One more click!

 

Dear nice person who has stopped by this site,

 

As of today, August 18th, 2013 this blog has moved to its new home on my very own website, bevjoneswriting.co.uk.

 

Please make just one more click here to the new location where my regular ramblings continue unhindered.

 

http://www.blog.bevjoneswriting.co.uk

 

I hope you will join me!

 

Please note, if you are kind enough to be following my blog you will need to click the ‘follow’ tab on the new site to make sure you get a notification of when I write a new post.

 

See you there! 

 

 

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Clunk, click – every trip?

Shhh! What was that noise?

 

I’m humming along on the laptop, metaphorical wind in my hair, hitting a nice steady cruising speed and then there was that noise. I’m not sure but I think it might just have been the sound of my plot gears grinding.

That sound is the one I call ‘The Clunk’. Yes, you know what I mean. It’s that bit when you’re reading a book and you’re brought up short or feel a little invisible wince as, for a second, you hear the book ‘machinery’ going into overdrive.

Look, what an unexpected twist! A startling moment of revelation! What a cliff-hanger!

Clunk, clunk, clunk.

It’s hard for storytellers to entirely avoid the clunk. By definition there have to be some plot devices or elements that drive the story forward, simply to get the intrepid hero/heroine from A to B, creating a sense of peril or surprise before the resolution.

Thankfully, readers have different tolerance levels for clunk. For example, I think Dan Browns novels, The Da Vinci Code particularly, clunk along like my mum’s old Nissan Micra trying to get past 55 in the middle lane but that hasn’t harmed his sales.

Clank, clank, clank.

Even literary masters aren’t immune to engine problems. Look at Thomas Hardy’s novels, especially Tess of the D’Urbervilles and the The Mayor of Casterbridge. They have more clunk than Stephenson’s Rocket (or should that be clank). I have to resist the urge to stick my hands over my ears every time a crucial letter gets accidentally shoved under a doormat and lies unread for ten chapters, a person reappears from someone’s past at a very inconvenient moment or a sailor/soldier rises from the grave. This doesn’t mean the writing is bad or it stops you enjoying the book, you just decide to take it on faith as part and parcel of the ride.

Fingers in ears!

But it’s a dilemma for writers. Plots and characters should act in a way that seems psychologically convincing, shouldn’t they?

During the filming of the classic film The Birds, actress Tippi Hedren famously asked Alfred Hitchcock why the heroine decided to venture into the dark, dusty, cottage attic in the middle of a bird-related siege.

‘Because I need her to,’ Hitch replied. Basically because he knew chucking seagulls at Ms Hedren in a dark room would make a great scene. He ignored the clunk.

This is why storyteller extraordinaire, Stephen King, in his manual ‘On Writing’ says he abhors ‘plot’. He likes to let the characters lead him as he goes along, that way their actions always make internal sense. Doesn’t always work, mind you. Just think of the ending of IT or The Stand!

Rattle and Hum.

So, I‘m at the laptop, writing and re-reading and listening hard for the clunk as I drive along. I think I’ve got the noise down to a quiet little rattle now and maybe that’s the best a writer can hope for. After all, real life isn’t a series of convenient beginnings, middles, exciting bits and ultimate ruin or catharsis. Imposing structure on a story is clunk in itself, and very necessary, otherwise you’d just be writing text books, not novels.

A little clunk will get your book through its reader MOT – how much depends on their hearing and how much they’re enjoying the scenery!

 

Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Mark Billingham’s Rush of Blood – an absorbing and layered thriller about three couples, one Florida Holiday, one dead girl and many red herrings.

‘Listen up’ moment – what was that about a kayak??

 

Sabine Durant’s Under Your Skin.

A twisty thriller with some enjoyable media satire in which TV personality Gaby Mortimer discovers a dead body only to find she becomes a suspect.

‘Listen up’ moment – You touched her bra and you just remembered that now?

 

Tana French’s Broken Harbour.

Atmospheric thriller set in post economic depression Ireland where a young family have been brutally murdered in their home on a ghost estate.

‘Listen up’ moment – Holes in the walls? Mink on the loose? Are you sure?

 

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. A deliciously dark, multi-narrative, domestic nightmare surrounding a missing wife.

‘Listen up’ moment – do you really want to make friends with the sort of people who hang around cheap motels??

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Cowboys, ‘injuns’ and muscle-cars. Or ‘How the West Was Weird.’

Okay, I don’t get Westerns. There, I’ve said it!

Yes, I love classic cinema and ‘appreciate’ the role the biggies like The Searchers and Stagecoach have played in popular culture. But, despite many a Sunday afternoon with my dad in front of How the West Was Won, or Shane I couldn’t get past the be-wigged white actors with their gravy-browning ‘injun’ faces or figure out why monosyllabic men with dubious social skills were supposed to be interesting.

It was all a bit, well, archaic and macho.

For kids of my era forays into the Wild West were more likely to involve Emilio Estevez and Keifer Sutherland, namely ‘The Brat Pack,’ being stroppy to the strains of Jon Bon Jovi’s ‘Shot Doooown, in a Blaze of Glory’ in Young Guns. Or Kevin Costner’s earnest and over-scored (John Barry, please write in a couple of bars of quiet now and again) nostalgia-fest Dances With Wolves.

But I was always fascinated by the wild beauty of the landscapes on show and, as I got old enough to understand it, by the complicated cultural legacy of the colonisation of North America.

 

Go West! (Don’t look down.)

So, a few weeks ago I was finally to be found gazing into the geological abyss of the Grand Canyon for the first time. There’s something elementally terrifying about a billion years of history staring you in the face, even in the tourist trap bits where they charge $6 for an ice-cream and some of the ‘native American’ souvenirs are made in Japan.

(But it is nice to see a common sense approach to the management of this dizzyingly awesome hole in the ground. If it was in the UK there would have to be fences at the edge and a sign every 100 yards saying ‘danger of falling’)

The best time to admire this geological wonder is early in the morning (stupid o clock due to jet lag meant 5.30am). At this time of the day you’re alone in the ancient universe of rock strata and sky and the silence is, well, worrisome. The scale of the spectacle made my head empty of words (weird for a writer, at the best of times). All superlatives soon became meaningless in the face of the rocks and sun and millions of years of forgotten stories.

If those stones could talk they’d have some tales to tell (perhaps of a grumpy Welsh girl five hours into hiking the Bright Angel trail, two hours from the top, repeating the words ‘Dear God, are we there yet?’) Then again, they might just keep it to themselves.

Go West! (look up and ahead!)

Next stop was Monument Valley, the iconic setting for many a John Wayne western. We took a jeep tour and it should have been twee when our guide Larson whipped out his Navajo flute and played a tune under the astonishing sky-hole of the Big Hogan red rock formation that looks like an eagle’s head.

Larson wasn’t twee, though. He was a 20-something Navajo lad with a love of his heritage and a fondness for muscle-cars and Metallica (to his delight Transformers III had been filming in the valley the previous week.) Larson, like Monument Valley seemed to exist between the stories of the Old West and the new. A place where you can stare at petroglyphs of long-horned sheep a 1000 years old, but the jewellery stand owners at John Ford Point all take Visa and Master Card.

These places are rewriting themselves in the 21st century with tourists like me in mind – it’s the new cultural currency – ‘authentic experiences’ plus wi-fi and air-con. I’m not complaining though. I’m still recovering from the sight of sunrise over the mighty red dust mittens and buttes. The West may not be so wild, (and a little weird) but it’s still pretty bloody wonderful.

 

Go West like a Greenhorn? Try my tips for armchair tourists.

Old West

Saddle up for the Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage. Cattle rustling, romance, stand-offs, bad dialogue – it’s a genre classic (but probably not if you’re a Mormon.)

Keep a hankie handy during Bury My heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown’s original epic history of the West from the Native American perspective. Fascinating horrifying and poignant.

 

New West

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt.

Follow the titular assassins as they bicker and brawl in this picaresque take on the Gold Rush. Eli, the younger brother, has a pinch of conscience and a penchant for fallen women. Older brother Charlie is a sociopath with a drink problem. They don’t get on. Laugh-out-loud and wince more than once.

Saint Agnes’ Stand by Thomas Eidson

There’s no quick-draw romanticism in this bleak tale of faith and redemption. Relentlessly grim, it doesn’t shy away from the atrocities committed on a hapless wagon-train while questioning their motives for being there in the first place.

 

Primetime (TV)

If you skipped the gritty, addictive HBO series Deadwood because you don’t ‘do’ westerns you’re an eejit! Stern-browed Timothy Olyphant is Wyatt Earp but it’s Ian McShane who steals the show as foul-mouthed whorehouse owner Al Swearingen (yeah, for those in the UK who recall him as roguish antiques dealer Lovejoy it’s a **** ****ing, revelation!

OR If you like your cowboys more languid try Justified. Timothy Olyphant also puts his long-legged, ten gallon hat-wearing self to easy use as quick-draw Marshall Raylan Givens. It’s cowboys versus rednecks in Kentucky with moonshine, purty ladies and a touch of old-time white supremacism to worry about.

 

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Heroes, villains and the Victorian Underworld!

A heroine in peril.

Have you wondered what horrors lie beneath the suburban streets of Britain? What nasties lurk in the dark while we go about our daily lives? And when they show their evil faces which heroes do we call to save us from their murky blackness? Well, I found out this week as I came back from a run to find water dribbling up through my front path. Not very nice water either, water that, er, smelled of wee…I needed a hero and I needed one fast.

Enter, a hero.

On a dark and stormy afternoon Welsh Water Guy came to my rescue, or tried to. Who knew there were such dark lairs under my house until WWG (Welsh Water Guy) turned up with a long camera on a tube and revealed to me the unseen world beneath. Yeah, we had a blocked pipe. I could see the block in nasty bubbly glory as the camera snaked down beneath our feet, via the manhole, through crazy pipes with more twisted angles and weird drop offs than the rides at Alton Towers.

This was Victorian sewerage at its, well, not best exactly. I don’t think Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the fascinating and elegant London sewage system, would have employed the guys who laid the 15 metres of fun-house piping from the side of my house under my six foot high steps to the street.

So how do you get rid of a block? There’s a big high-pressure hose thing on a pipe that can work wonders if the WWG is willing, and he was, to heroically swish and push and pull to vanquish the demons below.

The villains.

Do you know who the arch-drain villains are? Wet Wipes – arrrgghh! Don’t ever put one down your loo. They act like ‘Velcro’ and never, ever degrade, and trap all your unmentionables in their evil web; and kitchen roll, so strong and absorbent they football-net-catch your toilet items. WWG told me this – and he knows!

Sadly he couldn’t flush the evil monster out, but he had some mates who might help.

Enter, two more heroes.

Dyno-Rod men arrive – da, da daa! Two heroes who we’ll call Dai (Dyno) and Rod (er, Rod, obviously) to protect their secret identities. Dai wiggled his foot on my flagstones where the wee-water had been and said, ‘bet there’s an access there’. He pried up the slab, pulled up a bit of lead capping that had been down there 100+ years poked a plunger in and, voila! – the black terror showed its face, gurgled in its death throes and fled back into its lair (hopefully) never to be seen again.

Dai did the thing with his camera on a tube and said one of my pipes had ‘slipped’ meaning the bore was much smaller than it should be.

‘I won’t be putting any wet wipes down there then,’ I joked. His thousand-yard stare said never, ever joke about the nemesis wet wipes. To ease the tension, and being a writer, I asked Dai if he’d ever found anything interesting in a drain, like fingers, treasure or fighty turtles. Mainly rats, apparently.

Hurrah!

So, thanks to Dai and Co, Casa Bev is once again safe from the wiles of the evil wee-water monster. I mustn’t forget Rod, though, who was a very good sidekick, ‘assisting’ with the camera. He also knew a surprising amount about British wildlife – my hedge is Alder, and is poisonous so I should wear gloves when trimming it. He was also able to name a large number of British birds of prey and native woodpeckers.

So, with water flowing freely into the underworld Dai and Rod sped off to the aid of their next homeowners in peril.

For those of you who’ve read this blog before and know I am partial to sarcasm – let me be clear about this. Anyone who comes to your house and can keep a smile on their face while fighting sewer monsters then leave you with no wee-water where it shouldn’t be and confidence in the musical flushing of your loo is a hero in my book! No kidding.

Thanks WWG, Dai and Rod, wherever you are tonight!

*****

Don’t need Dyno-Rod? Adventure underground and keep your feet dry with:

Stephen King’s It. Yep, ’We all float down here!’ That Pennywise the Clown gets everywhere. Didn’t that kid’s mom tell him not to stick his arm down storm drains?

The Fugitive movie – if you live near a big dam in America there’s a fair chance Harrison Ford, aka Richard Kimble, might be doing his uniquely ‘awkward running’ under your house. ‘Don’t slip!’

The Third Man movie (Graham Greene and Orson Welles). It’s a stone- cold classic and the Harry Lime chase through Vienna’s sewers is pure cinema art-scape. Bleak, whimsical, creepy and no happy ending!

The Great Stink (novel), Clare Clark. It’s 1858 and the sewers of Victorian London smell so bad ladies are fainting and parliament is shut; even worse, dead bodies are bobbing up, left right and centre. (Based on the actual summer stink that led to Bazalgette’s wondrous sewer system being installed.)

Every season of fab US TV series Supernatural – evil stuff comes up through sinks and baths all the time in this show and people get whisked into the depths. Keep the plug in in case Sam and Dean, the demon-hunting, ghost-busting catalogue models are out of town!

Creep, the movie starring Franka Potente – okay, it’s not technically set in the sewers but in the London Underground. Locked in at a deserted station at night Franke soon realises she’s not alone…nasty and, er, creepy…

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‘Here be monsters’ or The intrepid escapades of adventurous Bev.

I was in London the other day. It doesn’t happen often so I thought I’d make the most of it. What do most people do when they go to London? Go shopping, of course!

I however, was standing in the queue outside The Natural History Museum, staring up at the breath-taking Victorian Gothic building replete with gargoyles. As the dark clouds scudded overhead the thought suddenly came to me – Here be monsters! I had an odd feeling, a shiver that had nothing to do with the breeze, my chest was a bit fluttery (not just because of two coffees.)

It took me a second to realise what it was – I was excited! Yes, proper-old-fashioned excited. Why? Cos I was going to see dinosaurs, real, live (well, dead – being the skeletons of) monsters. I was sans small child but that didn’t stop me. Bobbing about from one foot to the other, silly smile on my face, I shuffled into the darkened exhibition hall with the primary school groups. (I highly recommend it, except, if you’re a gent, prepare to get some funny looks instead of some poignant ‘childless lady’ smiles)

It was fab – there was a giant triceratops and a tyrannosaur and a diplodocus: just the sight of their looming thigh bones and snappy teeth sent a seven-year-old shiver of delight through me. They even had a mechanical T-rex that moved in an incredibly convincing way, pawing and chewing, rolling its eyes and then roaring – Shriek!

As adults it’s easy to become unimpressed by the things we used to love. But I can tell you there’s no better way to connect with your inner child than in a dark room with dinosaur bones and creepy sound effects.

Spurred on I went next door to the V and A and looked at the medieval objects, bibles and triptychs and paintings and the displays of armour and weapons and authentic clothes that looked for all the world like stage costumes – especially the teeny tiny little doll shoes. After a long hiatus my schoolgirl fascination with history was smacking me in the face again, in front of the triptych martyrdom of an obscure saint and a whopping big broadsword!

Never a ‘ponies’ and ‘flower fairies’ kind of girl I was into history and adventure when I was a kid, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, pulp versions and classics, full of plucky explorers, fortune hunting cabin boys, wronged knights and disguised princesses on quests.

It’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of a good old swashbuckler or action romance when we’re all sophisticated and adult. But this week I’ve dug out my Robert Louis Stevenson and old videos of Robin of Sherwood and had a fab week re-adventuring with pirates, outlaws and gentleman explorers.

So here’re some suggestions to get you re-discovering your kid-kicks in adult disguises. Go on, read one right now, or I’ll tell your mum you kicked me in the shin and stole my packed lunch!

 

Walking with dinosaurs? – Jurassic Park, of course!

Forget the movie, the original novel by Michael Crichton has much sharper teeth and an adult undertone while still packing on lots of oohs and aahs, before the running and the screaming…

 

‘Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk…’

It’s got to be JM Faulkner’s smuggling adventure Moonfleet, technically the YA cross-over of its day. Darker than it’s big daddy Treasure Island but with enough shipwrecks and swash to buckle your land lubber legs.

 

Ooh, something for the laydees!

Pull up your carriage at Jamaica Inn – Daphne Du Maurier was drinking deep of the cup of Gothic melodrama (or something stronger!) when she wrote this unashamedly old-fashioned bodice ripper. Plucky heroine Mary Yellan is at the mercy of the blackguard cutthroats at the last place on Bodmin Moor you’d want to stop for a quiet pint.

 

He who sets his foot  upon the path of vengeance, first dig two graves!

Murder, torture, revenge, prisons, pirates, conspiracies, corruption, the occult, sex, and devil worship! It’s got to be The Count of Monte Cristo. Banish all thoughts of ‘one for all, and all for one’ high jinx in Dumas’s other novel. This one outraged the society of the day. Strictly for grown ups.

 

What larks boys!

Duellist, lover, coward, cad and hero! Says it all really. It’s Flashman in The Flashman Papers by George Macdonald Fraser. Tom Brown’s old nemesis dives head first into the Napoleon era and what tremendous fun it is! Countries will fall, bosoms will heave, readers will chortle!

 

Come on then, tell me which books excite the big kid in you – quickly though, I’ve got to be in for my tea soon.  

 

 

 

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Run that by me again…? Or… Wobble, My Brain, the reader said!

This week you might have seen me on Twitter recommending an indie horror movie called Pontypool (based loosely on the book Pontypool Changes Everything, by Tony Burgess) . No, it’s nothing to do with the Welsh town. This Pontypool is in Ontario and is the site of a strange viral outbreak that turns the residents into slavering, blabbering, murderous, er, zombies.

Yes, it’s a zombie flick, sort of. Except the key here is that it’s language itself that’s become infected, passed on through speech. The film has the best tag-line ever ‘Shut up – or die!’, a difficult option when the story centres around radio ‘shock jock’ Grant Mazzy who hosts Pontypool’s breakfast show.

On a cold, dark, winter morning reports start coming in of strange assaults and riots breaking out. They, and we, can’t see what’s going on, only hear it and repeat it, and broadcast the news of it, hence the virus spreads.

Clearly the film is about more than the obvious ‘radio station under siege’ setup. It’s a satire of ‘talk radio’ and the media age, its ability to literally spread panic as well as to inform. It’s about the nature of meaning and how it can be lost through repetition and juxtaposition. Er, and it’s a metaphor for unthinking mass hysteria – I mean, I think it is.

Probably. Who knows, really? It’s cracking fun though and will mess with your head.

Do you have to understand everything about a movie or a book to enjoy it? Probably not.

There can be something enjoyably unnerving about that sense of being a bit ‘all at sea’ with the grey matter wobbling in your head like an alarmed jelly fish. You might ask yourself what was the author on when they wrote this? Or, more commonly, I don’t get it! Am I just a bit thick?

In this spirit here’s a quick guide to books I ‘enjoyed’ but have no idea what they were about. Books with that dreamlike, incoherent logic that make you think someone might have slipped something hallucinogenic in your tea.

 

Anything by Haruki Murakami

I’ve often wondered if books in translation read in an odd way because they were written like that or if there really is something ‘lost in translation’. I was still gripped by the trippy, compelling language of Kafka on the Shore. There’s a boy and a weird stone in the woods that has a bizarre effect on some school kids, and jazz and a quest.

I think…

Brain-wobble rating 3/5

 

Roberto Bolano2666

There’s a missing lecturer, and some other lecturers are trying to find him, and some nasty murders – in the way only South American murders can be nasty – and some washing blowing on a line that is symbolic of loss, as the lecturers’ search for meaning is futile, like the futility of violence.

Probably…

Brain wobble rating 4/5

 

Anything by Philip K Dick.

The daddy of modern sci-fi was obsessed with parallel or alternative realities. In Flow, My Tears, The Policeman Said, (even the title is a bit bonkers) Jason Tavener is a famous TV personality. One day he wakes up to find all records of his existence erased and he’s a wanted man in a police state. Is Jason going insane? Is there a conspiracy against him? Does it matter? Life’s an illusion anyway isn’t it? Like the illusion of fame and the cult of celebrity…er..

Most likely…

Brain-wobble rating 5/5

 

Mikhail Bulgakov The Master and Margarita

Banned for decades, it’s an allegory of the dangers of communism, no, Bolshevism, no atheism… wait…it’s about a dark ‘master’ magician, possibly the devil, well it might be because Jesus is in it too, in flashbacks, and there’s a cat that’s a woman…

Possibly

Brain-wobble rating 3/5

 

Never mind, rest your weary, wobbly brain matter and look at what the reviewers have said about these classics.

The Village Voice said of Flow, My Tears, ‘Dick was many authors; a poor man’s Pynchon, an oracular post modern, a rich product of the changing counter culture…’

Of 2666 The Financial Times said ‘the arcane allusiveness of Pynchon…the acute yet stylised noir of David Lynch…yet ultimately the books most significant forebear may be Moby Dick, that symphonic masterpiece..’

Hee, hee! They didn’t have a clue what they were about either!

 

Now we can all feel better about feeling like a stupid, wobbly invertebrate-head!

 

*Note: The wobbly jellyfish rating may or may not be imbued with additional symbolism as a nod to the ‘zombie’ genre’s obsession with brain-eating and Pontypool’s ‘brain’ bug. It could just be a lazy simile/metaphor. I’m not telling. 

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New Year, New You? OR Try it, You Might Like It!

Well, it’s February already and, chances are, if you made any New Year’s self-improvement resolutions, you’ve probably broken them by now.

Vowed to give up alcohol? Oh dear, how did that bottle of Merlot sneak it’s way down my throat last Friday night? Promised to go to the gym three times a week? But there’s been snow and everything and it’s so cooold! Absolutely no more fags? Yeah, that quick puff while you walked the dog does count!

Never mind, we’re all weak willed humans, but thanks to Amazon and e-readers, if you want to embrace the spirit of the ‘New Year, New You’  ethos you can do it without leaving the settee let alone the house!

As the shiny promise of a new year glitters ahead I think we can all be guilty of reading laziness, sticking to the same old genres because they’re comfy and snugly. So why not break away from the familiar and expand your reading scope? It still counts as ‘New Year’ self improvement and is much easier to stick to than taking up marathon running, mastering Japanese cooking or learning to speak Spanish!)

So here’s my 2013 Try It, You Might Like It list.

 

I’m no geek! Can’t stomach Sci –fi?

Try an ultimate classic like Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. No, I’m not kidding. It’s set on Mars, yes, but it reads more like a frontier history looking at the way the colonisation affects the earth and the planet which may or may not contain intelligent life. And it’s beautifully written (just don’t be tempted to watch the Rock Hudson-starring 1970s adaptation instead, it’ll put you off sci-fi forever!)

Or be right up to date and pick up Ian McDonald’s Brasyl or River of Gods. These are ‘near future’ recognisable versions of cyber/punk earth with mysteries wrapped around them. But Macdonald excels in creating a sense of place so ‘real’ and vivid you can smell, taste and feel the locations, namely Brasyl/Rio and ‘India’ which are as much characters in the books as the humans.

 

Whodunnit? Who cares? Don’t do detectives?

You’re missing out if you’ve never tried Kate Atkinson. Her first Inspector Brodie novel Case Histories was never intended to be part of a series but when you read it you’ll see why they’re now so eagerly anticipated. This is detecting of superior literary quality, usually with a cast of intriguing characters and converging plot strands that read like ‘contemporary’ fiction than a ‘procedural’. (And it’s a pretty good BBC Series now with Jason Isaacs)

 

I object, your honour! Don’t like legal eagles?

Try Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent. It’s an 1980s bestseller for good reason, made into a faithful film adaptation, with remarkably little silly courtroom shenanigans. If you can ignore the dubious 80s sexual politics Harrison Ford is the lawyer who finds himself in hot water when his mistress is found murdered and the clues point to him. But read the book first and exercise your investigative brain cells!

 

Bleurggh! Brains! Don’t do zombies?

 Max Brook’s World War Z might make you want to get ‘prepping’ and stocking up on bottled water and loo roll! This ‘Oral History of the Zombie War’ is going to be a film this summer starring Brad Pitt. (Though how anyone can take him seriously after that Chanel Advert is anyone’s guess!)  Unlike other zombie-fests this is a collection of ‘first person’ accounts, a retrospective history of the zombie apocalypse through different ‘reportage’ styles. It considers the social/political/economic implications of a global disaster, the various government responses, interspersed with the more personal accounts.

 

I don’t get it! Don’t do humour?

Try David Mitchell’s Starter for Ten. This is much better than his more famous chick fest One Day telling the story of a working class boy in the 90s who really, REALLY wants to be on University Challenge. The film version with James McEvoy, though not quite as funny and cringe-inducing as the book, is really good too – if only to see Benedict Sherlock Cumberband losing his rag as the worlds poshest, prissiest team captain.

 

Pah, pink and fluffy! Don’t like ‘lady’ fiction?

Try Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride or Anita Shreve’s Weight of Water. There’s nothing ‘girly’ about these dark tales of betrayal, love, friendship, sex, death, history, myth making and obsession. (Come on now ladies, play nice!)

 

Yawn? Thrillers?

Raise your pulse with Dennis Lehane’s noirish Shutter Island. Hard boiled and atmospheric,  all is not what it seems at a creepy psychiatric hospital on an island in Boston harbour. (The movie with Leonardo Di Caprio is pretty good too, except for the intrusive, portentous music!).

Or don’t doze off to SJ Watson’sBefore I Go to Sleep. Christine wakes every day with no memory of her life before that moment – so it’s a good job her loving husband is on hand to fill in the blanks, isn’t it?

 

Or go crazy and try one of my psychological/crimey mysteries, Telling Stories  http://amzn.to/Pesgrl or Holiday Money! http://amzn.to/UkkscV Read the reviews on Amazon for yourself!😉

 

Try them all, you might like them! (and feel a lovely ‘New Year’ smugness  in the process!)

 

By the way, I don’t ‘do’ fantasy and supernatural stuff – in the spirit of Try It, You Might Like It, please feel free to give me your recommendations! 

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