Stare Into Space

A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Book: Three For One

Posted on | August 11, 2010 | Comments Off on A Nice Cup Of Tea And A Book: Three For One

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t done one of these for a while. Well, I say ‘occurred’ but I’ve been all too aware of it over the last month or two. I’ll attempt to get you up to speed a little with a subsection of the books I’ve read since the last book/tea post (that subsection being those that I remembered to take a photo of next to a cup of tea).

First up Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show On Earth. I love Dawkins. I love his passion. And Dawkins is, quite clearly, passionate about his subject matter. That subject matter here: evolution – something about which the prof knows more than a little. Anyone who has read any of Dawkins’ other books will be familiar with his style and won’t be disappointed. He explains everything clearly and makes his science-bits (most of it) easy to read and very entertaining. Getting back to my earlier point, I believe he manages this because of that passion. It’s so obvious that he dearly loves what he’s explaining and also – I think – loves passing on his understanding in the hope that we’ll love it too.

In the wake of The God Delusion, there is an undercurrent of poking at the creationists throughout. I’d hazard a guess that the concept for this book may have occurred during Dawkins’ repetitive debates with creationists during The God Delusion’s book tour.

Whatever, this book is a wonderful, beautiful look at what really is The Greatest Show On Earth. Get it. Read it.

Ah, Douglas Adams, you great and brilliant geek. Reading this was a bit weird for me. As a young man, bemoaning the fact that the girls were just interested in handsome and cool blokes, I read the Hitchhiker’s books. I loved every cleverly-twisted little word of them. I had always intended to move on to the Dirk Gently books but never really got around to it. Oddly however, while reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, huge swathes of it seemed incredibly familiar to me. I have no conscious recollection of ever owning or borrowing the book so how do I explain this odd déjà vu? It’s entirely possible, I suppose, that I read snatches of it in a bookshop while killing time. In a friend’s house, perhaps. Who knows? I don’t. Weird.

Oh, by the way, the Dirk Gently stories (and this contains the Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul) are fantastic. Adams makes language his bitch and has it contort itself into unusual shapes for our amusement. It’s not Hitchhiker’s but it’s certainly worth a read.

Yes, like everyone else, I had heard all of the talk of posthumous Pulitzers and of mothers pestering publishers to get A Confederacy Of Dunces published long after the death, by suicide, of its author John Kennedy Toole. I had this book neatly filed in the ‘must get around to reading sometime’ list in my head but never got around to reading it. A couple of weeks ago however, a friend of mine (Aidan – I name him as I’m pretty sure he’s looking for a shout-out) mentioned it and offered to lend it to me. True to his word, he posted it through my letterbox the next day (I was out – he’s not that odd).

Toole weaves a number of characters around the flatulent life of, anti-hero, Ignatius J. Reilly and his unwilling quests for work. Ignatius is over-educated and overweening. His pompous denial of most of his reality, however, makes for a very funny read. Ignatius rails verbosely at (or behind the backs of) everyone he encounters and it was these rants that kept me happy until the characters’ threads met in a nice knot at the end.

Eloquent, funny and slightly tragic, A Confederacy Of Dunces is well worth moving up your ‘must get around to reading’ list. Tell them Aidan sent you.

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Gerry Hayes

Gerry Hayes

I mostly sit around all day and drink tea. Occasionally, I write stuff and send it to strangers so they can humiliate me and deride my efforts. Other than the self-harm to dull the shame of failure, it's not a bad life. Like I say, there's tea.

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