The Friend of the Family by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04fxy8d

BBC description: 4 Extra Debut. Russia, 1859. Chaos in the manor of Stephanchikovo when an ex-sergeant acts as arbiter of morals and taste. Stars David Suchet.

Drink a bottle of vodka and you can talk in any language you like!

Clive Merison and Davis Suchet excel in this written-as-a-play short story.

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The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

 

Description: In this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps–a community devoted exclusively to sickness–as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality. The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, a book that pulses with life in the midst of death.

Total Duration: 2:18:04

Olwen Wymark’s BBC R4 dramatisation, first broadcast 2001:

Paul Schofield (narrator)
Robert Whitelock (Hans Castorp)
Clive Merrison (Settembrini)
Sian Thomas (Clavdia)
Simon Ludders (Joachim)
John Hartley (Dr Behrens)
Norman Rodway (Peeperkorn)
Rhodri Hugh (Naphta)
Richard Elfyn (Dr Krokowski)
Christine Pritchard (Frau Stohr)
Directed by Alison Hindell, with music by Colin Sell

Schatzalp Davos

Not sure what I thought this story was going to be like, however I have come away satisfied. Mann makes the reader perform emotional somersaults, at times this is stanley-blade morose then quickly the mood changes to satire. I really did not like the blizzard scene.

In the bigger picture, this is another way to view the mentality in Europe circa 1914 – how weird! The music.

Overall, from this superb BBC production, I come away with three Hans Castor(p)s

We Will Destroy Your Planet

bookshelves: net-galley, how-to, published-2013, little-green-men, amusing, spring-2014, e-book, ipad, sci-fi, war, weapon-evolution, under-20, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, palate-cleanser

Read from April 08 to 09, 2014


Osprey Publishing

Description: Enjoy this pseudo-nonfiction, ‘how-to’ military handbook for aliens intending to conquer the Earth. Science fiction elements are satirized and then connected to real-world science, history, and military technique to show how it should be done.

It goes without saying that any military campaign must be planned in ways depending upon some basic factors: The logistics of where your enemy is in relation to your own forces, environmental factors, and, most importantly, ‘why’ you’re fighting this campaign. This book intends to take these basic factors, and apply them to the purpose of conquering the planet known to the natives as Earth.

There are, of course, many possible reasons for launching a military campaign against such a planet. The form of your campaign, and the formation of its strategic and tactical policies will very much depend on your reason. Obviously the campaign to destroy all sentient life on a planetary surface will be very different in character to a campaign to, say, bring the local population into the fold of your empire or federation – and, frankly, a lot simpler.

Once the reason for conquest, or destruction, has been determined, the book will take a step-by-step approach to the best way to annihilate humanities resistance and bring them to their knees.

Opening to the introduction: Thank you for choosing planet Earth as your conquest target of choice. The local sentient population has long considered it to be a worthy destination for travellers from other planets, alternate dimensions and future timelines.

Maybe it would be good to refresh on just where this target of choice lies in the Milky Way.

However, if Sitchin is right about Niburu, the solar system really works in quite a different way and that could prove quite an obstinate obstacle to wannabee overlords’ invasion tactics.

[Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.
(hide spoiler)]

I am now convinced that there are hordes gathering on the Dark Side of the Moon ready to start a War of the Worlds

The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, he said (ahh, ahh)
The chances of anything coming from Mars
Are a million to one, but still, they come…

This short book is cram-packed with facts about dimensions, speeds, girths etc. and combined with such an amusing premise I fail to see how it has been so badly overlooked by gift purchasers, powder-room librarians, mums with teenagers.

[

(hide spoiler)]

Sugar for the Horse by H.E. Bates

bookshelves: published-1957, winter-20132014, radio-4x, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, bedfordshire, britain-england, amusing, bucolic-or-pastoral, teh-demon-booze, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, under-10-ratings

Read from January 27 to February 02, 2014

 

Description: H E Bates published two collections of stories in which Uncle Silas reminisces about the pleasures of a long life spent bringing joy to the deserving (mostly himself and the women of Bedfordshire) and confounding the undeserving (authority, mostly). Cowslip wine, poaching and very large pigs loom large, as does fruit: raspberries, gooseberries, apples are all described with a lushness bordering on the erotic. Well, not so much bordering on as indistinguishable from. The recipient of these tales is Silas’s young great-nephew, who moves from innocent faith in the old man’s every word – however outrageous the event described – to a realisation that his escapades are for the most part exaggerations, if not downright inventions. He doesn’t let on, of course: his faith gives way to secret admiration and delight in the endless inventiveness of a master storyteller. Edward Ardizzone’s pen-and-ink illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to the text.

1. The Widder: The incorrigible Uncle Silas heads off to sup wine with a widow. HE Bates’ country tale is read by David Neal.

2. The Blue Feather: Loveable rogue Uncle Silas gets caught poaching.

3. Queenie White: Mischievous Uncle Silas recalls an amorous brush with a buxom publican’s wife.

4. The Singing Pig: The incorrigible Uncle Silas gets nostalgic over a melodic porker.

5. Aunt Tibby: A cunning landlady proves to be as resourceful as the mischievous Uncle Silas.

Trivia about the author, sourced from wiki: During World War II he was commissioned into the RAF solely to write short stories. The Air Ministry realised that the populace was less concerned with facts and figures about the war than it was with reading about those who were fighting it. The stories were originally published in the News Chronicle under the pseudonym of “Flying Officer X”. Later they were published in book form as The Greatest People in the World and Other Stories and How Sleep the Brave and Other Stories.

4* The Darling Buds of May
4* Fair Stood the Wind for France
2* Love for Lydia
3* A Little of What You Fancy
4* My Uncle Silas
4* Sugar for the Horse
3* Country Tales

Any Human Heart

bookshelves: impac-longlist, booker-longlist, fraudio, published-2002, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, spies, historical-fiction, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, art-forms, epistolatory-diary-blog, south-americas, uruguay, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, sport, gr-library, france, paris, oxford, glbt, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, norfolk, teh-brillianz, greece, adventure, cover-love, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, london, madrid, war, wwii, lisbon, portugal, filthy-lucre, nassau, bahamas, switzerland, britain-scotland, iceland, suicide, teh-demon-booze, new-york, germany, picaresque, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, travel, edinburgh, those-autumn-years, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, north-americas, music, midlife-crisis, african-continent, afr-nigeria, skoolzy-stuff, dodgy-narrator, afr-somalia

Read from November 28, 2013 to January 16, 2014

Read by Mike Grady

From the description: The journals begin with Mountstuart’s boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

In the fashion of Zelig, Forrest Gump and the 100 year old man, Mountstuart is in all the right places meeting all the important people, however Any Human Heart is an absolute joy as Boyd’s writing leaves those also-rans in the starting gates.

Purringly enjoyed Logan’s slamming of the Bloomsbury set, that circle of spite who lived in squares and loved in triangles. Not sure about the portrayal of Duke and Duchess and for this reason I support a flawed, dodgy narrator scenario.

And that goodreads product description box – WTF! It is just a review filched over from Amazon book sales, with its inherent bias. Bad News! Check the product description elsewhere.

Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Joan Miró Ferra was a Spanish painter.

From wiki: Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943) was an American-born British Canadian gold mine owner, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He earned his fortune in Canada and in the 1930s moved to the Bahamas for tax purposes, where he was murdered in 1943 in notorious circumstances. The cause of death and the details surrounding it have never been entirely determined, and have been the subject of several books and four films.

Have the TV miniseries to watch at some stage, however, for now, I will mull over the full life of Logan MS – I am in my weeds for you.

4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart – recommended
4* Brazzaville Beach
WL Waiting for Sunrise
3* Armadillo
AB Solo