Thursday, May 19, 2011

Old Tom Cat



I've been reading John Irvin's "Last Night in Twisted River". Bloody hell, what an absolute monster of a book. I don't seem to be able to finish it, and it's not for the want of trying. For the last 4 nights I have been convinced that there is only about 20 minutes worth left, but it just goes on and on: like driving down the M50 at midnight, after a Blues defeat, the this trip doesn't seem to have an end. Frankly, I am getting a bit pissed off with.

It's actually a good book, and it comes as no surprise that an Irving book is lengthy, but maybe his reputation is so great that no editor will touch it. Maybe it is a masterpiece and I am too dull to get it. If you like Irvin, you might like this. I hadn't read any of his for years and this came as a pleasant surprise. Until I lost patience it was immensely readable, populated with pretty recognisable, oddball, if not particularly likeable Irvin characters. It covers a huge sweep of history as it follows a father and son across states and decades, as they attempt to escape the murderous intentions of a crooked cop, and it has quite a lot of fairly profound stuff to say about the nature of families, and relationships, and love, and minor mistakes, and huge errors of judgement. Maybe it is the great American novel. There is no danger of me giving the end away, as I doubt I'll ever get to it.

For light relief, I have been dipping in and out of Shotgun Honey, and I recommend you do to.

Neither long, rambling novels, nor short sharp pulp is quite taking my mind off the Blues though. Now that I've calmed my mind, I'm really enjoying it. What a fantastic end to the season. We could have something riding on it until the last kick of the season. If we stay up it will be brilliant, if we go down, well, we've all got used to the idea by now. Last year everything just petered pointlessly out, Mcleish didn't even enliven proceedings by giving youngsters or fringe players a bit of experience. I'd much rather be enduring all this uncertainty. The close season is long enough, without it starting early because there is nothing to play for. Roll on Sunday.

There is actually a really positive side effect to the uncertainty; it has put a stop to all the endless posts on message boards advising that we should sign some lower league nonentity because he has just managed to pass a ball accurately in a play off game.

I've been hearing, and reading, rather a lot about David Brooks this week. I had never heard of him before but he turns out to be a celebrated right wing commentator at the New York Times, and he has written a book called "The Social Animal" which, apparently, is much beloved by tory brainboxes like Michael Gove.  It has had a fairly uncritical reaction so far (although it gets a right good kicking in the article I linked), it will be interesting to see how, or if, reaction changes as more people read it.

Just noting the blurb about Brooks book, it reminds me a bit of Martin Seligman, godfather of positive psychology. His new book seems to be getting panned left right and centre, but I find the book that made his name "Authentic Happiness" is invaluable, although it is much mocked. Reading the book won't make you happy, but I genuinely found that utilising just some of the techniques he advises changed peoples perception of me completely and some aspects of my life improved dramatically. It all looks like quackery, but, even though Brooks appears to be a right wing nutter, I won't dismiss him yet.
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