Thoughts on things I’ve experienced.

Book review: Faith, Hope and Carnage

The cover of FAITH, HOPE & CARNAGE by Nick Cave and Seán O'Hagan

Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave and Seán O’Hagan
My rating: five stars

I’ve been a fan of Nick Cave’s work for a couple of decades, but I admit to having held a certain amount of cynicism about the guy (and parts of his output) over the years. Partially this was a bit of a pose, part of it was (perhaps justified) criticism at the increased deification and man-of-letters mantle he’d been gifted by certain parts of his fanbase, and by his home country of late, which of course disregards the fact that he had to fuck off to England and Germany before earning any sort of praise here.

The news of the death of Arthur, Cave’s son, put paid to that. Selfishly, it allowed me to focus more on the work than the man – it seemed like a particularly cunty act to want to run down a man (remember that Nick Cave & the Bad Everything photo?) in the wake of such terrible events. How would someone bear such a thing? How would they survive? How do you keep getting up in the morning?


Book review: Mount Analogue

A picture of the cover of the Tusk Ivories edition of René Daumal's MOUNT ANALOGUE: A NOVEL. Cover is green with dark blue lines, and features an image of a mountain range.

Mount Analogue by René Daumal
My rating: three stars

Here we go: a book about climbing mountains. About climbing one mountain in particular: Mount Analogue.

There’s a slight snag in this crampons-and-rope plan, however: the mountain doesn’t exist.

(I mean, until a voyage to a corner of the Pacific, where it’s suddenly discovered that it does.)

Were you expecting anything less from a book written by a pataphysician and Gurdjieff devotee?

(I wasn’t.)


Book review: Cryptonomicon

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
My rating: four stars

I first read Cryptonomicon more than 20 years ago, when it first was released. A good friend of mine was visiting from the US – I lived in London at this point – and had a copy of the book in his satchel.

It sounded cool, and so I found a copy, read it, and while there was a lot I didn’t understand in it, I enjoyed the hell out of it, which was quite remarkable because at the time I wasn’t really into 1000-page epics.

I figured it had been long enough that I should revisit: to see a) if it was still as impressive and b) whether I understood it any better.


Book review: Cinema Speculation

Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino
My rating: four stars

Are you a film nerd?

You probably are if you’re interested in reading this book. I mean, you’d probably have to be a film nerd to be interested in the very specific period of filmmaking (and styles of film) that are this title’s focus.

There’s one thing I can guarantee, however: you are not and will never be as big a film nerd as Quentin Tarantino. (Or as big a dick as he is, some might add. Some)

Thankfully, the Tarantino on display between the covers of Cinema Speculation is the amiable nerd who wants to share his passion rather than a ponytail-free Comic Book Guy. In fact, the copy within might prove to be some of the best QT PR in quite some time.


Book review: Tigana

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: four stars

When I was a kid, I got onto the Tolkien trip and read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Pretty cool, I thought.

Then I tried The Silmarillion and man, did those emergency brakes slam on. I haven’t tried that one since, and that was… about 35 years ago, now.

“Language. The process of sharing with words seemed such a futile exercise sometimes.”


Book (and movie?) review: Solaris

Solaris by Stanisław Lem
My rating: three stars

Apparently this wasn’t the first time I’d read Solaris.

After I’d finished this Kindle edition – one with the Lem-approved translation, executed by Bill Johnston – I discovered an older, dog-eared copy of the work on my shelves. I must have read that version from the time in university when I had a Russian partner who was interested in getting me into Russian literature, to the extent that I wrote some essays for her. (On Goncharov, I think? I can’t quite remember.)

Anyway, being unable to remember treading those star-paths before seemed to be very in keeping with the work itself, and I assume Lem would approve.


2022 consumption: a look at some stuff I liked

Here we are again at the end of a year that feels like it only began the other week. It’s been a big one for lots of reasons, and I’ve gotten through it OK – I think? – but I have to take issue with my hopeful belief in the last one of these things that I’d somehow get more motivation in 2022.


I didn’t.

In keeping with my lack of motivation, this recap may be a little shorter than previous years, but I’m hoping there’s still something in here that might pique your interest. It’s a collection of stuff that I enjoyed (or didn’t) through this year, and is one in a continuing line. Faintly ridiculous effort, but this will make it ten years of this kinda stuff, so let’s go.

Previous versions are here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here and here if you need an introduction.



The end of the year is coming up fast. By which I mean to say that at time of writing it’s tomorrow.

So I figured I should really get off my arse and review some of the books I’ve consumed in the time since I last posted.

(Which is, as ever, far too long ago.)

They probably won’t be too long, but still… here we go.


Book reviews: snow, slaughter and silliness

Time for a trio? Time for a trio. Here’s three books I’ve finished – one audio, one ebook, and one physical – that are about as different from each other as they can be. One’s fiction, one’s nonfiction, and the other is… well, you’ll see.

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au
My rating: four stars

This novella, winner of the inaugural Novel Prize (bankrolled by Giramondo, New Directions and Fitzcarraldo), is a pretty quick read, though it remains a little elusive to pin down.