Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Prince of Wales: retreats and yachts

Posted by HC in Books / Sanctuary on 13 November 2008 | No comments ›

I am back in my hill-top cell, and very much enjoying the increasing loneliness. I read and write a lot and am aware of the luxury of my circumstances. Oddly, amongst bigger differences, my life has one or two similarities to the way the Prince of Wales lives. Read more ›

Relics, DNA, adoption and squeamishness

Posted by HC in Books / Ethics / Spirituality on 14 October 2008 | No comments ›

A memoir by novelist A M Homes, a documentary on coroner Shiya Ribowsky and the disinterment of anglo-Catholic Cardinal Newman have combined to make me ponder the business of our connection with the remains of the dead. What’s odd is that modern technology seems to make us more medieval than ever. Read more ›

Ghosting: why the novel is so very good

Posted by HC in Books / People / UK politics on 27 August 2008 | No comments ›

Robert Harris seems to understand what it is to become the shadow of a person. The ghost-writer in The Ghost is wonderfully aware that he is of less significance than those he writes-up, even if they are phoneys, or stupid or second-rate. He’s not a negligible person, but he knows his secondary place in the order of things. Journalists should all know that, and seldom do. As he passes into the world of his subject, he knows that he’s there on sufferance and briefly. He doesn’t for more than a few seconds and occasionally even bother to fantasise that this is really his world. Read more ›

Seen The Ghost?

Posted by HC in Books / Controversies / Ethics / Spirituality / UK politics on 26 August 2008 | No comments ›

Robert Harris’ thriller The Ghost is a brilliant lark. It succeeds because you could enjoy it without knowing much about Tony Blair, Cherie Blair, Anji Hunter and all the other people who have been described as the reality on which Harris has spun a fictional web. But there are some quite big gaps in Harris’s satire. Read more ›

Dickensian enterprise

Posted by HC in Art / Books / People on 25 August 2008 | No comments ›

It’s striking how often any thing grim about social life in Victoria’s reign is called “dickensian”. That was the word Michael Holroyd used to describe the actor Henry Irving’s “drudgery” as a clerk in his early days. (This was in a doubtless fabulous work on the actor by Britain’s greatest literary biographer, just published.) Actually, what was more striking was Holroyd’s evidence of a rather joyful dickensian entrepreneurship. Read more ›

The great – upbeat – 1950s

Posted by HC in Books / People / Travel on 7 August 2008 | No comments ›

Norman Lewis has found a very decent if slightly verbose biographer in Julian Evans. I am particularly keen on Evans’ understanding of the cultural milieu in which Lewis operated. So often we hear of England as being socially ossified, at least until the 1960s. Actually, England has never been socially rigid and it was becoming ever less so in the first half of this century. So here is a quotation from the book which may help rehabilitate the rather vibrant post-war decade. Read more ›

Norman Lewis – hunting authenticity

Posted by HC in Books / Travel on 22 July 2008 | No comments ›

I have read very little Norman Lewis, the travel writer, and will put that right. As shown in the new biography by Julian Evans, the man wrote - as people used to say – like an angel. Mr Evans stresses an important quality in his prey. Lewis, he says, made a huge impression on people, but was sort of evanescent. Read more ›

Can the Wright brothers fix climate change?

Posted by HC in 'Good Business' / Books / Controversies / People on 17 July 2008 | No comments ›

A fascinating new book, Fixing Climate, holds out hope that mankind can mop up the emissions of carbon dioxide which are over-heating the planet. There are lots of reasons to hope that the authors are right. Not the least of them is the fact that two brothers called Wright are foremost in the developments. Wouldn’t it be great if siblings once again solved a problem we have with the air? Read more ›

Princess Royal’s lighthouses

Posted by HC in Boats / Books / Monasticism / Travel on 14 July 2008 | No comments ›

Great news that Princess Anne loves lighthouses, and even better to think that she is following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. Read more ›

Nixon and McCain vs. Obama

Posted by HC in Books / UK politics / US politics on 10 July 2008 | No comments ›

In my earlier post on Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland I sort of conveyed the book’s message but I didn’t trouble to get across how good the book is, or tackle the way it describes how the voting went in the 1972 Nixon/McGovern election. It matters because Perlstein says some of the same factors are still at work, though plenty aren’t. Read more ›