For the last 2 years I have been reading classic literature during my daily commute. I recently made a conscious decision to return to more biographical and fictional works as it isn’t easy imbibing ancient Greek sophist material, while surrounded by the weird and not so wonderful characters of SE London! Imagen trying to analyse ‘The Allegory of the cave’ with an armpit in your face or a drunken tramp cackling in your ear; while also trying to anticipate the random braking patterns of London bus drivers. I doubt that’s the kind of environment Plato would have wanted his work read in!
I wasn’t sure what lighter material I wanted to read, so I decided to let them chose me (taking guidance from a plot line in the Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón). This may sound a little ridiculous but leaving it to chance/fate has been working a treat! With the last 5 books approaching me in the following ways; a random post from a friend on facebook about ‘Headlong’ by Michael Frayn, accidentally finding out Henrie Charrier did a follow up to ‘Papillion’ called ’Banco’ on Amazon, reading a review of the Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz, ‘The Men that Stare at Goats’ film leading to a conversation about ‘The Alchemist’; and, a 2 hour browse in a book shop on Russell Square leading to the purchase of ‘The Book with No Name’ by Anonymous!
I have provided a brief overview of two of these books below (and no I am not trying to take over where Richard & Judy left off !). I will address the remaining books and related material in a later post, as these all had a similar theme. A theme which presented me with some thought provoking and cathartic moments (it may be surprising to see ‘The Hot Tub Time machine’ film written about in the same prose as the classic fable ‘The Alchemist’).
Overview Michael Frayn’s - Headlong:
Michael Frayn's Headlong begins with the main character Martin Clay, deciding to leave his job as a philosopher to pursue a career in art history. He is in the process of writing a book on the iconography/iconology (reading of the paintings and hidden messages) of 16th Century Netherlandish art. Clay is invited to his neighbours, Tony Churt, who wants him to have a look at some old paintings that he wants to offload. One of the pictures is - so Clay believes - a missing masterpiece by Pieter Bruegel the elder. He doesn't tell Churt what he believes (and how it may be worth millions), and begins hatching a devious plan to bring the picture into his own possession.
Clay investigates the possibility that the painting is the missing masterpiece, and tries to figure out how to get Churt to part with it without arousing his suspicion. Bruegel’s life in the 16th century is also examined in depth, as is the horrible Dutch history of that time, and the circumstances that might have led to the disappearance of this particular work. The fictional theories and ideas entwined with factual history make for fascinating reading. All in all a clever and fun novel which is a must read for any art enthusiasts.
Overview of ‘The Book with No Name’ – Author Anonymous:
This book flaunted itself at me from the bookshop shelf, like a cheap hobag ! I was hunting for a book to read while I was in Edinburgh for the Comedy festival (fat chance of any reading up there with Shirley & Shirley!!) and in Barcelona for my photography course (blog updates on both to follow). I was looking for something that had the ‘I will just read 1 more chapter’ effect on me like ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ by Susan Clarke (my favourite book to date) did. I had never heard of this book and it turns out it was created as an internet based publication. The combination of the name, cover design and the epilogue sold it to me! ‘Tarantino meets The Da Vinci Code’.
The characters in the book say it all; Sanchez the bartender, El Santino the crime boss, several bounty hunters, a hitman dressed as Elvis, two ass kicking monks, a retired cop and a detective from the Department of Supernatural Investigations. With a full moon on the way, a missing mystical stone called the ‘Eye of the Moon’ and some restless vampires all thrown in to boot!
Although it is difficult to follow all the character introductions at the start, it is well worth persevering with as this is a fantastic read. The writing may leave a little to be desired in places but the constant Tarantino style slayings and mystic intrigue had me spell bound. Highly recommended especially if you miss your flight and have to wait 4 hours on standby.
Edge...krrrr.. over and out
The cathartic musings of a CRE8IV mind, living at the EDGE of chaos.