The Readlist: September 2016

Buried For Pleasure by Edmund Crispin

Another Gervase Fen book for me this month. They’re so easy to pick up, get sucked into and are utterly joyous to read as I’ve explained in previous posts. This one revolves around Fen standing for Parliament in a seat that comprises of a sleepy and picturesque market town and its not so sleepy or picturesque cousins close by. And  – would you believe it – there’s a murder!

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

I originally started this book when I was riding the crest of the eReader phenonmenom in the early part of the decade when it seemed like physical book store’s days were numbered. I didn’t actually purchase an eReader though, I used my flash new Android tablet instead and TSB had recently been released on the Google Play store (or Android store as it was back then). Alas, eReaders didn’t hook me in and even buying a Nook eighteen months later didn’t sway me any further and The Sisters Brothers continued as one of those books I’d read the first quarter of but never finished.

Then, when bobbing around Sainsbury’s, I saw the paperback for £1.99 and took the punt on it again and it became my holiday read for my mini-break to Prague. All was going well – I read it from the beginning again, I was enjoying it and then… I left the paperback on the plane! Disaster! Even more annoyingly I didn’t actually realise this until two days later. But, here’s where my younger self came to the rescue, I was able to finish the book using the digital copy which was still linked to my Google account.

This book has a great prose style. It’s presented as a first person narrative, from the mind of one of the Sisters brothers who feels a little inadequate compared to his sibling. He’s a plain thinker, and everything is no-nonsense. It might take you a while to get used to the flow of the book as a result but it’s a real unusual pleasure to read. The story sees the brothers sent on an assassination job during the gold-rush era in Western USA. Obviously, as you’re following smash-and-grab assassins, there’s the whole anti-hero vibe going on here but it’s clear that the narrative stems from someone who no longer wants to be in the ‘business’. He’s also more kind hearted than his brother and this is seen through the bits and pieces involving horses. A film’s been in the works for a while and should be in cinemas next year.

Interestingly, the plane I caught back to the UK was the exact same one I had taken to get to Prague… and I was seated in the *same row* as the one I had been in when I left Blighty, and thus the same one I left my book behind in. Alas, the book had disappeared but imagine the bizarre sense of hope I got staring out of the terminal windows when I saw the plane appear!

Articles & Long Reads

The Only Plane In The Sky This article was widely shared in the days immediately following the 9/11 anniversary. It’s an oral history, an article transcript, of those surrounding the President on that fateful day back in 2001 and the decisions that were made. The startlingly thing is, as we now live in an age of wi-fi on planes, how little they actually knew when they were aboard Air Force One.

Trapped With 9/11 there are so many individual stories from one event, so many perspectives you can view it from. From people pretending to have been there and to have survived the atrocity to the story of the Marriott hotel next to the towers… I had a sudden all encompassing thought during the anniversary. What about the elevators? Two massive skyscrapers must have had hundreds of people in elevators (North more than South though, for obvious reasons) at the time the planes crashed. What happened to them? Did any escape? Or were they just trapped, completely unaware of events unfolding around them? This article goes some way to answering this.

In store grooves Do you ever find yourself bopping along to some tunes in the aisles? Most shops just have a playlist sent to them but others have to connect to a stream over the speakers. ASDA FM live (the most heard radio station in the UK – more than Radio 2!), The Co-operative Radio, Daily Mail News Shop Radio (no idea if that one’s still going), GAME Store Live to name but a few in the UK. This looks at the biggest in Australia. In reality, I’d say instore radio often have a better music mix than most radio stations on the dial and I’ve always found Morrisons’ mix of Britpop and 00s second singles to be very enjoyable. Interestingly, Chris Moyles career started off as a disc jockey for the Topman in store radio in London, which was literally a booth in the middle of the shop. I imagine these days they’re proper DJ decks rather than a ‘studio’.

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