Monday 30 December 2013

The Best of All Possible Worlds

(December 2013)

A curate’s egg, this one. Despite my generally favourable opinions regarding Ms Lord’s other book, she goes straight ahead and nicks my title (Voltaire? Who he?) and then slaps it on a novel which is one of those best described as ‘interesting but flawed’.

Friday 27 December 2013

Books That Stay With You

It’s that awkward dead space between Christmas and New Year. No bugger’s going to read this anyway so here’s some unashamed filler to keep thing ticking over, with a grateful nod to Pep at Two Dudes (whose own list is charming and erudite and definitely not filler, I should point out).

Anyway, here are ten books that still stick in my mind, presented in a rough order of personal chronology. It’s noticeable that a lot of these books stay with me due to the circumstances in which I read them, rather than just for the stories themselves. Context is everything, in case there was any remaining doubt.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Friday 20 December 2013

So This Is Christmas

 Fried Chicken!


Santa on a Cross!

Tacky Commercialization!



Barely Concealed Racism!

I think that’s everything. Please let me know if I’ve missed any of the traditional expat tropes. It is frightfully difficult to keep track.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Empty Space

(December 2013)

More proof, if proof were needed, that M. John Harrison is a phenomenal writer. Further proof also that the breadth and scope of his imagination completely outstrips my ability to say anything intelligent or even coherent about it.

Monday 16 December 2013

Subtle Hint

About as subtle as Google+ (Available options: 'sign up now', or 'learn more'. Conspicious by its absence: 'do fuck off'), for which apologies, but at least I'm not depriving you of the unmitigated torrent of wisdom and human compassion that is the youtube comments section.

Meanwhile, in my other life as a mild-mannered linguistics student (I wear glasses don't you know. As alter ego disguises go it's utterly foolproof) I've written a couple of longer posts, trying to thrash out some ideas regarding Teacher Talk in the ELT classroom.

This may or (more likely) may not be your thing, but if any of you fancy having a look and offering suggestions or criticism (or even abuse as long as it's funny) I'd be much obliged -

Efficiency and Redundancy in the L2 Classroom

Friday 13 December 2013

Fingering the Pulse

This could have been so much worse

My ongoing twitter experiment to try and maintain some semblance of a grasp on current events continues to bear mixed fruit. The consensus on recent events appears to be that we’re all going to die in the now inevitable Sino-Japanese pissing contest over a bunch of rocks, but that’s OK because no one is allowed to talk about it anyway.

Wednesday 11 December 2013


(December 2013)

What with the bear as a mascot and the droll spaghetti, our studio anthropologists will have no trouble in postulating an Orient which is exotic in form, while being in reality profoundly similar to the Occident, at least the Occident of spiritualist thought.

Monday 9 December 2013

We See a Different Frontier

(December 2013)

Right, let’s get this out of the way straight off: that’s a pretty weak cover. I realize it’s probably aiming for some jerry-rigged bioengineering kind of thing, but I doubt “failed experiment to crossbreed a sickly croissant with a camper van” was the effect anyone was after. Never mind, move past it; the stories are what matter and I’m pleased to report that they’re really very good.

Friday 6 December 2013

Laughing All the Way

We put up the christmas decorations last weekend. Well, I say ‘we’. I put them up while my wife tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to prevent the kids from eating the tinsel. They’ve been shitting glitter for the last five days, which if nothing else makes for a more festive visual experience during nappy changes.

Wednesday 4 December 2013


(November 2013)

I know I’ve riffed on the whole ‘experimental books that are really just kids’ books with bigger words’ angle only recently, but I’m afraid it’s something I must revisit here. For all the comparisons being made between S., House of Leaves, and Pale Fire, I’m afraid it’s most obvious literary antecedent is The Jolly Postman. I fucking loved that book.