This book is amazing. I had read a couple of Kate Atkinson’s books before I got round to this one. Several chapters into it I became bogged down with so many characters and backstory that I couldn’t keep track of things. I put it aside and read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.
Because I like Atkinson’s writing, and because she won the Whitbread Prize (now Costa Prize) for the book in 1996, I was sure the problem was mine rather than the book’s. I took it with me last weekend and sat in the sun on south bank of Loch Tay and read it from front to back. How did you do it, Kate? I couldn’t put it down. It is the most complicated and challenging novel I have ever read and I loved it.
I have bought a satnav. I have avoided the things for years, relying on my faultless map reading skills and equally faultless memory (joke). When driving from A to Z I have always been fairly good at getting from A to W. It’s the W to Z bit that usually zaps me. You know what I mean, the road maps and signs get you most of the way and then let you down because your map scale is wrong or the traffic too heavy to keep stopping to check your directions. After reading a lot of reviews I bought a TomTom XL (it was cheaper last week!).
On Friday I drove north into the Highlands and used the satnav for the first time. Because I thought I knew the way I took a turning I shouldn’t have taken. The satnav stopped speaking to me and I thought it was sulking. I expected a message telling me I had gone the wrong way, but instead I got further instructions – it had accepted what I had done and had recalculated a new route, brilliant! Some satnavs that can’t do that. There are others that tell you that you have gone wrong. What’s the point of that?
My daughter in law had to drive into Glasgow recently so she borrowed her friend’s satnav. As you may know, as is the case with phones and ringtones, you can download different satnav voices. Her friend had downloaded an Irish voice. Despite satnav guidance, D-in-L went horribly wrong and found herself facing a brick wall in a dead-end street. The very Irish satnav seemed just as perplexed as she was and asked her ‘Where the f**k are you going?‘
When I saw this cover in WHSmith the other day I had a barely controllable urge to buy a black marker pen. I didn’t of course. I shan’t be buying it or reading it. I have already read ‘The Prince’.
togoI have just read John Grisham’s ‘Theodore Boone’. I’m not sure I have ever read a Grisham book before, though I have heard many of them on audio CDs. I tend to buy CD sets on the motorway when I drive south on the M74 and M6. If you have experienced the M6 between Preston and Birmingham, then you will know that it is probably the worst road in the world (and I have driven the road between Lome and Kara in Togo. Believe me, that is another story. You drive around bodies of dead men… and they are still there when you drive back a week later. So perhaps the M6 isn’t that bad after all).
I always mean to manage the drive without these audio CDs because they aren’t cheap. But at around 100 miles from home I pull into services and go through the racks in WHSmith. Grisham is always there. On my previous trip south I bought ‘Ford County’ and enjoyed it – when driving I need something that doesn’t tax my brain too much, I need most of those little grey cells to handle what is happening on the road around me and John Grisham on audio is about right for that. But I shall not buy any more of his stuff in book form because curled up on the sofa I need something that will engage 100% of my brain (I know that never happens, I’m simply saying it for effect). Grisham’s books have been described as potboilers which is a little unfair. But what the hell, he entertains me whilst driving. I know he’s not Graham Greene or J M Coetzee. They are for curling up with (if you know what I mean).
And Theodore Boone? Well, I’m no critic but I would say it was written for 12 year olds*. It is in big print, with lots of spaces, so there isn’t as much of it as you think. Also, if you are hard-of-seeing, you won’t have trouble reading it.
*Now I know why. Google it and you will see that it is written for children. So why doesn’t it say that anywhere on the version I bought? It says ‘kid lawyer’ on the cover of the US version and ‘young lawyer’ on the early UK versions. So why leave it off, wasn’t it selling? And why was it with Grisham’s ‘adult’ books in WHSmith at the airport last week?
Just when you think you have seen everything, along comes a bread van with the words ‘Scottish Association of Master Bakers’ on its sides.
No comment because I am sure they have heard it all before. Sadly, no photo.
I watched Avatar last night. About thirty minutes into it I realised I was watching cowboys and indians, except that the indians weren’t ‘redskins’ but blueskins. There was even the mandatory, heavily armed redneck. Not only did it remind me of cowboys, it had strong undertones of Dances with Wolves. The graphics were so good that I managed to overcome what to me, a geologist, would normally have been a switch-off moment. The cowboys wanted the indians’ land (surprise!) to exploit deposits of the rare mineral Unobtainium. Yes, you read it right, Unobtainium. Who on earth thought up that little beauty? Their sample of the stuff looked suspiciously like the piece of galena I brought back from Sardinia years ago (I must check my collection to make sure it is still there) – though my sample didn’t levitate like theirs. Didn’t levitate at all, actually. Deja vu here.
James Cameron must have been pretty sure of himself, putting his name up front like that. Had it been a turkey it would be rather like saying Gordon Brown’s Britain or Henry VIII’s marriage.
I have just seen my first 3D colour film (I don’t have a problem with the word ‘movie’ but after my comments about wATERSTONE’S I shall stick with Engish for now. My mother used to say ‘pictures’ and my grandparents ‘moving pictures’ so I daresay in a couple more generations there will be another expression. Some of it isn’t film anyway, is it. It’s digital). The film was (surprise surprise) Toy Story 3. I was invited to a preview in Glasgow. It was stunning. I need to read up and find out how they do 3D colour. The specs had polarised lenses, they weren’t those white cardboard folding things with red and green see-through plastic. I understand polarised light from my A-level physics. Well, I thought I did. Perfect colour, though? No, I don’t. I really don’t. It was so good that my brain took a while to adjust. Oh, and Toy Story 3 was good too. Brilliant. Written for both children and adults. Worth going to see just for Buzz’s electrical fault… no, I won’t spoil it, go and see it. If you don’t have children or grandchildren to go with, find some friends that have. Don’t wait for the DVD, you will miss the amazing 3D.
I see that Waterstone’s has changed its name from a person to a thing. No longer Waterstone’s, it is now waterstone’s, gone from a proper noun to a improper one (though still with an apostrophe, so they haven’t lost their understanding of English useage and grammar completely). This distaste for the use of capital letters is puzzling. Language is a living thing (except French of course) and there are often good reasons for changing it. So what reason could they have for making this particular change? Surely not to impress customers, because the ones I see in the shops tend to be 30+. Perhaps they want to appeal to a younger age group. If that is the reason then they should go the whole hog. Why just drop the W to lower case when they could simply put wstns?
More about bookseller’s apostrophes here