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By TheophileEscargot (Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 08:20:43 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Me, Spain (all tags)
Reading: "The Book of Dave", "The Zombie Survival Guide". Watching. Spain: dates booked! Web.

What I'm Reading
Finished The Book of Dave by Will Self. Novel partly set in a post-apocalyptic future Hampstead where society is structured around a religion created by messily-divorced black cab driver Dave Rudman. Two future plotlines are alternated with incidents in Dave's life.

The future characters talk mostly in the demotic language Mokni, heavily seasoned with taxi metaphors. The sun is the foglamp, the night sky the dashboard, adult women pass through the three stages of life: opare, mummy and boiler. Life is structured around the Changeover when children pass from the custody of dad to mummy.

It's a nice concept that works well at first. Gets a bit tiresome after a while though. I think Will Self may be better at short stories than novels: the plot here is lethargic and doesn't really go anywhere, and the satire doesn't really benefit from length and repetition.

The life story of Dave is actually more interesting than the future plot: Dave stays just on the right side of stereotype and his disintegration is pretty poignant.

The prose is impressively clever, in a beat-you-over-the-head-with-its-cleverness kind of way.

Overall, flawed but interesting.

Review, review, review, review, review, extract.

Also in the flawed but interesting camp was the Beowulf movie. The flaws have been well addressed by now: the bizarre hide-the-sausage naked fight scene in particular. It's not a movie to see if you have a low silliness threshold.

Was impressed by a few things though. It did manage to break some of the usually ironclad Hollywood formulas; little details that are normally almost impossible to get past they system. For instance, normally they try to compress the timeframe into the shortest possible time: it was good that they skipped a couple of decades into the future to include the final confrontation with the dragon.

Also they managed to make Beowulf a more flawed character than a normal hero: boastful, careless with his thanes' lives, adulterous. Even if the producers accept that, normally the stars veto it.

Don't really want to go into the animation debate again, except to say that this is an action movie, and animation is already the norm for the action scenes in action movies. Is anyone really saying "Hey, I find Die Hard 4.0 and The Bourne Ultimatum so much more authentic in the way the action scenes are strung together with celluloid footage of people talking"?

Overall, pretty entertaining. I saw the 35mm, but go for the 3D IMAX if you can.

Aside: found this metachat discussion quite annoying. Gosh, that Beowulf character in the poem is far too violent and sexist for someone as sensitive as me...

What I'm Reading 2
Gradually got through The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Book to dip into rather than read cover to cover. Moderately amusing, Thought it worked best as a spoof of survival guides. Manages the portentous tone very well, with the familiar grim self-satisfaction at the dismal fate awaiting the unprepared.

Next destination in the Very Slow Art Tour of Europe is Spain. Doing a similar thing as Italy last year. Flying out to Madrid on 12th December, then overland to Barcelona, flying from there to my parents on the 20th.

Got plenty of your advice last time. Any more tips on what to see, where to stay? Haven't booked the train yet.

Economics. The resource curse in practice.

The medicalization of shyness.

Backtracks. Fall in heart attacks after Scottish smoking ban never happened. AIDS infected estimates down from 40m to 33m. China's economy 40% smaller than estimated.

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Self by herbert (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:50:46 AM EST
Seems a bit variable.  Have you read Great Apes?  I liked that a lot.

I haven't by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:59:14 AM EST
I'llt look out for it...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Zombie Guide. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 10:43:22 AM EST
Strangely, the Zombie Guide features in Brooks's World War Z, despite the fact that the ZSG is a complete gag and WWZ is fairly humorless about the premise.

book of dave is a by dmg (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 04:31:50 PM EST
Fantasic read.

You need to read great apes, "my idea of fun", cock and bull etc.

also you need to read Amis at the same time. the inrformaition, time, yellow dog etc.

Self + Amis = teh modern literary genious.

Darts Keith...
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

I thought Yellow Dog was terrible by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #6 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 02:19:02 AM EST
But generally I really like Amis, Money and the Information are great.

Great Apes is Self's best novel, but I prefer the short stories.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Barcelona by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 12:48:14 AM EST
Must sees if you've never been before:
Sagrada Familia
Park Guell

Fly between Madrid and Barcelona by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 07:41:36 AM EST

Life is too short and you'll save money. And Barajas airport in Madrid is an architectural marvel.

Since Spanish are not anal about security you don't need to be that early in the airport (I would say 1.5 hour before departure time is enough) which can be reached easily and cheaply by taxi (I think there is underground in both airports, but taxis are so relatively cheap that I haven't tried it).

You can do your ecological bit by when the Spanish government have sorted the AVE (fast train, just a couple of weeks ago a metro platform in Barcelona collapsed due to poor workmanship in AVE related works close by) between both towns and fixed their infuriating website.

Last time I checked it was far too expensive and the trip took far too long (tonight I am in a pessimistic mood though, so if you have booked train tickets, you will be fine. Really ...)

Yeah by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Nov 24, 2007 at 02:39:43 AM EST
Trains aren't great in Spain if you're used to French or German speed. All the mediterranean countries seem a bit lackadaisical when it comes to rail.

The great advantage trains have over flying though is the lack of changes. I would usually rather read for another few hours, and end up in the middle of town, than go through the whole logistical assembly line of an airport.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

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