Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Tag-A-Book Day

I've been tagged by MatGB, the bastard; since I feel that I must fulfill my obligations, here is the Book Tag.

1. One book that changed your life - the hardest question first.
Changed my life? Tricky. I don't think that any book has changed my life, as such. Erm... I'll go with Lord of the Rings on the grounds that it opened up the idea of a fantasy world with a plausible grounding (the languages, etc.). There have been other books that have done it better since I first read LotR over 20 years ago, but this trilogy remains a milestone.

2. One book that you've read more than once
One book? I reread many, many books over and over again. But, I shall go with Iain M Banks's Use Of Weapons; Zakalwe is one of the coolest characters ever written.

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island
Ah, well, I'm going to cheat again. It's not one book, it is the Alms For Oblivion series by Simon Raven. Corruption and venality in high places; every single character is, in some way, rather unpleasant—usually vain, selfish or sickenly sanctimonious—but you know that they would be immense fun at a cocktail party. Alternatively, George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series would also be choice...

4. One book that made you laugh
The book that makes me laugh more than any other is Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It is the sequence where the hero has burned cigarette holes in everything that really gets me...

5. One book that made you cry
I am a real softy; there are quite a few books and films that make me cry; but, without doubt it is The Amber Spyglass (Phillip Pullman) is the one that gets me every time. I would never want to have to make that choice but I can picture myself doing so and the thought of it guts me.

6. One book that you wish you had written
I would love to have written The Complete Molesworth; unfortunately, Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle got there first, chiz chiz*.

7. One book you wish had never been written
Is there such a thing? Oh, yes, those books written in ITA, the reading system which set my spelling back about 8,000,000 years...

8. One book that you are reading at the moment
I'm reading Iain Banks's The Business but I have just finished (for the billionth time) Donna Tartt's The Secret History, a book which I simply cannot recommend enough.

9. One book that you've been meaning to read
Ummm. This is actually rather pertinent as my mother gave me Book Tokens for my birthday; I would like to read David Mitchell's Black Swan Green.

10. Five others that you’d like to do this
Five? Five! For fuck's sake, you want me to think now? Erm...
1. The P-G.
2. Bookdrunk.
3. Deogolwulf.
4. The Longrider.
5. Dr Crippen.

* A chiz is a swiz or swindle as any fule kno.


RfS said...

those books written in ITA, the reading system which set my spelling back about 8,000,000 years...

Damn, me too. I thought it was only Renfrewshire schoolkids that were academically abused in Primary school. Today myself and my brother remain enthousiastic writers but terrible spellers because ITA tought us that it is OK to be wrong as long as no one ever tried to tell us it was wrong. Bastards.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh no, we poor bastards in English state primaries were also taught using this ludicrous system and, as you say, it screws one's spelling...


MatGB said...

I'm glad to say I never encountered it; was taught basic alphabet by my mother before going to school, and we had phonetics for the first two years, which made perfect sense to me then and now.

Just learn the bloody language and don't worry too much if you make a few mistakes, it's not like functioning adults get it right all the time.

As it happens, book I'm most likely to re-read currently is either Weapons or Player of Games, but I really want to read Algebraist first as I've heard good things. Got the first paragraph done last night.

Mr Eugenides said...

Absolutely spot on about the Culture novels.

When I read Consider Phlebas at school I had to consciously stop myself from turning back to page one as I finished it. Imagine my delight upon finding that The Player of Games was even better. It's like when you're in bed with a supermodel and, just when you think life can't improve, her girlfriend walks in the door...

As for The Secret History, it is the only book I have read that is universally loved by everyone I have lent it too. My dog-eared copy now has Donna Tartt's autograph proudly inscribed therein, and I swear she was delighted when she saw its extreme state of disrepair.

Devil's Kitchen said...

The Culture novels are stunners: I am constantly torn between Use Of Weapons and Player Of Games as my favourites. I also have to say that Look To Windward could easily have featured in the "book that makes me cry" category. And I love Inversions because I spot new clues in it every time that I read it.

The Algebraist was good, but not as delightful as the Culture novels. The Grauniad summed it up nicely, I thought (I never thought I'd say those words!).

Imagine that the storyteller has a well-educated and thoughtful mind with which he fills you in on all the details of these new worlds and peculiar personalities, and that he has the skill to paint in words the most breathtaking portraits of our universe on levels from the chemical to the personal.

Imagine that he is hugely enthusiastic and charming, and that his thoughtful analyses of contemporary human politics range from the individual to the mass, from theory to action, from ideology to consequence.

Imagine that his editor is on holiday.

Pretty fair, I think...


Deogolwulf said...

You sod!

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