City of Bohane by Kevin Barry. Like "Chez Max" and "Salvage", this is another SF-ish book, set in a broken-down future, by a mainstream author in mainstream packaging.
This one is set in a thoroughly-envisaged City of Bohane, a tough city in a future Ireland. The plot is about a conflict between gangs.
Beautifully written, with larger than life characters. Well worth a read.
What I'm Reading 2
Seek My Face by John Updike has an interesting format. The book is set over one day, without any chapter or section breaks, describing a biographical interview between an elderly artist and a young art journalist, combining the artists words and vivid memories
I liked this one a lot, found it very compelling and was reluctant to put it down. It has all of Updike's characteristic brilliance at getting into people's heads and lives, but having both characters female makes it a bit of a change from most of his books.
Early on our attention is drawn to a still life painting seen by the artist as a child, who even then is aware of how difficult it is to paint the realistic textures. The book seems to be a similar exercise to a classical still life, it's a big technical challenge to do all the textures on such a small scale without a big dramatic subject.
The characters are heavily based on real artists, mostly in the abstract impressionist movement, and it nods to real events. The artist Hope Chafetz is based on Lee Krasner, who was married to Jackson Pollock who becomes Zack McCoy here. However, they're not always literal: Hope's second husband Guy Holloway is a composite of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, while the real Lee Krasner never remarried. This seems to have annoyed some of the reviewers, who seem to feel characters should either be thinly-veiled real people or entirely fictional.
I thought this was a great book, well worth reading, and up to the standards of Updike's best.
What I'm Watching
Moneyball (DVD) is a decent movie, based on a true-ish story, of a baseball manager and an economist using statistical analysis to hire undervalued players for their low-budget team. Found it quite interesting though I'm not a sports fan and definitely not a baseball fan, might be much more enjoyable to those who are more into it.
What I'm Watching 2
Saw Ralph Fiennes recent version of Coriolanus that got a lot of attention lately. Very modernized version with lots of assault rifles and gun battles. Great central performance from Fiennes as the arrogant tragic hero Coriolanus. Gerard Butler is his antagonist Aufidius, who glowers a lot, though Shakespeare didn't actually write much of a part for that character.
I liked some touches a lot, like having the messengers be TV newsreaders (Jon Snow is one!) which highlights their importance, I think it's hard for modern viewers to feel the importance of such minor characters. Not quite sure if having elements of modern democracy works so well, someone like Coriolanus couldn't really function in a democracy with his open disdain for the people.
Vanessa Redgrave gives a great performance as Coriolanus' mother Volumnia, one of Shakespeare's best female parts.
Overall, a great version of the play, well worth seeing.
Started the new job. Still settling into it, it's a big change from the last one. Not doing any private surfing/tweeting/blogging from work so far, they're a pretty focused bunch by comparison.
Commute's a bit of a nightmare at the moment, since I was spoilt by being able to walk to work, an hour and a half on two trains feels like it doesn't leave me with much free time. Commute should be easier once we're moved into the new place in Twickenham, though that will bring its own problems as I'm used to having everything exactly the way I want it in my own flat.
Girl B has her wedding ring now, I still haven't bought mine. Apparently they're more comfortable if they're curved not flat on the inside, but also more expensive as it takes more gold to make the curvy bit. Tempted to go back to titanium and avoid the cost issue. Seems a bit daft to spend so much money on a metal like gold, a metal so weak and heavy they don't even make planes out of it.
Socioeconomics. Why devaluation is not a viable option for Greece. The real bailout. The Rocky Balboa recovery? Quantifying bank subsidies. Christianity growing in UK. China bubble. French Presidential portraits.
Sci/Tech. Beware stimulus effects in psychology.
Random. Richard Feynmann, Natalie Portman and Bryan May are the only three people to have Erdos-Sabbath-Bacon numbers. You're not ready for a baby, via. Male witches unevenly distributed across history. Lionel Shriver thinks British cyclists are competitive (via wiredog).
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