Posts from 31st August 2003

Aug 03

Isn’t it a cliche

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 330 views

Isn’t it a cliche about tradespersons homes being the worst places to see evidence of their skill? Electricians and plumbers are known for having death-trap exposed wires and dogdy pipes as much as they are for being tapped up by bored housewives when they’re on the job? Presume something similar holds for most trades in this respect; maybe bakers make crap bread at home, or just buy it from the supermarket. Bus drivers drive badly in their own cars. My dad took years to get a fence put around the back garden, whilst my mum always you to be far more slapdash when doing my hair than her customers. She also used to give me a clip round the ear if I didn’t keep my head still which was simply because she could, whereas the little darlings in her shop got a sweet smile for annoying behaviour.

I’ve just finished The Athenian Murders

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 713 views

I’ve just finished The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza. I’d read a review in The Guardian which compared it to The Name of the Rose which is my favourite novel (currently read it 9 times) so I went out and bought it straight away. It was difficult to get into to begin with, so it remained on my bedside for a year before I bit the bullet and took it with me on a mini break to Dorset.

The story is interesting enough, but the really noodle-baking aspect is the dual story being told by the translator in the story who is working on an original Greek text and who produces the English text we read above. In English, I suspect that it has a greater effect, since the book was originally written in Spanish, so we’re reading a translation of a book which is about a translator and a text. As a result, it took me a few pages to work out that the translator referred to is a character, not a note from the actual translator of the English version.

As the story progresses, the translator’s notes become more involved leading to a novel way of reading; the flow of the Greek translation is broken by reading the notes. In some chapters, I read the footnote immediately; in others, I read the translation then went back and read the notes. It didn’t feel gimmicky though and led to an enthralling read, which it goes without saying I couldn’t put down*. There were plenty of gasps of surprise, and it’s a very good whodunnit too, not to mention whydunnit and whatthefucksgoingonandwhatsactuallybeenduninthefirstplace. Recommended.

* – Admittedly, Dorset seems a good place to get lost in a book, since rival distractions on Portland were few and far between.

evazev (5:37:19 pm): haha there is a new detective series

Do You SeePost a comment • 613 views

evazev (5:37:19 pm): haha there is a new detective series starting tonight called “rosemary and thyme”
evazev (5:39:04 pm): “horticulturalist rosemary boxer and cheated wife laura thyme investigate when [boilerplate plot ensues]”
s*cette66 (5:39:14 pm): ?????!!
evazev (5:39:19 pm): i shall certainly watch that!!
evazev (5:39:40 pm): worst series title ever?
s*cette66 (5:39:58 pm): when do bobby parsley and sage mcdonald show up?
evazev (5:40:29 pm): the bbc shd do a spoiler series
evazev (5:41:32 pm): “former aromatherapist jessica liver and cripped high-wire-artist onions beauregard…”
s*cette66 (5:43:00 pm): haha
s*cette66 (5:44:47 pm): ” recovering alcoholic cop billy ‘piss’ pyztcywizc and ace reporter tammy vinegar…”
evazev (5:41:32 pm): this is a goldmine

(mark s was in conservation with tokyo rosemary)

(A better sense of the inside of West’s head

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 420 views

(A better sense of the inside of West’s head could be gleaned from the photographs of the interior of 25 Cromwell Street, published in the Guardian colour supplement with an extract from Burn’s book, back when it was just coming out in 1998. As a professional builder, decorator and electrician, West was apparently in demand: but – to judge by these picture – the work he did on his own home, left for so long to his own designs, was a nightmare of unfinished, bodged bleakness. A choke of anti-sensual nothing, incapable of settling or reflecting, for fear of what might gaze back.)

There was a two-part doc on Channel 5

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 519 views

There was a two-part doc on Channel 5 which made a claim about them I didn’t remember, so I picked up Gordon Burn’s Happy Like Murderers: the True Story of Fred and Rosemary West again. I quite quickly remembered why I disliked it so much the first time: Burn borrows the device Emlyn Williams used so effectively in his 1967 Moors Murderers book Beyond Belief, and re-uses it, badly. Williams’s book is a collage of fact, guesswork, the cliched speech of the locality (working-class Manchester, 40s-60s) and snatches from pop songs; Burn’s book, three times as long, is the same. Williams has an exceptional ear, for how a shared phrase can speak utterly differently in different mouths: Burn turns the whole region (rural working-class Gloucester and environs, 40s-90s) into a featureless mulch. Williams gives a sense of a community, lively as well as limited, and what the killers – self-declared hipsters – shared with it and did to it. You slog through Burn’s overlong, disastrously organised book feeling that the author can’t and won’t distinguish between the Wests and the entire West Country all round them: that he’s indicting everyone equally, the time, the place, the police, the poor, caravans, immigrants, fashion, pornography, mankind. One reason for the difference may be this: Brady was a voracious reader, and therefore never so distant – in one sense – from any writer imagining his inner life; West was functionally illiterate (he could write, but only barely, and didn’t read). Which may make West far more alien to the book-proud than any of his crimes. Another reason may just be that Burn isn’t that good.