If the real world were a book, it would never find a publisher. Over-long, detailed to the point of distraction – and ultimately without a major resolution. — Jasper Fforde’s Something Rotten
It’s been an indoor period for almost everyone here as we’ve had an extended weather front consisting mostly of rather feisty thunderstorms making it unsafe to be outside. That they’ve occasionally mixed with hail has added to the unpleasantness of the weather as Gus, our Estate Gardener and his Staff, have needed to erect protection over our tender growing crops to keep them from being utterly destroyed. That required all available staff to help out as it was a job that needed doing before the storms got here.
Now other needed tasks such as cooking and the usual upkeep chores, everyone’s taking this unexpected downtime to relax and is just doing as little as possible. So the Pub which I manage is rather busy and Iain, our Librarian, says his corner of Kinrowan Hall has been unusually humming for late Spring.
Now let’s see what our reviewers have for you this time. I see a review of the final season of A Games of Thrones, and some choice music reviews as well. Shall we get started?
Michael looks at The Eyre Affair, the first of the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next novels: ‘[He] has created a truly unique, fascinating new world, filled with over-the-top characters and an unforgettable atmosphere. This is the sort of book Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett might have created if they’d ground up Dickens and Lewis Carroll for some highly unorthodox cigars, and gotten schnackered one fine weekend. The humor is unconventional, the literary tributes unmistakable, and the plot highly original. This is a world where people go to Richard III in the same way they might see the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the real world, right down to the audience participation. This is a world where just about anything can happen, and seems rather likely to happen anyway. Time-traveling literary detectives, extinct species brought back as pets, a villain worthy of any hero, and enough twists to keep even the most scholarly of English majors bemused.’
A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files got this note from Richard: ‘Generally speaking, the supernatural western rests roughly at the heart of Joe Lansdale’s run on Jonah Hex. You can shift it a little toward Briscoe County here, a little toward the Deadlands RPG there, but really, the metaphor’s pretty solidly set. Until, of course, something comes along like Gemma Files’ A Book of Tongues, which takes the traditional supernatural western, sizes it up, and then calmly shoots it in the back of the head.’
And speaking of supernatural Westerns, Robert has a look at Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Kid: ‘Subtitled “A Weird West Tale,” Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Kid is an installment in his stories of the Weird West — an alternate universe in which the westward expansion of the United States has been halted at the Mississippi River by the magic of Indian medicine men. That doesn’t stop a few intrepid souls from making the journey to what would become the American West. (Well, in our universe, at least.)’
Robert brings us a view of religion somewhat different than what we’re used to: ‘Vine Deloria, Jr., is a well-known American Indian scholar and activist; having been in the forefront of bringing attention to the injustices suffered by Native Americans, he has been an eloquent spokesman, not only on their behalf, for a widening of our cultural viewpoint. God Is Red remains a crucial volume for anyone interested in the study of religion.’
Denise looks at Game of Thrones Season 8, and is full of conflicting emotions. ‘…much like any other survivor of King’s Landing, I try my best to sift through the wreckage and come up with bits and pieces that were unscathed by the destruction. I’ve found a very nice pile of moments. It’ll have to be enough.’
It being nigh unto summer here that means lots of fresh hand churned ice cream soon with various fruits, especially those Borderland strawberries that start out red and turn white. So it’s apt that Richard has this book for us: ‘Admittedly, most consumers of ice cream wouldn’t care if the first ice cream cone sprang, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus, but for those who are actually curious about where their double-dip hot fudge sundaes originated – and who don’t want to read a tome the size of a cinderblock – there’s Ivan Day’s slender Ice Cream.’
Robert was very enthusiastic about the first three collected volumes of Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina: ‘I was impressed enough with the first collected volume of Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga that when I spotted Ex Machina at my local comics store, I grabbed it. I wasn’t disappointed.’ You can start the adventures of Mitchell Hundred here.
Fairport Convention has had many a boxset in its over fifty-year existence and David looks at one of them, Fairport unConventional: ‘Eleven lead singers, eleven lead guitarists, six fiddlers, seven drummers, five keyboard players, two bass players, four CDs, one 172 page book, a Family Tree from Pete Frame, a poster by Koen Hottentot, a history of Cropredy, some interesting loose papers and ads, a postcard for a 5th CD and a program from Martin Carthy’s birthday celebration! Whew! Does Free Reed know how to throw a party? Until further notice this box is the anthology of the year! Don’t miss it!
Gary tells us about a new recording from a new singer, the banjo-playing Kelly Hunt. ‘The songs on Even the Sparrow are remarkably well-honed for a debut release, as are Kelly Hunt’s playing and singing.’
Gary also peers into some gothic Finnish Americana on Sings by the outsider artist H.C. Slim. ‘Slim creates eerie, dark Americana-style music from his home deep in the countryside of eastern Finland.’
Robert has some reservations about the album that was considered to be Icehouse’s best: ‘Released in 1987, Man of Colours is generally considered to be Icehouse’s best album, and was their most commercially successful. I found it most interesting that not a single cut from this one was included in Great Southern Land, generally taken to be a “best of” compilation.’
Our What Not is a longstanding question we ask folks, to wit what’s your favorite work by Tolkien. Once again, Tolkien’s one volume affair proves popular as Jasper Fforde says ‘it’s The Hobbit, because it’s the only one I’ve read – I liked it a great deal but was never really into spells, wizards and trolls, so never took it any further.’ it’s worth noting that The Hobbit, despite having a reputation as a children’s book is far and away more popular than The Lord of The Rings among the staff, particularly according to Iain Mackenzie, the Estate Librarian, as it’s read mostly in the Winter and there’s a reading group for it that’s been around as long as the book has been around.
Now let’s have some music to finish out this edition. It’s Northumbrian piper and fiddler Kathryn Tickell performing ‘The Pipes Lament’, a tune written by her, which was recorded at the Shoreditch Church, London on the 15th nearly nine years ago, should do nicely. Tickell, by the way, connects indirectly to Charles de Lint’s The Little Country novel as smallpiper Janey Little in the novel lists Northumbrian Bill Pigg as one of her inspirations to become a musician, something that Tickell also claims.