Hospital - Toby Litt
About Pets: The Gerbil
Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes - Marcus Greil
The Room of Lost Things - Stella Duffy
Peggy Seeger, Blackheath Halls
Dar Williams, Borderline
The Decemberists, Coronet
Films seen at the cinema:
Amelia, Odeon Greenwich
Taking Woodstock, Empire Leicester Square
Both Hospital and The Room of Lost Things are a style of novel I like and admire very much: omniscient view of a group of loosely-connected characters (patients and staff in Hospital, staff and clientele of a South London dry cleaner's in Lost Things).
I've been reading Toby Litt since his first book was remaindered and I think he's a brilliant author, but I don't like all his offerings enough to hang on to them. Hospital is a keeper, warm and funny despite the often surreal and sometimes horrific goings-on.
callmemadam passed the Stella Duffy on to me thinking I'd like it, and she was right. It's set in my South London: Hilly Fields, the Brixton Academy, halal grocers, mad black guys who preach on double-decker buses.
The bits of Invisible Republic that were actually about the Basement Tapes didn't grab me all that much. Perhaps because I'm not that familiar with the source material; perhaps because, just maybe, 'Clothes Line (Answer To Ode)' was just a parody of an annoying popular hit and doesn't require several pages of analysis. The stuff about American folk pre-Dylan, Dock Boggs and Harry Smith, was much more interesting.
I picked up The Gerbil from the clearance shelf in Borders thinking I might learn something, and I certainly did. Gerbil technology has moved on apace since my childhood: I was interested to learn there's a colour called 'Dark-Eyed Honey', which sounds like something you'd see written in a Soho window, and the book went into much more detail on gerbil reproduction than the one I had when I was little (i.e. it used words like 'penetrate' and 'ejaculate').