Friday, May 14, 2010

This And That And Thomas Cromwell

Another end of the week round-up of miscellaneous jottings - the accumulated fluff at the bottom of the drawer of my subconscious mind. This week it seems to have a literary theme to it.

The other day I downloaded the Free Audiobooks App for my iPhone and I have become a great fan. With the election over and the football season at an end, the range of podcasts to keep me entertained whilst I walk Amy is somewhat limited. Audiobooks, which makes use of the range of readings available on the LibriVox website, plugs any gap, even on the longest of walks. LibriVox is the Internet at its best: free of charge, volunteer-based, and great quality. Free Audiobooks is the iPhone App at its best : well-designed, simple to use and costing less than a cup of coffee. Currently I am listening an fine reading of Arnold Bennett's "Tales of the Five Towns". Excellent stuff.

Talking of Arnold Bennett, I was in Leeds on Wednesday and decided on a lunch-time pint in the wonderfully old Ship Inn. I am never happy having a pint without a good book to read and therefore I stopped off at Waterstones for a browse. I have read most of Arnold Bennett's books, but I did spot a slim volume called "The Human Machine" by Bennett which I had never heard of before. It was published by a small publishing house that specialises in the publication and distribution of rare and out of print books. So Arnold Bennett and I went off for a pint at the Ship. A pint of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin later I discovered why the book had been out of print for so long. Far from excellent stuff. At least it shows that even the best writers can write a poor book.

Talking of books, I need some advice. So far I have managed to plough through 307 pages of Hilary Mantel's epic best-seller "Wolf Hall". There are a further 341 pages to go and I face the prospect with anything but unrestrained joy. Whilst it is well written and interesting from an historical perspective, I do find it lacking in pace. It is the kind of book that Readers' Digest Condensed Books was invented for. What I need to know from anyone who has managed all 600+ pages is, is it worth it? Or is life too short to sit alongside Thomas Cromwell watching paint dry?

Finally, a reminder that the Linky Sign Up for Sepia Saturday is up on the Sepia Saturday Blog. Most people now tend to link after posting so you will probably have to wait until Saturday to see what's on offer. But, unlike Arnold Bennett and Wolf Hall, satisfaction is guaranteed.


  1. Hi
    I was beguiled by Wolf Hall. I certainly didn't find it easy at first but at some point it 'clicked' and I found myself seeing the world through Cromwell's eyes and living his life (a bit like suddenly finding you are Peter Mandleson - !).
    I wonder if it caught me because the machinations of the world he inhabited somehow reminded me of the DH and NHS...
    Hope it happens for you.

  2. Hilary Mantel is undoubtedly a good writer and, I think for this one, you have to be prepared for the slow burn rather than the fizzle and pop!

  3. Alan, re. Wolf's Hall; my wife seems to have reached the same point as you; no pace and she has not finished it. I think you have given me the second reason why I probably won't start it.

  4. 'the accumulated fluff at the bottom of the drawer of my subconscious mind' .... love this phrase!

    Just like you must have a book to accompany your beer, I must have coffee with my reading material. There's something reassuringly human about even the best writers turning out the occasional bit of less than stellar stuff.

    Wolf Hall is on my list for the winter. Huge tomes somehow require the fireside cosiness of a long, cold winter, but as I am moving to the area which has the warmest climate in Canada, I may need to have a re-think.

  5. Haven't read that one, but read 'A Change of Climate' while I was in Tenby (very apt, I know) and couldn't put it down. But then, maybe if I hadn't had superglue on my fingers at the time, this would have helped.

  6. A pint and a book in an English pub? Sounds like a wonderful way to while away the hours. Can't help with Wolf Hall, I'd be pinging to the last pages I think. Anything that size has me running a mile!

  7. I'm not even that far into Wolf Hall yet - I have to keep re-reading the dialogue because I keep losing track of who's talking! And the book is too big to read in bed...


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