Sunday 31 March 2019

What I've Been Reading Recently

Three months have gone by since last time, so here's what I've read since the start of the year.

Obelisk by Stephen Baxter
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
Closet Queens by Michael Black
The Thatcherite Offensive by Alexander Gallas
Ruling the Void by Peter Mair
The Great Terror by Robert Conquest
After Blair by Kieran O'Mara
Over To You by Roald Dahl
In Defence of Politics by Bernard Crick
The Functional Analysis of Politics by Roy E Jones
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
The Light of Other Days by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter
Deleuze, Marx and Politics by Nicholas Thoburn
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Roxana by Daniel Defoe
The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
Deleuze and Marx by Dhruv Jain (ed)
Billy Bathgate by EL Doctorow

Baxter and Atwood have preponderant entries on this list. Baxter is an unmissable, but I think underappreciated presence in British science fiction. His stuff is the super hard stuff and, at times, can get a bit carried away with the science-splaining. Social commentary-wise he's not a patch on Iain M Banks or Our Ken, but given his maths and engineering background Baxter's scientific imagination is astounding. I recommend all three books here, and especially The Time Ships. As a sequel to HG Wells's classic, The Time Machine, it is, well, completely bonkers but utterly gripping. Some of the stuff in there about the nature of time makes you wonder how such a book could possibly have been written and published in the mid-90s.

And yes, the Atwood. I've always found her stuff hit and miss but all three here are absolutely superb. Cat's Eye is a meditation on lifelong relationships and childhood memory, which are later weaved into the controversial art of the main protagonist. A brilliant novel and rightly held up as one of Atwood's best. Hag-Seed is a rarity because, unusually for Atwood, the main character is a man. It centres around the production of The Tempest, while the novel's narrative structure and plot points mirrors that of the play. Funny and life affirming, I couldn't help but think this is bound to turn up as a Netflix film some day. And lastly is Edible Woman, one of Atwood's earliest novels written when she was a postgrad student in the late 60s. Reflecting the ambivalence to the standard pattern of life then available to women and a sudden shift in what was becoming possible, it is a tale of a woman undergoing a slow disintegration and loss of agency as marriage and respectability approaches, and in inchoate rebellion against it. A book that doesn't get talked about often, it is worth your time.

Also, a quick work on Thoburn's book on Marx and Deleuze. This is particularly useful because he uses Deleuze to discipline some of the exuberance you find in post-Marxist reworkings of him - above all our mate Antonio Negri. Really useful and interesting to anyone who thinks Deleuze's work has something to offer Marxist analysis.


asquith said...

Sounds like a good list, I myself am preparing for a trip to Poland (the city of Torun) at Easter so the following are on mine.

Poland: A History (Adam Zamoyski)
Various travel Guides & Polabnd: Traveller's Gazeteer (Adam Zamoyski)
Heart of Europe & God's Playground (Norman Davies)
The Eagle Unbowed (Halik Kochanski)
The Four Loves (CS Lewis- I read it every Easter)
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (Sue Townsend- sadly missed comic and commentor)
Warsaw 1920 (Adam Zamoyski)

The last one reminds us that whatever mask the men in the Kremlin wear they will always be imperialists and will always come up with some way of deceiving people in the west into supporting their imperialism. Lenin's attack on Poland thankfully failed but says a lot about his true nature and should be remembered by all.

If anyone knows of any books or films on Poland they are welcome to give their recommendations.

DFTM said...

Samir Amin's Accumulation on a world scale.

Boffy should be strapped to a chair and forced to read it and not let go until he can quote every sentence. Think Clockwork orange.