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The Good Soldier
Ford Madox Ford
Granta 7: Best of Young British Novelists
Granta: The Magazine of New Writing, Bill Buford
Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy
Max Hastings
Bamboo
William Boyd
Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe
Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee
HHhH
Laurent Binet, Sam Taylor Mullens
Richer Than God: Manchester City, Modern Football and Growing Up
David Conn
One Summer: America, 1927
Bill Bryson
Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race, and New Beginnings in a New South
Mark Kemp

Tony Bourdain boxset

Tony Bourdain boxset: Kitchen Confidential & Medium Raw - Anthony Bourdain Five stars for Kitchen Confidential, which I thought was brilliantly written and totally engrossing and only three for Medium Raw, which I found a little... undercooked?Kitchen Confidential is a terrific book, one that I wish I'd read sooner because in Bourdain's telling the professional kitchen is really the world of work in microcosm and there is much to learn here.Medium Raw on the other hand was more episodic than Confidential and though there were some interesting notes about where, when and how that book was written, it only harked back to it occasionally - more so towards the end - making it less of a companion piece to Bourdain's first book than their being published in a combined volume would lead you to assume.It also - ironically, given comments that Bourdain has made about Confidential being very New York-centric - was very location specific, with plenty of discourse (entire chapters, even) that weren't really that meaningful to someone unfamiliar with the rarefied air of that city's elite restaurant scene and its key personalities.Still I would recommend Kitchen Confidential unreservedly and this combined volume is a good way of reading it and getting some interesting information on its writing and what its principal characters did next - but you (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) "may wish to skip on to the last chapter which is a good bit and has Kitchen Confidential in it."

Atomised

Atomised - Frank Wynne, Michel Houellebecq An enthralling, thought-provoking book. The best thing I've read in a while.

The Stranger

The Stranger - Albert Camus,  Matthew    Ward This was notionally a re-read, having read it (kinda sorta) in the original French and subsequently in the 1982 Joseph Laredo Penguin Modern Classics translation (titled The Outsider in that edition) as a 17 year-old French 'A' Level student.As 16 years have elapsed since then if I'm honest I could only recall the principal plot points, but nonetheless this was "One of those books that marks a reader's life indelibly", as William Boyd put it and I subsequently read Camus' other major works.I had read that Matthew Ward's 1988 translation, published by Vintage in the USA was a more faithful translation both in word and deed, being Americanized. A trip to New York provided the perfect opportunity to pick a copy up for a re-read.Of course it's impossible to say objectively whether this is a better translation without comparing the two (ideally with a French copy to hand) - but it certainly had lost none of its force for me - and arguably even gained some from its increased directness, hence I'm awarding an extra star.

Boxer Beetle

Boxer Beetle - An interesting tale, well-told - but ultimately none of the protagonists was a sympathetic enough character to make me really care about them.

Revolutionary Road (Vintage Classics)

Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates, Lionel Shriver An astonishing, devastating book. The most affecting thing I've read since John Updike's Rabbit tetralogy (itself acclaimed by Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes as "the best American novel of the postwar period").A tale of subarban discontent set in late '50s Connecticut and New York (think Mad Men) it has an emotional weight and resonance that few books can claim.

Complete Surrender - The True Story of a Family's Dark Secret and the Brothers it Tore Apart at Birth

Complete Surrender - The True Story of a Family's Dark Secret and the Brothers it Tore Apart at Birth - Dave Sharp;Ian McEwan An interesting story and well told, for the most part. Towards the end it started to feel like it was being written to hit a word count - in spite of having been encouraged by his brother Ian McEwan to tell "his story", there are parts where Dave Sharp speculates on the motives for his birth parents' actions long after he had left their lives and was living with his adoptive parents.

Who I Am: A Memoir

Who I Am: A Memoir - Pete Townshend You won't believe that someone who has seen and done so much - because by any standard Pete Townshend has lived an incredibly full life - could possibly be so credulous and naïve as he so often is in this book. Personally as a music nut and Who fan I could have stood for a bit more about the band and the songs in preference to his romantic (mis)adventures and the peregrinations and preoccupations of his personal life - a bit less Meher Baba and a bit more Baba O' Riley, if you will.The acknowledgements refer to it having been whittled down from a thousand pages to less than half as many, and sometimes you can see the joins: in the 1980s Kenney Jones is The Who's drummer, then later he isn't (with no mention of him leaving or having been dismissed) and Zak Starkey - whose only previous mention is drunk, at a party, is (with no mention of how he joined/was hired). These shortcomings notwithstanding, it's an interesting read and I enjoyed it; however it will do nothing to challenge the received wisdom that Keith Richards' Life is the best extant example of the genre. (Personally I preferred David Lee Roth's Crazy From The Heat.)

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly - Anthony Bourdain Five stars for Kitchen Confidential, which I thought was brilliantly written and totally engrossing, a terrific book and one that I wish I'd read sooner because in Bourdain's telling the professional kitchen is really the world of work in microcosm and there is much to learn here.

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook - Anthony Bourdain Only three stars for Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw, which I found a little... undercooked?Medium Raw is more episodic than Kitchen Confidential and though there were some interesting notes about where, when and how that book was written, it only harked back to it occasionally - more so towards the end.It was also very location specific, with plenty of discourse (entire chapters, even) that weren't really that meaningful to someone unfamiliar with the rarefied air of New York's elite restaurant scene and its key personalities.It is of interest for the information on the writing of Bourdain's first book and what its principal characters did next - but you (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) "may wish to skip on to the last chapter which is a good bit and has Kitchen Confidential in it."

Seeing is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love

Seeing is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love - Peter Biskind In spite of what you might be led to believe by the cover image and typography, this is not of a piece with Biskind's books on Hollywood on- and off-screen from the '70s to the '90s. Rather it deals with the politics and semiotics of American film in the 1950s, the time of McCarthyism and Reds under the bed. I've only seen one of the films deconstructed (and that 15 years ago) but this was an interesting read nonetheless. Just don't make the same mistake I did in assuming it would be another gossipy exposé.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell Good fun, but in truth this is a blog masquerading as a book.

Down and Dirty Pictures

Down and Dirty Pictures - Peter Biskind Nobody comes out of this book well - not Robert Redford, not Quentin Tarantino and least of all, not Harvey Weinstein. But none of them - to my knowledge - has sued Peter Biskind and the book is very robustly sourced (not for no reason). A very enjoyable read and a fitting sequel to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which I read about fifteen years ago.

Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, "Rabbit Remembered"

Licks of Love - John Updike Here ends my journey with Rabbit.

Collected Prose

Collected Prose - Paul Auster I'm marking this down slightly as it contains two books I'd already read separately (in their own volumes): The Invention of Solitude and Hand to Mouth. That wasn't at all clear to me from the publisher description and I might have thought twice before buying it if I'd realised. That said, if I hadn't already read and enjoyed those separately it would be a solid four stars because those are good reads (no pun intended).It also contains The Red Notebook - which, again, has been published separately in its own right - and that apart from the books mentioned above is arguably the best part of it. The rest is honestly a little nugatory - prefaces, without the books that ought to follow them are not especially useful.One of the longer pieces, on French poetry, I found hard to get into as regrettably I'm not especially interested in poetry, French or otherwise (thought it did contain some sentiments on the commonality of French and English as languages which I found interesting as a Francophile and Francophone).If you don't already own the books collected here I would recommend it unhesitatingly; if not then it really is only for the dedicated Auster completist.

Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics

Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics - Jonathan Wilson I really liked it. Notionally a treatise on the history and development of tactics in football - which sounds on the face of it rather dry - but in Jonathan Wilson's skilled hands it is in fact nothing less than a history of football and how it came to assume such a central place in our culture. Highly recommended.

Road Rights Restricted

The Road - Cormac McCarthy I read this last night in one pop-eyed sitting.