I’ve been enjoying a bit of a China Mieville binge recently. I re-read The City & The City in anticipation for the upcoming BBC TV adaptation, bought Perdido Street Station and Iron Council (more below), and was watching a ton of Mieville talks online. Thought I’d catch up on one of the New Weird author’s recent releases The Last Days of New Paris. Absolutely loved this!
You can read my proper review here.
Also, thanks to some birthday book vouchers I finally bought the other two Bas-Lag novels Perdido Street Station and Iron Council. I had read the middle installment of this loose trilogy The Scar a few years ago but wish to read the whole series sequentially now. However, as these three tomes combined amount to some 2000+ pages I’m pretty sure it’s going to take me a while to get through these. Potential summer holiday reads.
One of my goals this year was to read more non-fiction, including more music criticism books that are not straight forward artist biographies. In that spirit I bought two titles by two Simons: Reynolds’ Shock & Awe and Goddard’s Ziggyology.
Absolutely loved Shock & Awe, which gives a brilliant insight into the rise of glam, exploring how and why artists such as Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Alice Cooper et al injected colourful theatricality and a sense of outrageousness into the drab socio-political landscape of the early 70s. While this book does give a thorough timeline of the artists and albums that helped shape the glitter rock movement, there is so much in here besides the music. Reynolds does an excellent job of providing a motley framework of references that informed glam rock, touching on everything from dandyism, gender politics, to the concept of glamour as defined back in the 19th century.
While Ziggyology may be more narrowly focused it seems to offer up a similarly wide spectrum on its subject matter. It’s described as being a “work of supreme pop archaeology … unearths every influence that brought Ziggy to life – from HG Wells to Holst, Kabuki to Kubrick, and Elvis to Iggy. Ziggyology documents the epic drama of the Starman’s short but eventful time on Planet Earth… and why Bowie eventually had to kill him.” Look forward to diving into this one soon.
This was a brilliant birthday gift from my wife. I’ve been wanting to learn more about WWII and the Holocaust for some time. Given the sheer amount of literature and documentaries available on the subject, I’ve never really known where to begin. However, this book seems to offer a comprehensive introduction into how and why the Holocaust happened, which brings to light many previously unpublished first-hand testimonies, and explores the anti-Semitism of popular German literature of the 19th century to Hitler’s suicide and the surrender of his regime. And apparently author Laurence Rees spent some 25 years researching/writing this single volume account. I am quite certain this book is going to leave me in quite a despondent fog. So I want to be in the right frame of mind when I start this. But hoping to get to this historical tome soon.
More birthday presents! These three were a lovely surprise from a good friend. I’m always a sucker for collectible covers, so I naturally love these bold, colourful covers. Must confess I do not know much about Roberto Bolaño or his work. These three are quite shortish novels, no more than 200 pages each, so they’d be perfect to pick up one lazy weekend afternoon and read through in one sitting. Particularly piqued by Amulet which is described as being a feverish first-person account of a woman trapped in a university lavatory for twelve days … “filled with wild, dark literary prophecies, heroic poets, mad poets …” Sounds like the sort of writing I usually enjoy.
What are your March book haul highlights?
Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
Let us know in the comments section below.