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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Sunday 28 December 2003

... December 28th ...

Some good looking books coming out in the spring with Faber's list looking particularly strong (again). Up and coming titles from them include David '1974' Peace's new one GB84 (out March) about the Miner's strike, Sarah 'Haweswater' Hall's The Electric Michelangelo (March), Paul Auster's Oracle Night and (excited about this!) Orhan 'My Name Is Red' Pamuk's Snow (Spring). Hamish Hamilton publish the latest meanderings of site favourite Iain Sinclair with his Dining on Stones (Spring) and Little Brown put out Deidre Blair's authoritative biography of Carl Jung (January). I'm also looking forward to seeing Paul Johnson's Art: A New History (Weidenfeld and Nicolson) which is out about now ...
I've mentioned Thomas Hardy in the 'blog' before - I'm hoping to review some books about the big man soon - and tonight on the telly ITV are doing a 2-part 4 hour version of his Mayor of Casterbridge; and on Radio 4 Book At Bedtime is Far From the Madding Crowd, so perhaps Hardy isn't as forgotten as I'd feared. Hopefully both programmes will do the normal trick of setting folk back out on the reading trail and Hardy will reclaim his rightful place among the Eng Lit pantheon!
Saw the ponderous LOR3 film The Return of the King last night. Did nothing for me. It was comic when attempting seriousness, all the dialogue was appalling, there was no real characterisation, the coda was torturously long (as, indeed, was the entire film) and, worst of all for a fantasy, it just wasn't magical. Moments that were decent included Sam's fight with a giant spider which was gloriously Jason and the Argonauts, the raising of the army of the dead, and the first glimpse of some massive prehistoric fighting elephant monsters! But, aside from that, it was dire. I've never read the book. I attempted The Hobbit on two or three occassions and never got past page fifty or so. Rightly or wrongly the film has permanently put me off reading something which, in truth, I've never really fancied anyway ...
The appalling Jim Giraffe was listed in yesterday's Guardian as one to watch for next year. Why!? Might I humbly suggest that reader's only (half)believe reviewers who actually read the damn books they review!
Thinking some more about it ... my Top 10 CDs of the year would be: The Fall's Country on the Click; Postal Service's Give Up; Bed's Spacebox; Behind the Light by Breathless; Nick Cave's Nocturama; Four Tet's Rounds; David Sylvian's Blemish; Robert Wyatt's Cuckooland; and, joint favourites, Bonnie 'Prince' Billie's gorgeous Master and Everyone and Rothko's quite beautiful Wish For a World Without Hurt [].

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
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Under striped canvas the patrons gather,
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