have tried a couple of American writers but not got very far.

I keep meaning to try Val McDermid. From the same neck of the woods (industrial Fife) as IR, and v good reviews. Her non-fiction Forensics was a very well researched and written read, grisly though.

So I have no basis to agree/conclude Rankin is best. Or as they said of the farmer: He's out standing in his field.

I can only say I think he's brilliant, even when things creak a bit.


I found Standing In Another Man's Grave disturbing, and with plausibility creaks as well, but chillingly convincing as a trip into the horror mode. (Not so much Blair Witch as Faber's "Under the Skin" - another tale of "all along the A9 incidents" which must have given Rankin the original idea for his less flying-saucer-satirical-surreal but - because more earthed, more human - perhaps even more nerve-racking novel.)

"Shadow Bible" I thought suffered a bit by comparison with "Resurrection Men" (!), and was a bit more forced than some. Still worth twice the money.

McDermid isn't bad. The Hiil/Jordan series is good but more psychological. To me Hill, was the best but guess some are put off by the TV series. The the books the dialogue really rattles along and he also tended to change style.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by lardbucket on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 20:35

Going back a bit, I always liked Joseph Wambaugh.

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Tue 10 Nov 2015, 21:29

Interesting little insight in Rankin's e-newsletter about his book - beyond the usual PR fluff ...

As some of you will know, I took last year off, in that I didn’t write a new book. As a result, Even Dogs in the Wild came sprinting out of the traps. I had a real blast writing it, and to think it began with two ‘moments’ . . .

The first was a picture that came to my mind one night: Cafferty, standing in his living room, facing the window, while outside someone raises a handgun and aims it at him. I had no idea who this person might be, or why they’d be doing that, but I knew I had to do something with that image.

The second was a bar-room anecdote. You’ll be shocked to learn that I hear a fair number of these, but this one resonated more than most. It was the story of a suspected drug dealer in a village, who dies (of natural causes). There are rumours that a large stash of cash and drugs is buried somewhere in the nearby woods, which lead to a treasure hunt as interested parties pick up their shovels and start digging. I was reminded a little of Treasure Island, the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, and wondered if it would work in Edinburgh – there’s something people want, and they converge on the city to hunt it down.

Two moments. Two pictures. That was all I needed to get me started.

But this is also, I think, a book about loyalty and family, about the baggage some parents hand down to their children. And yes, of course it’s a novel about Rebus, and Siobhan Clarke and Cafferty and Malcolm Fox. I do hope you like it, if and when you get round to reading it .
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Red on Thu 12 Nov 2015, 09:48

PeterCS wrote:
Red wrote:Am loving 'Chasing Shadows', it's very well written and provides great insight into a complex person. Roebuck had an IQ of 148 but his younger sister's was over 150.  While we're talking books, didn't realise that Joe Root had already released one. Embarassed

Did it smell?


IQ, IQ .... hmmm. It's certainly a measure of intelligence, but only one - and within predefined, very circumscribed terms. There are various other forms of intelligence elided by Eysenck and others.

Such as understanding of other people's behaviours, and motivations (or even attempting to). And an intelligence of resourcefulness (experience may help - it doesn't invariably help; imagination may also help). And the intelligence of knowing yourself. ~ ~ And then, not least, "common bloody sense". ...

I may be brilliant at seeing which shape is the odd one out, which number comes next in the sequence, etc. But I may be very bunker-minded in other respects.

Such as knowing, or working out my trial and error, how to get the best out of other people, if I am captain. Such as how to go about tackling unpleasant situations. Whether seething to settle scores after the event in the most devastating manner is always the best policy. And how to prevent certain difficulties getting worse (or even arising in the first place), instead of twigging the ideal way to put things right in my own however brilliant mind.

Intelligence ...

I should add, Red, I am not having a go at you here (would be ironic). But asking how far IQ is a guide to human intelligence generally. And perhaps in Peter Roebuck's case in particular.

I agree, I thought myself as I read that too, although within traditional measures it may explain why he was able to ace his law degree at Cambridge given that academia tends to cater for the conventional learner. Interestingly there are notable examples of those chalking up an exceptionally high IQ who tend to be regarded as a little on the eccentric side. Of course getting back to your IQ parameters, somebody just walking out of the forest having been raised by wild animals would probably not rate too high on the scale regardless of raw intelligence.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Thu 12 Nov 2015, 11:51

I remember hearing that Jimmy Savile had a very high IQ, supposedly. According to Mensa testing. (Some other unlikely candidates were publicised as Mensa exceptionals, TV celebs and such - can't recall who, though.)

I was struck at the time how Savile didn't necessarily demonstrate super-intelligence in his dull catchphrases and irritating LCD shtick. "Keith Lemon" standard, with even less wit. Cunning, was more the way he came across: cunning in making maximum (good) publicity for himself.

In fact, was more psychopathic than that.

Anyway, animal cunning or "superintelligence" - high IQ in itself is clearly a linear measure.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Thu 03 Mar 2016, 20:18

Just finished the second of two well-publicised English (but not only English) "cricket, history and war" studies first published in 2014.

(I had to wait for PB, 2015, and reduced. But then, I tend to be a wild reader too - various books on the go.)

Dan Waddell - "Field of Shadows"
Christopher Sandford - "The Final Over. The Cricketers of Summer 1914"

I'd recommend them both. But they are poles apart.

The first named is by Son of Sid. It tracks down a tour of Germany 1937 by a weird group calling itself "Gentlemen of Worcestershire" - despite the quaint local name, affiliations with the MCC. (Now there's a surprise.)

It's a (relatively) action-packed thriller with a lot of digging up of lost traces, some uncovered, still shrouded in mystery. The style is of "our intrepid local reporter on a mission to uncover the truth", so a mixture of exciting, conscientious gumshoe work, corny statements and wtf formulations (reminds me a bit of a cross between Steve Punt PI and Motty). And the garbled mangling of German is truly horrendous: "come on, Dan, get this checked and proofread".

But it's a great old yarn for all that. What does it say about the Nazi-friendliness of the MCC? Not perhaps as much as you'd hope, though not for want of trying.

Sandford's work is altogether more serious, professional historical standards and weightier style. He certainly takes on a huge double task: English cricket and cricketers in the last months before and the first year of the Great War, and a history of political and social developments in England in the same span of time.

It's written with a boatload of pity and compassion, and passages close to prose poetry. I'm not sure it doesn't veer a bit towards the conservative (he appears to frown at Blackadder IV), but maybe that's just me: and one of the strengths of the book is that the author takes on and combats popular misconceptions and myths of various sorts - especially the type created in and by misty-eyed retrospectives.

There was no (real) "Golden Age" of cricket ending in 1914.

There was very little sense evident of gathering cataclysm - even in 1914.

Cricket as a sport was neither at the forefront of a "lemming run" to war (my phrase, not his) - despite Grace's unexpected and (in)famous call to arms - nor especially "symbolic" of any enthusiasm for war, of virility, of particular heroism or folly. Cricket and cricketers were - on the whole - much like the rest of the population: caught up unawares in the shock and surprise.

This is all good stuff. The individual portraits are good in places - Sandford sews his book together quite well by featuring particular individuals throughout the book (Colin Blythe, Lionel Tennyson, Major Booth, Fender, Douglas, Hobbs ...). And thankfully, though it's a narrative movie of two years of English cricketing and social and some political history, it's not exclusively Anglocentric. Australia and South Africa both come into the spotlight - as well as what goes on "out there", from the hell of Somme to the hell of Gallipoli and beyond. In graphic recounted detail by the combatants, in many cases.

The main thing I regret in a fine book is that the thumbnail biographies of cricketing casualties and victims (and some survivors!) are so thick and many, that this slows the book right down. Regrettable, because in a sense, they are mainly the central focus of the book (see the title!).

Maybe the book should have been arranged in 2 parts, with a biographical section as part 2, (with refs to this throughout Part 1, the main narrative).

There is a comprehensive list of victims at the end of the volume, though, and a bibliography of sorts.

I now have Douglas Newton's "The Darkest Days" lined up on the launch pad. Already obvious this is a much more caustic, swingeing critique (if that is not too fine a word) on the British government of the time. Already evident he turns any expression of concern into a devastating scything attack on corrupt government ... sounds like Horace on a bad day on this Forum, except this is supposed to be professional history, I think.

Well, we'll see. I hold no torch for war - or warmongers, if warmongers they be, I hate to see a good case ruined by contorted-faced hysteria, though. The best condemnations are calm and measured.....

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Bradman on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 04:48

Actually got a friend trying to write a book about cricket at the mo. Says he's going to set up a website where people can contribute stories of cricket "played outside the comfort zone" (WTF that is).

As they're for non-attribution I'd personally be wary, but anyone with a desire to see part of their life story in print anonymously and with a desire to contribute to his retirement on the off chance it makes a motza should look out for it.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by horace on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 10:08

Just setting up to re-read Lessing's The Four Gated City. Read it over 40 years ago.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 10:13

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Tue 29 Mar 2016, 13:38

Bradman wrote:Actually got a friend trying to write a book about cricket at the mo.  Says he's going to set up a website where people can contribute stories of cricket "played outside the comfort zone" (WTF that is).

As they're for non-attribution I'd personally be wary, but anyone with a desire to see part of their life story in print anonymously and with a desire to contribute to his retirement on the off chance it makes a motza should look out for it.

With "friends" like these, ....
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by taipan on Tue 29 Mar 2016, 13:51

Read this yesterday. Interesting, as I didn't know much about rowing.

http://www.amazon.com/True-Blue-Oxford-Boat-Mutiny-ebook/dp/B00BFTSYDK/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1459255691&sr=1-4&keywords=True+blue

The new Rebus drops on 3 November.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by lardbucket on Tue 29 Mar 2016, 19:36

Finally had a chance to read 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. I will read it again, and soon. A very memorable book.

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by Ethics? The Gall! on Wed 30 Mar 2016, 00:14

lardbucket wrote:Finally had a chance to read 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. I will read it again, and soon. A very memorable book.
richard flanagan. another great tasmanian

i rate him above peter carey and up with tim winton among current australian writers
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by lardbucket on Wed 30 Mar 2016, 04:20

Tim Winton, Richard Fkanagan, Robert Drewe would be my 3 favourites. I enjoyed Carey's Bliss but never really took to his other books. So far, anyway.

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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by PeterCS on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 15:10

Eyyupp sithee!! ~ one on a fuller length ....

Harry Pearson - Slipless in Settle (2010)

The subtitle "A Slow Turn Around Northern Cricket" might lead you to expect a set of leisurely reports on various teams of tryers at humble club levels of cricket.

Well, it does contain a lot of (mainly amusing) tales from an impressive whistle-stop tour of club grounds in Cumbria, Northumbria, Yorkshire, Lancashire.

But there are also largely entertaining observations on more famous individuals of the past, some from the recent past, including West Indian, Australian and other Test players who had professional contracts with these clubs. And in passing quite a bit of detail about the history of the game (not only in the local clubs).

There's a lot about amateur-pro differences - of status, and tensions - not least about some amateurs of the getting handsomely paid.

A big focus is on - in some ways abiding - differences between "Northern" and "Southern" attitudes. (Which Pearson overstates a bit, for entertainment and comic value.)

The biggest hero - appearing  two or three times - appears to be SF Barnes. Though Staffordshire-born, he is a sort of classic super-Yorkie/super-Aussie in the author's eyes.

Barnes was feisty and awkward, a craftsman with a keen sense of his own worth. His manner offended just about everyone in the hierarchy of the English game. When Lord Hawke, the autocratic captain of Yorkshire and the MCC, angered by Barnes's refusal to go on a tour of South Africa, snapped: "We cannot understand you. You only play when you like", Barnes snapped right back: "And that is what I will keep on doing." For once Lord Hawke was rendered speechless.

SF Barnes played cricket with a remorseless, grim tenacity that endeared him to Northern supporters. "He was entirely dedicated to getting batsmen out", the Glamorgan captain Wilfred Wooller noted. "He had no use for anything or anyone that stood in his way."

Contrast:

Back in the 80s, a friend of mine reckoned you could tell if someone came from the North or the South just from his or her attitude to David Gower. [...> a bit of praise omitted here ...]

Southerners loved Gower. They praised his elegance, the delicacy of his strokeplay, his cavalier approach to the game. Northerners hated him. To hear my friend tell it, Gower had less guts than a kipper and was so lacking in spine his team mates had to carry him round in a bucket. [...]

During a John Player League match at Scarborough one year the bloke behind us greeted Gower's arrival by bellowing: "Hullo clouds, hullo sky, hullo caught at second slip waggling at a wide one."

Gower's autobiography was called "With Time To Spare". "Look at him," my dad would snarl whenever the England Number 4 strode out to the wicket. Feckless blond-haired little pillock."


More broadly, the book is also in a sort of extended elegy for older days & ways (eccentric, idiosyncratic, whether hard-bitten or at least memorably shambolic, but in any case rich in character and characters), especially whenever measured against certain overhyped, corporate-overfriendly, also over-solemn, counter-productively overtrained (injuries), character-stripped and for such reasons sadly ridiculous contemporary customs. (The Giles Clarke revolution comes in for a fierce satirical shellacking on all the above counts.)

[It] has to be said that these days there is far too much communicating going on across the playing fields of Britain. Team mates shout at one another, individual sportsmen bellow at themselves. Just about the only sports people who have so far failed to pump their fists and cry: "One hundred per cent, right now!" are boxers. And that's only because they're fearful the other bloke will seize the opportunity and knock their teeth out. [...]

A cricket match has come to resemble that point at a children's party when all the 11-year-old boys, hyper with sugar and E-numbers, start shrieking out their favourite catchphrases from "Little Britain". "Come on, to the end!", mid-off calls, clapping his hands. "Heads up, lads!", exhorts midwicket. "I am liking those areas, Nobby!", first slip cries to the bowler. "Toes, boys, toes", fine leg exclaims. "Let's keep squeezing!", point hollers. "I'm a lady!", yelps extra cover.


What's good here is that for all the only partly tongue-in-cheek lament, he doesn't in any sense sugar-coat the past. He rightly observes there was never a "golden age" of cricket. (Mired in money & corruption at its outset, grim underpayment of cricketers, etc.)

For me, the main downside of a very entertaining and in miscellaneous ways informative book is the magpie approach of the author. He finds a lot of gems, sets most of them nicely in a big shiny collection - but on the other hand, he doesn't much acknowledge sources, doesn't bother with an index or even list of contents either ... and falls prey to some inaccuracies of detail Pity!

Cracking read nonetheless, Gromit lad.
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Re: OT: What book are you reading at the moment?

Post by lardbucket on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 23:03

Nice recommendation.

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