Friday, 3 December 2010

What I've been reading

Image of the book cover
Second Class Male
by Stan Madeley

"Whether he's offering himself up for adoption to Elton John or attempting to hypnotize Derren Brown by letter, Stan Madeley (by deed poll) is a fearless and dynamic correspondent. Boldly billing himself as Britain's top Richard Madeley lookalike, he uses his so-called celebrity status as an innovative excuse to plague, pester and pen letters to many well-known faces, politicians and organisations, with hilarious results."
Now that I've read this, I can genuinely endorse it as unexpectedly addictive, and laugh out loud funny in places. It's slightly formulaic, but that just means I was looking forward to finding out what tagline the 'Stanley Madeley Experience Live!' would have in the next ridiculous letter. He has a comic turn of phrase that I love, but the gems are the responses from the public figures and companies that he writes to - David Dimbleby, David Attenborough, the Pope, Michael Howard - especially when they enter into the spirit of the joke. The principle is not new (I remember glancing through The Timewaster Letters a few years back) but Stan's letters are much more enjoyable and inventive than the ones in that book. So the offer's still on - if someone would like me to send them a free copy of the book (one that I have bought, not my signed one), just let me know in the comments.

Image of the book cover
The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"The narrator is a young governess, sent off to a country house to take charge of two orphaned children. She finds a pleasant house and a comfortable housekeeper, while the children are beautiful and charming. But she soon begins to feel the presence of intense evil."
This is actually the second time I have listened to this story, with a different narrator this time. Mr A came into the kitchen and heard a little bit, asked who the author was, and concluded that he wouldn't be reading any Henry James in future. My last audio Henry James was awful - the blog post was from when I put up the post before I'd finished the book, so it doesn't say so, but I don't recommend it. This one is just about OK, but disappointing, and I'm now very worried that if I were to read 'Portrait of a Lady' again, I wouldn't like it.

Image of the book cover
My Man Jeeves
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by Simon Prebble
"Containing drafts of stories later rewritten for other collections, My Man Jeeves offers a fascinating insight into the genesis of comic literature’s most celebrated double-act. All the stories are set in New York, four of them featuring Jeeves and Wooster themselves; the rest concerning Reggie Pepper, an earlier version of Bertie. Plots involve the usual cast of amiable young clots, choleric millionaires, chorus-girls and vulpine aunts."
I hadn't realised until I scouted for the quote above that this contained stories that later re-appeared in more polished form. I thought I'd just read them before, or seen them in TV form. The narrator, who was so brilliant when reading 'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell', somehow isn't as natural with Jeeves and Wooster as Jonathan Cecil is. But Mr Wodehouse's prose makes up for most deficiencies in plot or narration.

No comments: