Finally got around to reading A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle. Bought it in hardback when it first came out, couldn't get into it, and it's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. When I looked up the amazon URL, they helpfully told me I bought it on 11 October 1999, so it's been hanging around since the last millennium.
It's the first volume in a proposed trilogy about a man representing the age (a la Midnight's Children or Moorcock's Colonel Pyat) called Henry Smart, who in this volume grows up in the slums of Dublin, then gets involved in the Irish independence movement of the early Twentieth century.
Found it a bit more interesting this time, but still not superb. It has a view good touches like the sharp dialogue and some Dickensian descriptions of the Dublin slums. I think I found the larger-than-life main character to be in a bit of an awkward zone, too exaggerated to be quite believable, but not quite exaggerated enough to be interesting. The book might also work better if you're Irish or American and more inclined to a sentimental view of Irish Republicans: they spent too much time trying to blow up towns I live in for me to be suitably shocked when they turn out to be not entirely nice.
Overall, I wasn't that keen on this one, but I might look out for the second volume that's set in Jazz-age America which might be more interesting to me. This book did get great reviews at the time so might appeal to others more.
What I'm Reading 2
Tabloid Girl is a memoir by Sharon Marshall about her years as tabloid showbiz reporter.
Quite a good depiction of tabloid journalistic life, full of anecdotes and handy tips on how to get stories. Useful tips include: faking pregnancy so you can pretend to need the toilet or a sit-down, giving bouquets of flowers so the interviewee needs to talk to you, conspicuously switching off the tape recorder when leaving for the bathroom while another one runs in your handbag so you can see if they say "do you think she knows about...?".
Also has a Bridget Jones style chick-lit series of complaints about being single, which she blames on the pressures of the job.
Marshall doesn't seem particularly reflective about tabloid ethics. While there's a chapter at the end about her regrets at unethical things, during her career herself she seems to have been caught up in the newsroom ethos and not to have thought about it too much. I suspect most of her peers have similar attitudes.
As you'd expect it's punchily written and very easy to read. Fairly interesting as an insiders account of tabloid life, but not essential reading as it's a small picture which is fairly familiar from other sources.
What I'm Watching
Saw The Commitments on DVD, about a covers soul band being set up in Dublin. Haven't seen it since it came out in the early nineties. It seems to have stood up to time pretty well, apart from the haircuts which stand up appallingly.
Girl B struggled with the accents: was surprised since she coped fine with the Scottish accents in a play we saw. She reckoned Scottish was more like German though
Saw the RSC production of "The Tempest" at the Camden Roundhouse. Not quite in the round, was more of a horseshoe setup around a central stage, with a perspex box sometimes representing a cave, sometimes a ship.
Very good production on the whole as you'd expect from the RSC. Great performances and verse-speaking from all the cast. Actually managed to make the appearances of the gods as Prospero's show quite spectacular with costumes, trapezes and singing.
Prospero was depicted as a bit less impressive than in some productions, a small man in a tattered suit rather than a magnificent magician.
Good production, well worth seeing.
Hopefully picking up the keys to the new bungalow on Tuesday. Was supposed to be Sunday but they delayed it. I've allowed another few weeks in the old place, will be moving stuff across gradually as we need to buy furniture and there will be no phone or internet for a couple of weeks. Be good to be properly moved in, the commute is taking up a lot of my time at the moment.
Bought a titanium ring (they're not expensive) in what I thought was my size for a candidate wedding ring. It feels a bit tight though so I might get another one. On the other hand, apparently people generally feel their rings are too tight at first and want them tightened when they get used to them, so maybe this one is the right size after all. It doesn't leave a mark after I have it on a couple of hours, or cut off the circulation, but it does feel a bit too tight.
I didn't realise, but also hands can swell when you lie down or when its hot. Sometimes the ring goes on and off easily, but sometimes it's a struggle to get it over the knuckle. This ring stuff is a lot more complicated than I thought,
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