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Old 01 September 2017, 10:55 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,334

I didn't finish much that was new in August.

I read A Partisan's Daughter by Louis de Bernières, which is about a guy in an unhappy marriage who falls in love with a woman from Yugoslavia - it's set in the late 70s / early 80s before the country broke up. It's narrated alternately by him and by the woman, who is the partisan's daughter in the title. Both of them are unreliable narrators, to different degrees - especially the woman; it's hard to know how much of her story is "real", and there are a few inconsistencies such as her age, and whether or not she's working as a prostitute, to decipher. The man is more reliable but you still get the impression he's dishonest about some of his motives and feelings - and habits. So, interesting overall, and quite sad in the end.

I also read a book about whisky, Still Life With Bottle: Whisky according to Ralph Steadman, which is as much about Steadman's illustrations as it is about the text. My mum gave me a copy from her charity books a few years ago, and it's been on the shelf for a while. The text is in short essays and has a varying degree of coherence, but it's interesting. I didn't learn much that I didn't already know, but there are a few good facts and tidbits, and the illustrations are great.

And I've nearly finished Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I got this in New York last year, because I enjoyed Reamde and hadn't seen many of Stephenson's other books in the UK. This is amazing - I think I have a new favourite living author. He reminds me of Iain (M) Banks in the scope of the worlds and societies he thinks up, but he's a lot more detailed and precise about it, he's more concerned with the science, and in this case, it has a lot of actual proper philosophy in it, although presented in a fictional context. There are plenty of genuine surprises and twists, and as well as the philosophical discussions, some pretty good action set-pieces and explosions as well. I'm going to get a copy for my brother for his birthday, as I think he'd like it too.

And happily, it seems that Stephenson is becoming more widely available in the UK, since I found several others of his when I went to spend my birthday book token yesterday. I picked up a copy of Seveneves among other things I bought. (Not violating my rules as I'm allowed to spend book tokens and gift money!)
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