Monday, August 01, 2011

A Keyboard Designed for a Pixie

Hello, remember me?

I've been to work. A proper job, mind you. Not that arty-farty stuff I do from the comfort of my study. No - this is work, work. The sort where you wear a dark sombre suit, talk about project timetables, risks and issues, owners and SMEs. A job that involves sitting in an office with nice views and free coffee, where you get given a Blackberry (a horrible thing, which doesn't do anything intuitively and comes with a keyboard designed for a pixie), and a lap top and have to fill your days with important meetings and workshops. The good thing about this is that I'm paid money that I can actually use in shops and bars as opposed to the slips of IOUs I made at home that are refused by all major (and minor) establishments. The downside is, I have rather less time to get things done. But, I am working, if very slowly. Look here's a sneak preview of the first bit of "Last Words of the Human Race," if only to prove to you that I haven't been slacking.

"Last Words of the Human Race."
Last week was my first visit to the Edinburgh Literary Salon after a year. It was good to be back and fortuitous as that night they mentioned the continuation of the Edinburgh Literary Bloggers. As some of you might remember these were hosted by the Guardian on their local news site. It was an experiment which they decided after a year was not for them and so the site was left to rot. Luckily a plucky group of volunteers have stepped in to resurrect the blogs and include other Edinburgh based literary detail. It's early day yet, but watch this space.

The Edinburgh Festival starts this week, therefore I will soon be able to fill these page with plenty of relevant details. I have tickets to several events and I'll do a write up here.

Read this week:

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
I like Palahniuk's playfulness. He always tries out different approaches to telling a story. Sometimes this is successful, other times it gets in the way of the plot. 'Haunted' partially works. It's horror of a type more concerned with the human body than things that go bump in the night, reminding me somewhat of films like 'Saw' and other 'torture porn.'
It's made up many short stories, each one the voice of a protagonist. Each of them want to be a writer and have responded to an advert to go on a writers retreat. It soon becomes apparent that things are not as they seem.
It's good, but I never felt a kinship with any of the characters and this holds it back from being real horror. In many ways it's a dark humorous parody of horror.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
I like books about magic in the real world. I particularly like them when they are set in London. I'm thinking Hellblazer, Mike Carey's 'Felix Castor' novels and Kate Griffin's 'Matthew Swift' books. To these can now be added the character of Peter Grant - a young PC, dragged into a world of magicians and dark deeds on the streets of London.
The first book deals with a killer on the streets, a killer with familiar exaggerated features; river nymphs, the last wizard of London, vampires and talking spirits.
To differentiate it from other similar works, the character of PC Grant is young and black. This opens up multi ethnic London in ways the other works merely touch upon. It is however, his obvious love of the city that brings this book alive. Aaronovitch knows London and describes it as it is. So vivid is his mention of his surroundings it is almost possible to make a mental map backed up by an A to Z of the journey Peter grant takes. A good first book. I'm already reading book two int he series.

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