bookmark_borderThe Black Album by Hanif Kureishi

Part of me thinks I’ve read The Buddha of Suburbia, part of me doubts it very much, and a quiet part of me, which knows better, points out that it was probably White Teeth by Zadie Smith or the unending London Fields by Martin Amis. The comparison is all I’m looking for which is particularly unfair as I thoroughly enjoyed this book, far more than London Fields (still to be finished after several years) and White Teeth both of which feel a little exclusionary to those not ‘blessed’ enough to live near the capital of England.

The Black Album is the story of a somewhat naive and trusting soul who embarks, unwittingly, on a journey of discovery in which it comes to light that, of all the characters presented here, he is perhaps the best balanced and most well reasoned, if not the most rounded.

He is a young British Asian, taken in to a Muslim group whilst simultaneously embarking on an affair with an older married woman. He learns the ways of both worlds, of sex and debauchery, of fastidious religion and fanatical shortsightedness, all of which adds up to … well that’s the thing, I’m not entirely sure but so much the better to be honest.

The book covers many moral and semi-religious themes, from the bettering of oneself, the abandonment of morals and finally to the integrity of man. Large themes, yes, but all presented in an easy manner, sweeping you along as the story progresses. It’s a rich world this, veering from run down council estates and squalid student accomodation to the upper reaches of English society. Whilst perhaps a little too obvious in direction, the journey is enthralling and after a slow burn beginning you are soon turning pages, delaying dinner and generally grasping each moment you can to get to the next page, then the one after.

The Black Album

bookmark_borderBook Count

Well it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve only got 38 books that I’ve not read.

Mind you another one – The American Boy – should arrive today, then there’ll be Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I’m sure I’ll pick up some more on Saturday when I drop off some old books at the local Oxfam (around 40 of them going, wonder how many I’ll bring back with me).

Ohh and I’m currently, still, reading London Fields, and the Black Echo, and have a couple of books on loan from my Dad. Is it any wonder I don’t get around to practising on my keyboard more often?!

bookmark_borderRead in Spain

I’m trying to keep track of the books I read this year, just to see.. er.. how many I read or something.

Anyway, I started the year with three books on the go – Lazy Ways to Make a Living, London Fields, and Snow Falling on Cedars.

Despite that I read the following whilst on holiday:
Chasing the Dime – Fairly standard ‘everyman’ thriller with the worst opening chapter I’ve stumbled through. Suspension of disbelief beyond the call of duty.
Just One Look – good stuff from the ever reliable Harlan Coben. Another ‘every(wo)man’ thriller but a keeper.
Notes on a Scandal – recommended to me and an excellent read. Funny, moving and acerbic.
Astonishing Splashes of Colour – another recommendation and a very moving book. I could relate, to a point, to some of the aspects of the main character. Poignant but not sad or morose.

bookmark_borderThings wot I have been done

Celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary with a meal at a Mongolian banquet.
Installed dishwasher (a present from Mum and Dad from my Dad’s retiral money).
Got very drunk three four times.
Had NO hangovers three mornings after (alas the fourth one did materialise).
Got new mobile phone. Had problems with new phone. Got new phone fixed (just about anyhoo).
Started work on the new fireplace in the living room.
Finished the Da Vinci Code, London Fields and some others… Yes I read some books.
Sent off my Tax Return.
Took some photos (!).
Started planning a camping holiday in France for next year.
Installed and played with WordPress.
And a myriad of other little things which brought me joy but don’t need reported here (long walks, time with family etc etc).

Site news: comment boxes should now be wider, and I’ll look at the left margin but it took me ages to get this layout cracked (content appears first) and I don’t wanna break anything. More random photos will be added as I start snapping with my camera phone.

And thanks for the comments. I DID have a good break thanks, and yeah it is kinda nice to be “back”. Now if I can just get the ole blogging engine fired up again we should be all set.


Da Vinci Code – Mona Lisa ~ Munch stolen.

And I’ve just had the following books delivered:
London Fields – Martin Amis ~ Murders in Twickenham (friends live there).
Leaving Home – Garrison Keillor ~ Laura flies out to Australia today.
Labyrinths – Jorge Luis Borges ~ Emmmm… not sure yet, but it must mean something…

Funny old world. Ain’t it.