The Orpheus Industry

By Jennie Kermode

Rating: 4 stars

In a world where the Greek gods are real and walk amongst us, it’s dangerous to be noticed. Musician Oscar gets noticed and has to figure out how to survive when he ends up having Persephone fall for him and working for Apollo’s record label.

This is a fun and sexy book. Oscar is an engaging protagonist and his constant craving for Irn Bru and chips n’ curry sauce keeps the story grounded, despite the casual presence of gods and monsters. Speaking of gods and monsters, it’s definitely handy to keep a Greek mythology (or at least Wikipedia) nearby as a reference as not all those mentioned are household names.

The casual approach to sexuality, (hetero- and homo-) is a nice, and a subtle suggestion on how things might have been different if the major monotheistic religions had never gained their grip on the world.

Book details

ISBN: 9781554041756
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Year of publication: 2004

Nicholas Parsons: With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy

By Nicholas Parsons

Rating: 3 stars

Nicholas Parsons has had a pretty varied career, which he discusses in this memoir, from his early work while working as an apprentice in an engineering company in Glasgow, right up to his recent shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s a fun memoir, and Parsons rarely has a bad word to say about any of the many personalities that he’s worked with over the years. The worst he usually says is that A wasn’t quite as imaginative or fun as B.

I mostly know Parsons from his work on Just a Minute and there’s a whole chapter devoted to that, how it came about and reminiscences about players, present and past. He’s also done a lot of theatre and television work and is at pains to stress the degree of variety in his career, presumably to people who only know him from Just a Minute or Sale of the Century.

An enjoyably light read, that makes me curious to try and catch his Edinburgh Fringe show, but not one if you’re looking for salacious showbiz gossip.

Book details

ISBN: 9781845967123
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
Year of publication: 1994

Have Space Suit-Will Travel

By Robert A. Heinlein

Rating: 3 stars

Clifford Russell wins a spacesuit in a competition (although he was actually aiming for a trip to the moon). He fixes it up, takes care of it, and eventually decides to sell it to pay for college. He takes it out for one last spin, accidentally gets kidnapped by aliens and eventually ends up pleading for the future of the Human race in an inter-galactic court.

I enjoyed the actual story in this book, Clifford’s tale of inter-stellar derring do, but this kept being interrupted by Heinlien’s politics, which are very near the surface in this book. The whole idea of the ├╝ber-competent hero who’s self-taught in everything from Latin to electronics, and despises the state education system leaves me cold. Also, while I can usually ignore attitudes to women in older books, it was harder to do here, although I’m not sure if that’s because I was already prone to finding faults.

So the story would get four stars, the politics two, so I’ll average it out with three.

Book details

ISBN: 0450038548
Publisher: New English Library
Year of publication: 1958


By Roberto Calasso, Tim Parks

Rating: 3 stars

This book is going to be difficult for me to review because it’s not what I was expecting or wanting. I was hoping for a book that would take me through some of the stories of Hindu mythology, an area in which my knowledge is woefully inadequate, being limited to hazy childhood memories. However, it turned out to be more a setting out of some of the principles of Hindu philosophy, using some of the stories to hang that on to. This is a noble aim in itself, but it’s not what I was looking for.

Taking the book in its own right then, there’s a lot of dense material here. Often you’ll find a short story or parable from one of the ancient texts, and then a large amount of philosophy hung off the back of that. I must confess that I did struggle a lot with that, and a lot went sailing over my head. Difficult, dense, but probably rewarding, if you were willing to put more effort into it than I was.

Book details

ISBN: 9780099750710
Publisher: Random House
Year of publication: 1996

Men at Arms (Discworld, #15)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 5 stars

The City Watch of Ankh-Morpork has just twenty-four hours to deal with mystery assassinations in the city and minority representation in the Watch.

This was one of the first Discworld books that I ever read and it remains one of my favourite. Full of wonderful language, characters that you grow to care about and the humour that made Pratchett’s name, I highly recommend this book.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552140287
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 1993

Batman: Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

By Neil Gaiman

Rating: 4 stars

This is an odd little story which tells of the death, or rather deaths, of Batman, in the words of his closest friends and enemies. Gaiman manages to include a mystery and some mysticism into his tight script and the art matches it well. Short and pretty sweet, this is definitely worth a read.

It also comes with some original sketches for the story and some short pieces set in the Batman universe in which the Caped Crusader himself only tangentially appears.

Book details

ISBN: 9781848563926
Publisher: Titan Publishing Company
Year of publication: 2009

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