Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Elements of Eloquence

(February 2015)

A pleasingly concise and accessible catalogue of rhetorical figures. While occasionally slightly too pleased with itself in the way that only expensively educated Englishmen of a certain age (and the texts they produce) can be, its underlying message that anyone can be taught to produce a decent turn of phrase is something I can definitely get behind. Would make a nice twofer with You Talkin’ to Me? as a starter set on oratory and persuasion. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

(February 2015)

I really think that Yiyun Li might be my favourite short story writer, and it’s not like that’s a field where competition is thin on the ground. As with Gold Boy, Emerald Girl I find myself fruitlessly casting around for something intelligent to say in order to express just how good this is, and failing utterly. GB,EG might just shade it, to be honest, but that’s such a high bar that even coming close enough to fall short is a significant achievement.

Friday, 20 February 2015

After Me Comes the Flood

(February 2015)

Starts strong but fades a little, though is all the while executed in the most beautifully, transparently opaque prose, which is a ridiculous oxymoron but I can’t think of anything more apt. I know what I mean.

Monday, 2 February 2015

The Wicked + The Divine / Sex Criminals

Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie ,et al, 2014
Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky, et al, 2014
(January 2015)

A double header this time, featuring two of the more buzz-inducing new comics of recent months. It is, of course, grossly unfair to compare them to each other simply because they turned up in the same Amazon shipment, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. I am a fickle and capricious god, as all worthwhile ones are.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Sound of the Mountain

(January 2015)

“Bad books on writing tell you to "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW", a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.”
-Joe Haldeman

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Centauri Device

(January 2015)

Good lord but this but this guy can write. Maybe it’s just because I’m coming off a couple of novels whose prose could be charitably described as ‘utilitarian’, but this was an absolute pleasure. Such a relief to read someone who views language as a thing to bring pleasure instead of a bluntly functional tool with which to bludgeon concepts into the head of the reader.

Monday, 19 January 2015


Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, et al, 2002-2011
(January 2015)

I recently came into a couple of hundredweight of comics.

Oh Christ. Not like that.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Cage of Zeus

(January 2015)

Before we begin, I’m going to refer you back to a previous post, specifically the opening paragraph, which I think must now stand as my standard disclaimer for Japanese SF. All clear? Good. So you’ll understand why I wasn’t expecting great things from this in terms of craft, but even so the first few pages of The Cage of Zeus must count as one of the most inelegant, leaden, and bluntly cack-handed opening scenes I’ve ever read in a professionally published novel.