<> Books Read - 1999 <>

Last modified: Sunday, 14 August, 2016

+ My recent, current, and forthcoming reading is covered elsewhere, here's what I read in 1999:

* Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own

Beautifully written and thoroughly considered essay from 1928 on the topic of women's position in society and hence the literary arts.

* Joe Orton: Head to Toe

A highly readable account of an innocent's journey down the body of a giant supporting a host of human parasites. Very surreal, often satirical, and strangely compelling.

* Terry Pratchett: Johnny & the Dead

Johnny Maxwell helps some unusual new friends discover their potential in the second of the Discworld meister's sequence of young adult novels.  A fun read.

* Herodotus of Helicarnassus: The Histories

A fascinating compendium of historical, geographical, and social information from the Greek-known world by the earliest Western historian (writing around 2500 years ago).

* James Gurley: Radiant Measures

A 'slim volume' of intriguing, jewel-like poems.  Several of the pieces dealing, at least in part, with the interface between artistic sensibility and scientific theory.  Fascinating and captivating. A highly rewarding collection.

* William Shakespeare: As You Like It

Pastoral comedy among exiles in the Forest of Arden.

* Simon Callow: The National

Fascinating survey of the history and work of the National Theatre. Much stronger on the period of the first two directors (Olivier & Hall) than that of the third (Eyre). With many wonderfully evocative photographs and a very useful complete chronology of productions.

* Philip K. Dick: Eye in the Sky

Highly readable, pot-boiler Dick. More conventional than his best-known work but still concerned with the perennial Dick question of: reality, its meaning and identification. Written in the mid-fifties, it touches on the effects of McCarthyism and race-relations.

* Mary Norton: The Borrowers Afloat

The third book of the adventures of the little people from under the floor-boards. Charming and life-affirming, without a trace of satire.

* Edward Bond: The Sea

A strange, haunting anti-absurdist play, set on the East coast (of England!) in 1907 and ostensibly dealing with the events surrounding a drowning at sea. It was first produced in 1973 and revived by the National Theatre in 1991, with a cast led by the formidable Judi Dench, which is where I first encountered it.

* Jerome K. Jerome: Three Men in a Boat

Wonderfully dry account of the misadventures of the famous threesome rowing up the Thames. Frequently laugh-out-loud funny, a real tour-de-force of comic writing!

* Bob Shaw: Orbitsville

A page-turning sci-fi thriller with a setting that goes one better than Larry Niven's Ringworld.

* J.R.R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion

The posthumous distillation of Tolkien's invented mythology. From the creation of the world to the end of the Third Age, all the important tales are covered and the events of The Lord of the Rings placed in context.

* Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Holmes returns from his apparent doom at the Reichenbach Fall for a further thirteen adventures in the familiar style. Pleasant, easy reading. My favourite in this batch is probably the double-length story "The Adventure of the Priory School".

* Nancy Mitford: Love in a Cold Climate

Further adventures of the author's thinly-disguised aristocratic family and friends, previously seen in The Pursuit of Love. Marvelously dotty yet touchingly real characters play out complex love-polygons in an inter-war Britain that reeks of Jane Austen.


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