Came across a word I was unsure of in a novel today lumpenproletariat – this is surprising, not because I found an unfamiliar word, but because I did Economics in high school where I’m pretty sure we covered Marxian theories. How could I forget such a cool sounding word?
Well, for two years I had the same male Economics teacher and we female students were convinced he’d drop his pen deliberately so he’d be able to bend down and look up our skirts (either that or he was incredibly un-coordinated!). You could hear the distracting sound of knees clapping together whenever he started pacing in-front of the class with a pen in his hand.
Now that I’ve found this word I’m looking forward to casually throwing it into a sentence as Kate Atkinson has done in “Started Early, Took my Dog” Tracy liked getting up close and personal with the punters. She strolled past Morrisons, the Gap, where Woolworths used to be, Poundstretcher – the retail preferences of the lumpenproletariat.”
Because the first two weeks of March were taken up with my quick trip to Australia I totally forgot about posting my February reads – so I’m adding them to March here. So far towards this year’s goal of 75 I’ve finished 15 books.
Discovered Denise Mina a Scottish writer (born in Glasgow moved about a lot and now residing back in Glasgow). Her first book Garnethill won the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy Dagger for the Best First Crime novel.
Garnethill – Denise Mina (Published 1998). Set in Glasgow the unlikely heroine is Maureen O’Donnell, a member of an “unsavoury family” – a family that is seriously dysfunctional. Maureen works in a ticket booth, enjoys a really good “piss up” and is pretty rough around the edges. After one of these really good piss ups Maureen wakes to find the body of her married lover in her flat and the book delves into Maureen’s past and ongoing mental health issues as she goes about determining who killed him. Lots of Aye, Auch, Fukt – I loved this book, the first in a Trilogy it was dark but compelling.
Exile – Denise Mina – the second book in the Garnethill Trilogy. The same self destructive characters again provide a powerful, gripping read. Maureen is now working in a women’s shelter when she gets involved in the disappearance and murder of one of the women. Maureen travels to London trying to pierce together what happened to this woman at the same time attempting to escape from her own demons.
Resolution – Denise Mina – by this, the last book in the trilogy Maureen is unkempt and often drunk by noon, and having to deal with the aftermath of Exile. This book is disturbing at the same time as being a terrific read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this Trilogy – while I was reading the books I would go to bed with Maureen in my head. There was so much more to the books than the actual stories. Once I’ve got my “to read” pile down a little I will be looking for more Denise Mina books.
Whiskey Sour – J.A. Konrath This book introduces Jacqueline Daniels of the Chicago PD. It was a good train-ride book – the overworked, caffeine-addicted Jack Daniels and her food-addicted partner investigate a series of gruesome serial murders. Not a stand out book but it was an easy read and I did laugh out loud a few times. I like the titles Konrath has used for this series: after Whiskey Sour there is Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail, Dirty Martini, Fuzzy Navel……
Lay Down my Sword – James Lee Burke (published 1971). This book introduces Hackberry Holland a Korean War vet, running for Congress but driven to alcoholic, self destructive behaviour by his POW memories. It was a good read as we follow Hack through some self discovery and a degree of self redemption. James Lee Burke is fabulous at describing a landscape in my head.
Gateway Drug – Scott Nicholson, Tim Lebbon & Shane Jiraiya Cummings
A book of ten short stories – a mix of murder, magic and strangeness. These were quite short stories and I could usually get through one on a commute. The best story was the first one, Timing Chains of the Heart by Nicholson about a young man and his car and what happens when he hits a young lady at the side of the road. “Night hid the rest of the world, and that was fine with J.D. The world was nothing but litter along the highway, as far as he was concerned” …
“Doors Open” Ian Rankin. This book was quite disappointing. I was a huge fan of Rankin’s Rebus series and this is definitely not Rebus – the characters don’t come close. I found it hard to finish this because I really didn’t care what happened to the characters. Involves an underworld criminal, some art thief novices and a plodding policeman.
Hume’s Fork – Ron Cooper. This was a fantastic read! The manservant and I read it at the same time so it was fun to discuss – a wide open glimpse into the South; most of us have a bit of this “family” in our backgrounds. I laughed out loud many times at the situations in this book and occasionally blinked back tears. It’s a weird comic-drama involving family, religion and philosophy and set in the wilds of South Carolina. Legare Hume and his friend, Saul Grossman take a road trip to a convention and end up staying with Legare’s family when Grossman fails to make a hotel reservation. This is a family that Legare has spent most of his life being embarrassed by and ignoring. There is terrific word play throughout this intelligent and satirical book – I loved it.
Ron Cooper was born in South Carolina; he earnt a BA in philosophy from the College of Charleston, an MA from the University of South Carolina, and a PhD from Rutgers University. His next book is Purple Jesus which I already have in my to-read pile.
Jolie Blon’s Bounce – James Lee Burke Continuing on with my reading of the Dave Robicheaux series, this is the 12th book (published 2002). Dave investigates the death of a pretty teenage girl and a prostitute which seem unrelated but both involve Tee Bobby Hulin a drug addicted Cajun blues singer (one of his songs is the title of the book). Dave’s personal humiliation at the hands of an evil overseer named Legion bring out the old inner demons and Dave turns his addictive nature to pills and he comes very close to going back on the booze. This book was a little slower reading than previous ones as Dave and his family deal with these issues but I enjoyed the dark historical theme in the background.