CHASING DARKNESS by Robert Crais (First published by Orion Books, 2008)
This is the first Robert Crais book I’ve read and to put this into true context I have a fair amount of catching to do. This is number 11 in an ongoing series of novels featuring a LA based private detective Elvis Cole and his reliable yet taciturn sidekick Joe Pike. There are already another five in the series.
Cole is the kind of maverick investigator who will say things like ‘I suppose I should’ve called the cops but I didn’t’. The implicit message is that to get results you need to take risks and ignore conventional methods.
He has enough inside contacts to enjoy the benefits of official resources without the burden of having to play by the rules. When Pike breaks into the home of a suspect, Cole says reassuringly. “Don’t worry. It’s a cop thing” . View full article »
HERE I AM by Jonathan Safran Foer (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)
Wilkie Collins once asserted that “the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story.”
Tell that to the post-modernists!
Jonathan Safran Foer says that “I have yet to write a novel from a plan” and says of his third major fictional work that “there wasn’t any one ‘idea’ but a number of disparate starting points”.
Unfortunately it shows! View full article »
ACADEMY STREET by Mary Costello (Canongate Books, 2014)
Mary Costello’s bold and compassionate debut novel initially gives the impression it will be an uplifting life story of female empowerment.
It begins in the 1940s and is set in Western Ireland. In this time and place we meet Tess, aged 8, immediately after the sudden death of her beloved mother.
The bewilderment and uncertainty this loss produces is brilliantly evoked as is the child’s difficult relationship with her harsh and uncommunicative father.
Surely things can only get better and with Angela’s Ashes in mind you envisage emigration from Ireland to America to be the harbinger of hope and good fortune. View full article »
‘Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?’ This is title of the famous Pop Art collage by English artist Richard Hamilton from 1956.
In it we see a body builder, a fashion model, a portrait of an unidentified Victorian man , a ‘young romance’ magazine cover, a hoover ad, a TV and a reel to reel tape recorder.
Hamilton’s image playfully mocks the way in which the saturation of media imagery influences the way we make our lifestyle choices.
Sixty years on, the satire looks fairly mild and humorous rather than disturbing. The world wide web has changed everything. TV and dumb magazine advertisements are the least of our worries.
Nowadays, with the information overload, our minds have become more nimble but the major drawback of all the online zapping is that we are rapidly becoming less capable of the kind of critical thinking that makes us unique individuals.
Nowadays, by the time kids reach 18 it is estimated that will have seen 500 hours of advertising spots while they will have spent just 5 thousand hours reading books.
Should we be concerned about this? Derrick de Kerckhove a Canadian born professor and disciple of Marshall McLuhan, thinks so.
The statistics about what he calls the “always-on hyperkids of today” are taken from de Kerckhove’s The Augmented Mind (40k, 2011).
In this short but cogently argued book he details how the rapid transformation of the digital world has re-wired our brains and fundamentally altered our behavior. One consequence of this is that “people are gradually delegating their capacity for imagining things on their own to processes that do their imagining for them”. View full article »