Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Look! I’m in a book! (sort of)

April 26, 2013

During the past few weeks, I have set aside my disinterest in all things coffee-related so that I can, in my own small way, aid the delivery of something useful to the caffeinista community. That thing is a book which encourages you – yes, YOU (or maybe not you. We barely know each other. And what do I know anyway?) – to quit your nine-to-five and turn your dream project into a reality, using a table in any Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shop as your new workspace.

out of office cover

Out of Office is written by my friend and yours (if you happen to be an original member of London Dynamo), mister Chris Ward.

out of office chris ward in london dynamo jersey

Chris asked me to help him knock his words into shape, and he has kindly thanked me on page 188 of his compact, 198-page tome…

out of office special thanks

…which, as book publishing high points go, is almost as exciting as the time my patience was graciously acknowledged in the credits of the 2007 Rouleur annual.

rouleur annual 2007 credits

This isn’t all about me, though. Well, it is, because this is my blog. But let’s focus on the other Chris for a second. I’m not terrifically keen on the possibility that cafés could be overrun with wannabe entrepreneurs, or the clunky portmanteau ‘coffice’, but Chris has some insightful things to say about social media, the use of technology and implementing ideas. He’s the fella who brought Friends Reunited to the masses and he’s worked on Red Nose Day, which means he knows what he’s talking about. So even if you don’t walk out of your job and straight into whatever trendy coffee shop everyone is banging on about these days, armed with only a laptop and a dream, you’ll still find something of interest in Chris’s book as long as you have an inquisitive mind.

Out of Office fits in the pocket of your cycling jersey and costs a tenner. It will be on sale in coffee shops and some other outlets, which are listed here. I’m going to read it again. With a tea.

Saturday blight

March 5, 2011

I received a comment about my post on the ropy Ian McEwan novel Saturday this week, and my instinct was to hit the delete button because I knew the nitwit who wrote it had arrived at this blog for a very different reason. Then I realised I may not ever get a chance to publish anything quite so daft ever again, and it sort of ties in with what I’ll be writing about in my next post. So here, for your enjoyment and mine, are the words of some tit called Christopher Parkman in all their glory…

“How else dear boy is a character not going to have a thought ‘artificially placed there by the dullard narrator’? He isn’t real, it’s a novel, the clue is in the word ‘fiction’.

“Have you even read any Woolf? She practically invented that type of leaden psychological prose. What the fuck does expatiation mean anyway, do you mean expiation? You know what I hate? When people use long words that they don’t understand to try and make themselves look clever. Anyway I’m sure that you know better than Salman Rushdie, Clive James and Martin Amis who all regard McEwan as one of the best writers of his generation.”

Well, I was hardly challenging McEwan’s reputation, just expressing an opinion about one novel in particular which even some of his fans seem to think is a bit of a stinker (see comments). Full marks for noticing that “fiction” is stuff that’s made up, but this isn’t just fiction: it is considered to be literature, so it is supposed to use artifice to express some sort of higher truth or insight. To me, Woolf does this and Saturday doesn’t. As for “expatiation”, the word means to write in great detail, which the author does regarding the unease and conflicting opinions of the British public prior to the war with Iraq. “Expiation”, on the other hand, is atonement, which I gather is another of Mr. McEwan’s novels. Still, at least we can agree on one thing: it is annoying when people get unusual words wrong, isn’t it, dear boy?

Having said all that, I don’t think Christopher Parkman actually meant any of the badly-formed thoughts he thwacked into a keyboard with his limp, pudgy paw. Because the fact is, he called me, my friends and acquaintances “c*nts” on Twitter for no good reason, then came over here after I blocked him. So I reckon he was simply after a good old-fashioned interweb anger w*nk, and I sincerely hope he left this blog feeling fully satisfied.

And the reason for him being so narky? He doesn’t like the cycling club I ride with. Yep, it really is that shallow and pathetic. But there are quite a few chippy loners in the two-wheeled community who have a problem with London Dynamo, and I think it’s best I address the ‘Mo hate in one long, er, expatiation, rather than coming back to it in a series of desultory skirmishes like this one. Which is exactly what I intend to do next…

Dynamightgiveitamiss No.4: Saturday

February 14, 2011

Saturday. Ah, Saturday. So ruddy clever, choosing the title ‘Saturday’. Because you can work out what that Ian McEwan chap has done there, can’t you? He’s taken the most enjoyable part of the week and, through a worthy expatiation on Iraq set on a single day in London, turned it into a really tedious novel. Or perhaps the fun part is trying to work out how a Mercedes-driving superhero surgeon, who has sired a talented blues musician and an accomplished poet with his attractive high-flying lawyer wife, is somehow unable to have a single thought in his head that isn’t artificially placed there by the dullard narrator. (“The one thing Perowne thinks he knows about this war is that it’s going to happen. With or without the UN. The troops are in place, they’ll have to fight…” Not exactly Mrs Dalloway, is it?)

Bad novels reap good reviews all the time, but I haven’t read any other book where the gap between critical veneration and readers’ displeasure has been quite as large. Have a look at the comments here and decide for yourself.

The Dynamighty No.4: A Confederacy Of Dunces

February 6, 2011

I think we all agree that it’s impossible to define objectively what is and isn’t funny, yes? Well, no, actually, let’s not agree that is the case at all, because the only reason why you wouldn’t concur with the notion that A Confederacy Of Dunces is the absolute pinnacle of funniness is because you haven’t got round to reading it yet. Absurd, filthy, wise and true, this is, quite simply, the holy grail of comic novels. Plot-wise, nothing much actually happens: Ignatius J. Reilly, a kind of grown-up version of Spoilt Bastard from Viz but with an enormous scholarly intellect that matches the scale of his girth, self-delusion and flatulency, unwittingly changes the lives of those he encounters as he wanders quixotically from one dead-end job to the other. The real magic is in the dialogue, which revels in the peculiarities of the New Orleans accent as much as Ignatius indulges his horrified fascination with popular culture and the morality of others. And I think we all, at times, have felt a similar kind of splenetic outrage to Ignatius. Or is that just me?

Anyway, ignore the background stories that have enveloped this novel – the tragic death of its author John Kennedy Toole, the movie industry leaving the screen adaptation stranded in development hell for more than 30 years – and simply buy it, read, and laugh like you have never laughed before. There is no other book like it.

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