Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recent Distractions

Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three
And Another Thing
By Eoin Colfer

This book will probably be totally incomprehensible if you haven't read the other parts of the trilogy. But if you're familiar with Douglas Adam's super-galactic fantasies, you'll meet well-known friends and gain some insights into the Vogonic psychology. The plot is somewhat of a stretch and serves mostly to accommodate the Hitchhiker Guide's explanations of other species and their bizarre habits, but you can be sure to have one or the other good laugh. It makes a nice and entertaining read, but is mostly for fans.

The Secret History
By Donna Tartt

An extremely well written book with carefully worked out characters. Unfortunately, it takes like 150 pages for anything to happen. Then when finally something happens, you already know what will happen. And the second half of the book everybody is walking around, drinking too much, with a bad consciousness about what happened. Since I have no particular interest in Greek grammar or mythology I found some parts of the book quite cumbersome to read. Taken together, I'm all willing to recognize it as a masterfully composed book, but the plot didn't enthrall me.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
By Stieg Larsson

Is an excellent crime story set in Sweden, so I felt it was a must-read for me. The plot has many unexpected twists, new evidence showing up, never gets too obvious, and never gets too implausible. The characters are interesting though they remain a bit flat. The book was converted to a movie (which I didn't see) and has two sequels (which I haven't read). Totally recommendable as a holiday read.

Merde Happens
By Stephen Clarke

Is the kind of book you buy in an airport shop and that's exactly where I bought it. An amusing story about a British guy with a French girlfriend who has to go on a road trip through the USA promoting tourism to his home country. Plays nicely with clichees. Not a particularly deep story and not a plot that makes a lot of sense, but entertaining.

Elchtest: Ein Jahr in Bullerb├╝
By Gunnar Herrmann

Is the story of a German moving to Stockholm with his wife. The plot can be exhaustively described as they buy a house. I guess you have to be a German who lives or has lived in Sweden to appreciate the book. It's very on spot with the German-Swedish differences. I don't think it comes in an English translation though.


  1. just re-read 'Enigma'this week - couldn't get over how good it was. Thought Larsen's book over-rated
    regards, Cormac

  2. Haven't read any ratings of Larsen's book, thus hard to say if it was over-rated. I don't usually read murder mysteries, but I found it a good story. Didn't read Enigma. I guess I had to read too much WWII stuff in school. Best,


  3. The late Larson's book is selling very well in America.

    In a bit off-topic news ... looks like somebody at a journal that printed your work Bee is attacking one foundation of Loop quantum Gravity, here. Some seem to feel the idea of a big bounce is unwelcome. :-)

  4. I'm not surprised. The big bounce is not an idea that everybody gets along with well, and there have been arguments about the derivation as long as I can remember hearing talks. I haven't read that paper (and probably won't) but it's good the discussion goes in print. Best,


  5. Hi Bee,

    Well when it comes to reading it’s obvious you put me to shame as I don’t seem to find the time or have the inclination to read much fiction. That said I always meant to read the Hitch Hiker’s guide as it became a part of the culture of an entire generation. I have a son-in-law for instance who makes reference to it and don’t have a clue what he’s talking about. I also have the feeling that you’re reading speed is much quicker than mine, even in English; now that’s a depressing thought :-)



  6. Elchtest: Ein Jahr in Bullerb├╝ translated into English is:

    Elk: One year in Noisy Village

    ... according to Google Translate. :-)

    Myself, I'm reading Farmelo's The Strangest Man, being a great biography of Paul Dirac, this summer.

    That book is so fine I never want it to end!

    "That boat isn't finished."
    ... Pail Dirac, to Niels Bohr, looking at a French impressionist painting in an art museum Bohr took him to, circa 1927.

    So I'm reading it slow (lest it end too soon), along with Fearful Symmetry by Ash about the Galois Group G. To bring balance to the force.

  7. Or as Dirac would say: "Symmetry."

  8. "Bullerb├╝" is a village from the children's books of Astrid Lindgren, the probably most famous Swedish author ever. Lindgren's stories were very popular in Germany. I believe the literal translation you got is correct, but in the book title it stands for the Swedish paradise per se. Best,


  9. Hi Phil,

    I don't usually read that many novels either, it's probably a combination of having been repeatedly sick, presents from friends and relatives piling up, and insomnia related to lack or over-abundance of light that increased my reading output. Then I thought I could as well just dump it here (now the friends and relatives know I've finally read their book).

    The Hitchhiker's Guide is amusing and full of fantasy. I really like Douglas Adam's humor, though I usually don't like books that are just written for the jokes. I believe they made at least the first part into a movie, at least I seem to have vague recollections of seeing one. Best,


  10. Hi Bee,

    So you have a tendency to read more when not feeling your best, I wished I could do that for it would certainly turn a minus into a plus. Also I keep forgetting how much further north Stockholm is then Waterloo, having it in summer nearly becoming a land of the midnight sun. You speak about Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide in respect to its humour yet I’m under the impression he has developed a cult like following from a philosophical perspective with the humour being mostly of a satirical bend and intent. Anyway it is something I should find the time to read if only to understand what he’s saying about the human condition that so many seem to identify with. Then again for that matter the act of reading books of any description these days finds those that still do on regular bases as part of a subculture :-)


    Post a


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