Monthly Archives: July 2005

A Good Day to Die – Simon Kernick

A Good Day to Die is Kernick‘s fourth book, and it brings back the anti-hero of the first, disgraced ex-copper Dennis Milne.

A Good Day to Die

(Clicking the book cover takes you to Amazon – the commission helps fund Palimpsest)

Kernick’s books are a real strange mix, and I haven’t come across anything quite like them before. On one level, they are pretty standard thrillers, written with plot and pace in mind and conciously without any kind of literary embellishments.

But there are two things which set these apart from other books in the genre. Firstly, a rich vein of black humour runs throughout the book, and the numerous sarcastic asides do raise a smile on the face of the reader; which is all the more surprising given the second standout feature of Kernick’s work which is the sheer grimness of the subject matter. It really is heard to imagine a light-hearted romp involving murderous paedophile gangs, but that really is what this book is (kind of). So you have this real contradiction between style and content, but somehow it just works. I breezed through it in the space of a few hours reading time, I would say, and it’s a clear improvement on the earlier books and a good, no-nonsense read.

Three out of Five

Palimpsest Book Group

Palimpsest has a book group, discussing books read by all the members in a topic on the forum. It has worked really well in the past, but recently has fallen behind a little.

To try and perk things up a bit it was decided that instead of choosing books month-by-month, 6 books should be chosen to cover half a year’s group reading, meaning that everyone knows where they stand. After various discussions and slightly complicated voting systems, the final selection looks like this:

  • 1 September 2005: The Temptation of Saint Anthony, Gustave Flaubert
  • 1 October 2005: No One Writes to the Colonel, Gabriel García Márquez
  • 1 November 2005: The First Men in the Moon/The Sleeper Awakes, H.G. Wells
  • 1 December 2005: Dance, Dance, Dance, Haruki Murakami
  • 1 January 2006: Virtual Light, William Gibson
  • 1 February 2006: The Three-Arched Bridge, Ismail Kadare

Some pretty challenging stuff there!

Personalised Google

Go to a personaliseable (!) version of Google at www.google.com/ig. It’s actually pretty good. You have to log in with your Google ID and password, for example your gmail username, and you can set out various bits of info to have on your screen, as well as the Google search box.

The screen is split into 3 columns. On the left I have a list of favourite links, a preview of my Gmail inbox, a ‘Word of the Day’ thing and the latest feed from Slashdot. In the centre I have a few blogs which I like to monitor regularly. The latest 3 posts in each appear here. Any RSS feed can be subscribed to. On the rightermost (!) column I have various news site feeds, including the BBC and Google News.

When I get home I will stick an image of what my screen looks like. It makes for an excellent homepage.

Wells

Great quote from H.G. Wells in amner’s review of The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells.

The Island of Dr Moreau

An animal may be ferocious and cunning enough, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.

Richard Yates on Palimpsest

One of the great things about Palimpsest is the way it throws up quality discussions about authors I have never heard of. And it brings together fans of that author that might not otherwise ever get to discuss his (or her) work with a fellow devotee.

This happened most recently with Richard Yates. Follow this link to the thread and enjoy. I am certainly going to invest in some Yates in the near future.

Peter Singer

Interesting profile of the Austrailian philosopher Peter Singer in last Saturday’s Guardian Review. I remember reading a book of his for an essay on Practical Ethics for A-Level R.E.

George W Bush and Peter Singer were born on the same day – July 6 1946. But there the similarity ends. Only one is an Australian vegetarian who campaigns against animal cruelty and does not believe in the Judaeo-Christian nostrum of the sanctity of life. Only one supports abortion and infanticide in some cases and backs stem-cell research that uses genetic material from embryos. Only one thinks the world would be better if the US were subject to UN sanctions for emitting more than its fair share of greenhouse gases.

And yet there are parallels. In his 2003 book The President of Good and Evil: Taking George W Bush Seriously, Singer quoted from one of Bush’s speeches: “Some people think it’s inappropriate to make moral judgments anymore. Not me.” To which Singer added: “Well, not me either, so that is one view about morality on which the president and I agree.” Both men, in an age of seeming moral relativism and selfishness, insist on the overwhelming importance of moral renewal.

That book nonetheless argued that Bush’s ethics consisted mostly of hypocrisy and intellectual confusion. By contrast, Singer stresses that his moral philosophy is the product of cold logic. Singer concedes his views are often upsetting for Bush supporters. “In a Christian society we have views about the sanctity of life that were formed in a totally different period when we didn’t have to make decisions about embryos or whether you should keep people alive who are irrevocably unconscious. People get stuck with this ethic from the past, which has not been able to adapt itself to other circumstances because it has been encapsulated in a set of religious beliefs.”

Camping

Went camping this weekend in Montford Bridge. Here’s a few photos we took. Comments below each one.

Inside of the tent

Here’s the inside view of the middle living area of our tent.

tent

The outside view of our ridiculously large tent.

bridge

This might well be the bridge that gives Montford Bridge its name.