Saturday, July 29, 2006

Good books from heavy boxes

Having moved into our house thirteen and a half months ago, I finally got around to shifting a pile of boxes of books (about sixteen or so) out of our dining room and into the thin passageway underneath the stairs. A great tower of cardboard no longer cluttering up a useful room, but now safely and neatly stowed out of everyone’s sight. Why didn’t my wife nag me more about this sooner?!

So many memories of good books came flooding back to me as I flicked through the boxes. Some highlights …

Benedict le Vay’s Eccentric London tells you so may things you’d probably not otherwise find out about areas in London. One example:

“Near King’s Cross, where Gray’s Inn Road and Pentonville Road converge(we’re on the blue corner of the Monopoly Board), there's what's known as the King’s Cross lighthouse which sits on top of a plain four-storey building. Some claim it was once a fairground helter-skelter tower but it would have to have been, impossibly and improbably, moved up there. How? Why? Inspections of the interior, say Camden council, show that it can’t have been a clock tower or a camera obscura.”
Tim Moore’s French Revolutions describes the consequences of Tim’s impetuous decision to cycle all 3,630 km of the Tour de France route. Tim wasn’t too fit at the start, and knew nothing about bicycles and cycling. But his stamina, endurance and family support—to say nothing of Vaseline, cheating and drugs (sounds a bit like the real Tour!)—helped him complete his adventure.

Magnus Mills’ All Quiet on the Orient Express, The Restraint of Beasts and The Scheme for Full Employment. What can I say? All brilliantly dark, comic novels, with sinister characters inhabiting stripped back locations. Mills has a knack of depicting truly awful situations down to a tee.

And lots, lots more good books.


John Self said...

Ah, Magnus Mills. He must surely be some sort of genius - in my opinion anyway. I admit I think he went off the boil with The Scheme for Full Employment, but his latest novel Explorers of the New Century is a definite return to form, and well worth picking up when it comes out in paperback next month if you haven't read it already. The parallels to our own world and the themes are much clearer there than in his earlier novels. I also love Three to See the King, which has vaguely religious overtones, and reminds me that I must re-read it (which never takes long with his books being so delightfully brief).

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Some kind of dark evil genius.

Scheme for Full Employment was slightly lighter - not as gut-wrenchingly agonising to read.

As a result I got my life to read it - she'd given up on All Quiet On ... feeling it was too twisted and emotionally draining!

I'll look out for the new one.

Howard said...

Mmm 'Eccentric London'. Could be a useful book for me! Having just moved to London, I appreciated finding a number of boxes that had remained 'unpacked'. There are some advantages I guess.

I'll look forward to keeping up with all the news from Belfast. Thanks Alan.

John Self said...

Revisited Three to See the King last week. Still brilliant.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

I have his "new" one Explorers of the New Century with me in Ipswich this week ... hopefully it will be marginally less depressing than the local news.

It's not good to recognise the names of Copdock, Nacton, Hintlesham on the news and recognise the areas and know the local hotels.