NWR What are we reading thread?

Max Allen’s latest book, “Intoxicating- Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia”

This looks excellent. I see a reference to the Tasmanian beverage 'Blow My Skull', which sounds very similar to the Hangman’s Blood described by Richard Hughes in A High Wind in Jamaica.

A recipe for this compound of sugar, lime, brandy, rum and porter is given in The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many, as well as the Upper Ten Thousand - by an Australian Aristologist (1864) but we learn that by that date there were only a few old hands living at Hobart Town who could recollect the flavour of this celebrated liquor.
 
Aria by Nazanine Hozar.

A novel set in Tehran from 1958 to 1981. It is not brilliant in literary terms but manages evocatively to elucidate the awful effects of misuse of power by empire, corporation, religion and parents.

Whether from a party of Left or Right or God, governments that rule by brutality turn out to be similar in their cruelty and efforts to blind people to their illegitimacy.

A good reminder of why our imperfect democracy is worth preserving. Any other form of government is fairly likely to unleash the sadist on your street.
 
Last edited:
'The Committed' by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a sequel to the author's very good, tragicomic first novel 'The Sympathizer' and equally enjoyable. 'The Sympathizer' starts with three Vietnamese friends at the time of the fall of Saigon dealing with conflicting loyalties and complicated relationships. 'The Committed' follows up on the events that befall the friends as they travel different paths and the narrator reflects on colonialism. The Guardian commented that these are political books masquerading as thrillers; I think that's about right.
 
Not sure if this has been mentioned earlier?
” The spy and the traitor “
true factual account of a soviet agent who single handed brought the Cold War to an end.

For those who remember the gay hussar pub …. Now the noble rot restaurant, I think ?
This was the rendezvous where labour leader Michael Foot met his KGB handler
He supplied the KGB with information for 10 years !!!!!
in a poll before the general election Foot was in the lead to become prime minister ahead of thatchers attempt for a second term.
 
Completely discredited, Ian, an old story without any foundation at all. Foot successfully sued The Times when the allegations were first made but he couldn't sue Gordievsky when he was dead. I suggest you read a little further around the subject, they don't get much shadier than Gordievsky even if you find his fiction enjoyable.
You might enjoy this relevant piece by that well-known leftist Peter Hitchens Was Michael Foot really a KGB Agent? - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog
 
Last edited:
Completely discredited, Ian, an old story without any foundation at all. Foot successfully sued The Times when the allegations were first made but he couldn't sue Gordievsky when he was dead. I suggest you read a little further around the subject, they don't get much shadier than Gordievsky even if you find his fiction enjoyable.
Worth a read Thom.
I think it would be very difficult for him to explain the financial transactions.
 

Tom Cannavan

Administrator
Just finished the second book in the Dublin Trilogy by Caimh McDonnel, The Day That Never Comes. Both have been hugely enjoyable: lots of humour in fairly dark crime/whodunit novels, which would not sound like my cup of tea in theory, but beautifully written and very cleverly told in a rich Irish patois for a lot of the time. Laughed out loud several times, but they are essentially quite dark and gritty.
 
Trying to reread books that we have kept after a huge clear out recently (still more must go says my better half). Currently about halfway through the Culture (Science Fiction) novels by Iain M Banks. What an imagination and way with words he had. Might go back and read his Iain Banks books (non SF) after these. The Wasp Factory made a Hugh impression on me when it was first published.
 
Hurdy Gurdy by Christopher Wilson, a very witty novel about The Black Plague told through the eyes of Brother Diggory, a young monk who is forced to flee his monastery and get to know the world as the world gets to know the pandemic. How The Word Is Passed by Clint Smith is in a completely different category to the previous book. The writer leads the reader on a tour of monuments that offer a story of how slavery has been central in shaping America’s collective history. The honesty or lack thereof of the past presented at these landmarks is revealing
 
Currently about halfway through the Culture (Science Fiction) novels by Iain M Banks.

I was about half way through them when I wanted a change. I should definitely finish them. I love how The Culture feels almost like a utopia at first but then frays around the edges to become a complete dystopia instead.

I'm still into bugs and scifi/fantasy so just started The Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I've read his spider novels Children of Time and Children of Ruin (recommended to me on this forum) and they were about the best uplift scifi I have read - not just because they have spiders in them. The first Apt book also seems really good and has a wider bug theme going on that I really like. It's more fantasy than scifi but at least in the first 100 or so pages manages to avoid most fantasy stereotypes. Very engaging read though it's very early on obviously.
 
The Hitler Conspiracies, by Richard J Evans
Looking at the way conspiracy theories originate and spread, using some of the myths that grew up around the nazis as examples (spoiler - they're all rubbish - or should I say fake news... )
 
The last thing I finished was Harold Pinter's script for No Man's Land. One of his best plays I think and one I've seen a few notable productions of, including a great one at the Almeida about 30 years starring Paul Eddington and the great man himself. The original run in 1975 with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson has always been a thing of legend for me, so I was excited to discover recently that the adaptation of it for Granada TV is currently available in full on YouTube. Gielgud in particular really is mesmerising: in this company I would especially point up his delightfully languid monologue about drinking champagne for breakfast and 'trips to Dijon in the '30s, to taste the wines'.

Currently I'm halfway into The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, a novel about a group of friends during the AIDS epidemic in Chicago and its long aftermath. Absorbing and humane.
Coming late to this, a director told me how as a younger man he had directed Pinter in one of his own. He said the great man was fastidious about letting the cast talk about the play and only occasionally would offer "I think here the writer is trying to say...".
 
Just finished the second book in the Dublin Trilogy by Caimh McDonnel, The Day That Never Comes. Both have been hugely enjoyable: lots of humour in fairly dark crime/whodunit novels, which would not sound like my cup of tea in theory, but beautifully written and very cleverly told in a rich Irish patois for a lot of the time. Laughed out loud several times, but they are essentially quite dark and gritty.
Great fun...I think the trilogy now runs to six books plus several set in America which go way over the top.
 
Top