Wrapped Up In Books

My musings on what I've read since January 2006.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Oh sod it, this isn't happening is it?

I'm off for an indefinite hiatus. Thanks for reading. I love you all!

Still on Flickr, Facebook, email and (occasionally) the real world.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anno Dracula – Kim Newman

This terrifically enjoyable mash-up of vampire tale, the ripper murders and a whole lot more besides sees Count Dracula, having defeated Van Helsing, reigning over the Empire as Prince Consort to Victoria. The undead are increasingly ubiquitous, and turning to the dark side is a route to social success. In a witty touch, we know from the start that, rather than the obvious option of the ripper being a bloodsucker, the murderer is actually a vampire slayer seeking revenge for past wrongs.

Much of the fun stems from the rampant references to both fictional and historical figures who pop up and effect the action. What fun to have Henry Wilcox from Howard’s End rub up alongside Dr Jekyll, Mycroft Holmes, Lenin and Joseph Merrick.

There are sequels. There will be blood.

The Sixteen Satires - Juvenal

I confess I was often hopelessly lost in the blizzard of classical allusion contained in these outrageous Roman polemics against the rich, the poor, the powerful, the powerless and (particularly) women. One has to be impressed by the sheer energetic bravado of much of it, though.

An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge and other stories – Ambrose Bierce

The title story is a blinder, although I already know the twist from the pop video embedded below. The rest are less chilling, but one or two elicit a frisson.

Runaway Dream: Born To Run and Bruce Springsteen’s American Vision – Louis P. Masur

The stuff about how the album was put together and how each individual song developed is revelatory; the broader cultural and autobiographical stuff, not so much. Still, I’ll have nerdy trivia to think about next time I hear the horn section on Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.

Mary Queen of Scots – Antonia Fraser

I really needed to learn more about this period of history, and this book has alleviated much of my ignorance. Mary was queen of France, you say? Who knew?

Unfortunately, Fraser somewhat over-identifies with her subject (I nearly wrote “heroine”), raising questions in my mind about the extent to which her judgement can be trusted. This is proper history, though, weighing up the evidence and at least attempting to justify each call.

My copy was a bit shoddy, with a fair few typos and horrid paper quality. Surprising from Faber & Faber.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Went the Day Well? – Penelope Houston

Went the Day Well? is a cracking little movie made in 1942 about a sneaky gang of Nazis parachuting into rural England disguised as Brits, only for them to be ousted by the plucky locals. It’s a fascinating mixture of understated brutality and whimsy, and Houston’s book provides interesting historical context and some shot-by-shot analysis.