Archives for posts with tag: Books

Pink Steam, 2015– Pink Steam, 2015 –

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So, it’s been a while…just so you know, the author has not (just) been sitting around on his generously proportioned (but perfectly formed) posterior. He’s also found time to work with other people (the fruits of the first project will be posted on Tuesday) on art works, exhibition criticism and computer programming. He’s even read a few books: Parkett #86 (2009) by various (technically a magazine, but, you know, a thick one), Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story Of Frank Zappa (2009) by Neil Slaven, The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula Le Guin, Sculpture Today (2007) by Judith Collins, Anselm Kiefer (2013) by Matthew Biro and Akademie X: Lessons in Art + Life (2015) by various artists. Most exciting are the last two – nice to discover that a lot of the author’s assumptions about Kiefer’s motivations were incorrect – and that there is even more depth of feeling and poetry packed onto those canvases and constructions. Akademie X is what it says – an art school in book form – 36 artists and writers talk about creativity, their own practices and suggesting reading lists. The artist Carol Bove appears in both this book and Parkett – I was previously unfamiliar with her work – she’s incisive and brilliant – and I strongly urge you to check out her work.

Next on the pile is Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson, which looks fascinating for all lovers of metropolitan areas. You can check out his blog here.

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This post is named after a song by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. It appears on Safe As Milk (1967).  You can listen to Electricity here. And because I love it so, you can listen to I’m Glad from the same album here.

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Ashley Lily Scarlett and I have a collaborative blog together. It’s a conversation in pictures and it’s called Between Scarlett and Guest. Check it out!

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Full Moon, 2013

This was taken on the Beckenham Road, Clock House, UK.

Full Moon  is a coffee table book (and exhibition catalogue), by Michael Light,  Andrew Chaikin and NASA. It was published in 1999 by Jonathan Cape/ Hayward Gallery. The exhibition was also called Full Moon.

The book is a photographic journey to the moon and back, drawn from NASA’s 32,000 pictures from the Apollo missions.

Here’s what it says on the dust jacket: “For the first time NASA has allowed 900 of the ‘master’ negatives and transparencies to be taken offsite for electronic scanning so as to produce the sharpest images of space that we have ever seen. From this selection of ‘master’ photographs Michael Light has distilled a single composite journey beginning with the launch, followed by a walk in space, an orbit of the Moon, a lunar landing and exploration and a return to Earth with an orbit and splash-down…These photographs reveal not only the hardware of lunar exploration in exquisite detail but also the profound aesthetics of space in what could be described as the ultimate landscape photography.”

And here’s the first paragraph:

They had done dangerous things before. Some had flown in combat. Others had landed a jet fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the night in the open ocean. Almost all had pushed an unproven supersonic aircraft to the edge of its capabilities. And some, the veterans, had even ridden a rocket into space before. So it was not a completely novel sensation that greeted the three astronauts on launch morning, as they donned their space suits, left the crew quarters, and climbed into the transfer van for the ride to the pad.

It’s a beautiful book.

Michael Light has very generously put a number of the images online here.

In our house, this book can be found: sitting room, right-hand bookshelves, sixth shelf down.


If you’re interested in what’s happening in space exploration now, I strongly urge you to visit Alex Autin’s blog, …things I LOVE!

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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our latest collaboration can be found one post back.

Ghostwritten (I), 2013

Ghostwritten (II), 2013

Ghostwritten (III), 2013

The first shot was taken near Museum Street, the second off Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the third on Great Queen Street, London, UK.

Ghostwritten  is a novel by David Mitchell. It was published in 1999.

It was David Mitchell’s first published book, and was critically acclaimed. He’s since achieved greater commercial and critical success with Number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), which were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Here’s what Lawrence Norfolk says on the back cover: “The Sarin nerve-gas attack in the Tokyo subway leads to a love-affair between two semi-Japanese juvenile jazz-buffs, thence to a tea-shack in revolutionary China. From there we are whisked into a rogue soul’s spiritual progress through Mongolia. Art fraud and gangsterism in St. Petersburg follow, then philandering, gambling and bad indie rock in London…At various points Ghostwritten could be called a post-Cold War thriller, a love story (or several), a cult expose, a radio-show transcript, an island romance, a compendium of creation-myths, and – unsurprisingly – a ghost story.”

And here’s the first paragraph:

Who was blowing on the nape of my neck?

To be honest, I read this when it came out and I can’t remember it that well. Whenever I’ve considered reading it again, I get this feeling that I’m not going to enjoy it, because my overall impression the first time was that this was a writer showing off. He’s extremely adept at writing from different points of view (see above), but my memory (failing so don’t trust it) is of a book that was not much more than the sum of its parts. I’m sure someone will put me right.

In our house, this book can be found: study, left-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our last collaboration can be found a few posts back.

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If you like good prose, I thoroughly recommend you catch up with the following blogs: Frivolous Monsters (hilarious), People Places and Bling! (all round brilliant), and Unbound Boxes Limping Gods (a fantastic narrative, beautifully illustrated).

Zazie in the Metro, 2013

This was taken last Friday on Platform 3 of Charing Cross station, London, UK (so, not the Metro and almost definitely not someone called Zazie).

Zazie in the Metro  is a novel by Raymond Queneau. It was published in 1959. The edition on our shelves was published in 2000 and was translated into English by Barbara Wright.

The book was Raymond Queneau’s first commercial success (a fact which bothered him somewhat because he considered the book lightweight), and was written in colloquial French. Queneau was a poet, novelist and co-founder of the literary/ mathematical group, Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Oulipo)*.

Here’s what it says on the back cover: “Impish, foul-mouthed Zazie arrives in Paris from the country to stay with her female-impersonator Uncle Gabriel. All she really wants to do is ride the metro, but finding it shut because of a strike, Zazie looks for other means of amusement and is soon caught up in a comic adventure that becomes wilder and more manic by the minute.”

And here’s the first paragraph:

Howcanaystinksotho, wondered Gabriel, exasperated. Ts incredible, they never clean themselves. It says in the paper that not eleven percent of the flats in Paris have bathrooms, doesn’t surprise me, but you can wash without. They can’t make much of an effort, all this lot around me. On the other hand, it’s not as if they’ve been specially hand-picked form the dosses of Paris. Zno reason. They’re only here by accident. You really can’t assume that people who meet people at the Gare d’Austerlitz smell worse than people who meet people at the Gare de Lyon. No really, zno reason. All the same, what a smell.

Frankly, it’s hilarious and I vigorously recommend you read it.

In 1960, Louis Malle adapted the book for cinema. It has also been staged as a play and been published as a comic book.

In our house, this book can be found: sitting room, right-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

* Georges Perec, who I wrote a bit about here was also a member.

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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our latest collaboration can be found one post back.

Lights Out For The Territory, 2013

Lights Out For The Territory, 2013

This was taken on a train bound for Charing Cross, London, UK.

Lights Out For The Territory  is a volume of essays by Iain Sinclair, with illustrations by Marc Atkins. It was published in 1997.

The book is structured around 9 walks through London and was published at a time when psychogeography was a new buzz-word.  On his travels he discovers a maze of symbols, ancient and modern and pieces together a coherent, occultist new version of the capital.

Here’s what it says on the back cover: “Iain Sinclair walks the streets of London compulsively, and reads the hidden language of the city like no other writer… [the book] walks the reader into a deranged remapping of London, and Sinclair’s strange connections between places and people take on an integrity of their own. London is scoured in acid humour.”

And here’s the first paragraph:

The notion was to cut a crude V into the sprawl of the city, to vandalise dormant energies by an act of ambulant signmaking. To walk out from Hackney to Greenwich Hill, and back along the river Lea to Chingford Mount, recording and retrieving the messages on walls, lampposts, door jambs: the spites and spasms of an increasingly deranged populace…

Steady on!

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, right-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our latest collaboration can be found on Richard’s blog.

First Frost, 2013

This was taken in Beckenham, UK.

First Frost  is a short story anthology, edited by Charlotte Cole. It was published in 1998.

Contributors include: Charlotte Cole, Angela Carter, Helen Dunmore, Carol Shields, Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith and A.L. Kennedy. A pretty stellar line-up. It’s at this point that I have to admit to not reading it yet, although I’m a big fan of all the above-mentioned writers. Nikki says it’s great, so it’s gone on my list for this year.

Here’s what it says on the back cover: “Friendships growing in long winter evenings, moments of love in a snow-encrusted landscape, the heart-soaring freedom of a clear cold sky…First Frost is an irresistible and evocative collection of stories by some of the best contemporary women writers – a breathtaking winter read.”

And here’s the first paragraph of Helen Dunmore’s Girls on Ice:

Ulli has studied the brackish waters of the Baltic in high-school science. She remember field trips when she had to sample and test sea water before reading up on experiments which reported the leaching of DDT from the shores of our great neighbour into the tissues of the Baltic herring. Our great neighbour. That was what they called the Soviet Union then. Ironic, derisive. That was the way to survive. There are no national borders as far as pollution is concerned, their teacher had emphasised. They should arm themselves with information. It was their future.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

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Thanks to the usual suspects (John, Deanne and Terry) for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our next collaboration will be posted on Richard’s blog on Sunday.

In Search of Space, 2012

So, my final post of 2012, and another idea suggested by Deanne. I’ve attempted a round-up of all the books featured in TFIPM in the last year (in reverse order of appearance). Before we get to the round-up, I’d like to say thank you to Stephen D. for lunch yesterday (fab!), and to everyone who has visited, liked, commented or contacted the blog in the last year – I really appreciate it.

Stephen D, 2012

I posted an awards page ( a couple of days ago. Lazy I know, but I haven’t got the time or energy to email everyone to tell them they’ve been nominated, so please check it out. And I started a new blog here: TFIPM Remix if you want to see a lot of the street portraits in one place.

A big thank you to John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans, and to J.E. Lattimer (Arcane Arrangements , Mysteries of the Wasteland, and Fictional Machines ) for a fantastic collaboration on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

And lastly but not leastly to Richard from CK Ponderings for being a brilliant, inspiring collaborator for the last six months (and a bit), and an all-round cool guy – it was great to finally meet him in November.

Right onwards…Taxi!

Taxi!, 2012

Recommendations 2012

From the bookshelves:

Hotel World (2001) by Ali Smith

Triangle Square Circle (1995) by William Wegman

House of Suns (2008) by Alasdair Reynolds

Re-Make/ Re-model (2007) by Michael Bracewell

Riddley Walker (1980) by Russell Hoban

Empty Space (2012) by M John Harrison

20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth (2008) by Xiaolu Guo

The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps (2001) by Michel Faber

The Entropy Tango (1981) by Michael Moorcock

England’s Dreaming (1991) by Jon Savage

The Lowlife (1963) by Alexander Baron

Sombrero Fallout (1976) by Richard Brautigan

Stone Junction (1990) by Jim Dodge

Travel Arrangements (2001) by M John Harrison

Kleinzeit (1974) by Russell Hoban

Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) by Georges Perec

A Brief History of Time (1988) by Stephen Hawking

Exit Music (2007) by Ian Rankin

Ask The Dust (1939) by John Fante

The Dancers At The End of Time (1981) by Michael Moorcock

Under The Clock (2005) by Tony Harrison

Utopia Parkway (1997) by Deborah Solomon

The Frequency of Souls (1996) by Mary Kay Zuravleff

The Light of Day (2003) by Graham Swift

The Happy Owls (1963) by Celestino Piatti

The Accidental (2005) by Ali Smith

Fowler’s End (1957) by Gerald Kersh

Five Miles From Outer Hope (2000) by Nicola Barker

Pale Fire (1962) by Vladimir Nabakov

Walking on Glass (1985) by Iain Banks

From The History of Abstract Painting Week:

History of Abstract Painting (1989) by Jean-Luc Daval

From Science Fiction Fortnight:

The Cornelius Quartet (Comprising The Final Programme (1969), A Cure For Cancer (1971), The English Assassin (1972) and The Condition of Muzak (1977) by Michael Moorcock

The Ash Circus (a short story) (1969) by M John Harrison

Millenium People (2003) by J G Ballard

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K Le Guin

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell

Signal To Noise (a short story) (2006) by Alasdair Reynolds

Perdido Street Station (2000) by China Meiville

The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester

Breakfast In The Ruins (1972) by Michael Moorcock

Swarm (a short story) (1982) by Bruce Sterling

In The Country of Last Things (1987) by Paul Auster

Crash (1973) by J G Ballard

King of the City (2000) by Michael Moorcock

I, Robot (1957) by Isaac Asimov

Blood Music (1983) by Greg Bear

Under The Skin (2000) by Michel Faber

Light (2002) by M John Harrison

The Illustrated Man (1951) by Ray Bradbury

The War of the Worlds (1898) by H G Wells

The City and the Stars (1956) by Arthur C Clarke

Slaughterhouse 5 (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut

The Stainless Steel Rat (1961) by Harry Harrison

Concrete Island (1974) by J G Ballard

Hotel World (I), 2012

Hotel World (II), 2012

Hotel World (III), 2012

These shots were taken on Kingsway, London, UK.

Hotel World  is a novel by Ali Smith. It was published in 2001.

Not that long ago, I started reading Hotel World but got waylaid and didn’t go back to it. That was a mistake that will soon be corrected.

Here’s what it says on the back of the book: “Five people: four are living, three are strangers, two are sisters, one is dead. Hotel World takes us through a night in the life of five people’s very different worlds. It’s luxurious for some, but a long drop for others. Cash or credit? Ali Smith’s innovative and extraordinary new novel checks us in to the smooth, plush world of the Global. But is it really the kind of place you want to spend the rest of your life in?…Forget about room service. This is a life-affirming book about death, a death-affirming book about life.”

Here’s the first paragraph and a bit:


h0000000 what a fall what a soar what a plummet what a dash into dark into light what a plunge what a glide thud crash what a drop what a rush what a swoop what a fright what a mad hushed skirl what a smash mush mash-up broke and gashed what a heart in my mouth what an end.

What a life.

What a time.

What I felt. Then. Gone.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, fourth shelf down.

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RIP Huw Lloyd Langton

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

Triangle, 2012

Square, 2012

Circle, 2012

These shots were taken in on the outskirts of the City of London, UK.

Triangle, Square, Circle  is a picture book by William Wegman. It was published in 1995.

The book comprises fourteen board pages with a photograph on each. It stars Fay Ray and her family of Weimaraners (who Wegman uses a lot in his work – the first dog was called Man Ray). The pages alternate: each verso page features a portrait of one of the dogs shot against a black background with a shaped toy building block balanced on its head; on each recto page, a more playful interpretation of the shape (triangle features a dog adrift in a yacht with its sail up, semi-circle a semi-circular tent, its window crowded with dogs).

Well, it’s a fun book, and the photographs are classic Wegmans, so if you like what he does, you’ll like this. I don’t know whether I like it or not, which is probably a good sign.

Here’s the first paragraph:


In our house, this book can be found: sitting room, left-hand bookshelves, third shelf down.

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator.

House of Suns (I), 2012

House of Suns  is a novel by Alasdair Reynolds. It was published in 2008. Broadly speaking it’s a space opera, but… as with all his books it avoids the flat prose and clumsily drawn female characters traditionally associated with the genre. It also goes some way to conveying a yearning sense of wonder at the vast, black, inkiness of space and the planets that hang about in it.

It’s not my favourite Reynolds book, but it is a gripping, fun read. If you’re interested in a modern take on space opera, I’d recommend you start with Revelation Space (2000). If you like that, you’ll get round to House of Suns in the end.

Anyway, this is from the dust-jacket: “Six million years ago, at the dawn of the human starfaring era, Aigail Gentian split herself into a thousand clones and launched them into the galaxy, to gather more memories and wisdom than one single human being could ever accumulate in a universe bound by Einstein’s laws. Periodically the shatterlings of Gentian Line meet for a grand bacchanalian reunion, where, over the course of a thousand heady nights, they exchange memories.

Two wayward shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, are about to be decades late for Gentian Line’s thirty-second reunion. Even worse, they have fallen in love…”

And here’s the first paragraph and a bit:

I was born in a house with a million rooms, built on a small, airless world on the edge of an empire of light and commerce that the adults called the Golden Hour, for a reason I did not yet grasp.

I was a girl then, a single individual called Abigail Gentian.

During the thirty years of my childhood, I only saw a fraction of the vast, rambling, ever-changing mansion.

In our house, this book can be found: dining room, left-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

House of Suns (II), 2012

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Thank as always,  John and Deanne and Terry for title shenanigans and Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. Our sixteenth is over at Richard’s blog – check it out!