Snapshot February 2015

The first day of a new month and it’s time to take a quick snapshot of what I’m reading, listening to and watching.


I’m 80 pages from the end of Santango by the Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai. This was first published in Hungary in 1985 and regarded as a classic, but wasn’t available in English until 2012.  To call this book bleak would be an understatement. It’s almost brutal in its vision of life in a rotting, rain-drenched hamlet populated by a bunch of misfits. The narrative style is unforgiving (chapters without paragraph breaks) but so compelling. As a complete contrast I’m reading Mrs.P’s Journey: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map by Sarah Hartley. It’s a semi-fictionalised account of Phyllis Pearson, a painter who apparently single-handedly walked London’s 23,000 streets on foot during the course of one year, meticulously documenting every avenue, cul de sac and mews. To publish the map, and in light of its enormous success, she set up her own company, The Geographer’s Trust, which still publishes the London A-Z and that of every major British city. This is our book club choice which we’ll be meeting to discuss next week. It will be interesting to hear whether our members see Pearson’s life story as an urban myth or truth.

Listening to

On the iPod for my journey to work and as my gym companion, I’m listening to an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop. It’s a good choice for audio with so many colourful characters (I disagree with people who see Dickens as simply a caricaturist) who have idiosyncratic speech patterns. It’s also so over the top with its good versus evil tussle between sweet, good natured Little Nell and the malicious dwarf Daniel Quilp that it’s amusing.


Series 2 of Broadchurch is on currently but its such a disappointment after series 1. It’s descended to the point where you really can’t believe in the police officer played by David Tennant. He’s so inept I have to wonder how he’s ever held down a job in the force.

Talking of credibility, our box set of the The Good Wife series 5 brings many rolling of the eyes moments during court room scenes. Aren’t there any lawyers in Chicago other than Lockhart & Gardner and their new rival firm of Florrick & Agos  and why do they always need to send their most senior partners to these cases? Some of the antics in court seem ludicrous – I know US court procedures are much less formal than those in UK but they seem ridiculous at times. Still, it’s good entertainment to wind down with at the end of the day.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on February 1, 2015, in Sunday Salon and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Mrs. P’s Journey sounds interesting and you’ll definitely have to do a post-book group recap!

  2. No!! Don’t tell me season two of Broadchurch is terrible! I’m about four episodes into season one and liking it very much. Well drat.

    • we watched episode four of series 2 and honestly questioning whether to continue. Such a disappointment after the first series which was superb. this one is way to slow

  3. Have you tried Spiral on BBC4 on Saturday at 9.00? It’s brilliant and might be an antidote to Broadchurch disappointment.

    • I haven’t heard of that one Vicky – it seems to be far along already (series 5 I think). So maybe we;ll have to get a box set so we can watch from the beginning.Thanks for the tip

  4. Quite the eclectic batch of reading/listening/viewing. I often wonder about how all the diverse moods, characters and thematic cultural choices that I put into my head do to my brain. Maybe they balance each other out. Sounds like that’s a bit what’s happening for you.

    • I suppose that’s why I find it so difficult to answer the question ‘what kind of books do you like reading’. Its much easier to say what I don’t like.

  5. I’ve never read The Old Curiosity Shop, though I’m a big fan of Dickens. Winter is perhaps the best season to read him, I think, with all the drafts, damp and darkness. Bleak House and Great Expectations have occupied my winters past.

  6. Yeah The Good Wife is a good place to unwind. It’s sort of shenanigans but it’s better to just go with it. Enjoy your week.

  7. I do like the sound of Mrs P’s journey, I remember we always used to have a copy of the A-Z in the car when I was a child! Unlike you I’m still enjoying Broadchurch although I have to agree it doesn’t have the credibility of the first series, I’m addicted!

  8. Thats true Guy, where would scriptwriters be without dysfunctional coppers? I saw reference to Satantango as a film – seven hours long apparently. I can’t imagine any story is really worth that …

  9. It’s a dilemma with these police series: the writers want to engage viewers/readers with the personal problems of the characters, but sometimes the problems push credulity. There are so many detectives (fictional) coming into work drunk and keeling over, you know that they would be pulled up short at some point–not that booze is the central issue in this case.

    I read that Satantango was made into a book by Bela Tarr–enough said. If you watch a few scenes of his films, you’re ready to jump off a bridge.

  10. Tennant really does his best – its the script that leaves a lot to be desired. And they have given him this weird beard which grows down on his neck making him look like some gorilla. Yuk

  11. I’m sorry to hear about the second season of Broadchurch. My wife and I enjoyed the first season when we saw it on Netflix, here in the States, and we like David Tennant. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up the momentum, I guess, for a second season.

  12. The London A to Z was pretty much indispensable when I first came to live here – alas like everything else technology has overtaken it but I’m intrigued by her journey! I’m with you on Broadchurch 2 – I lived the first series but the second series is pretty awful – they should have quit when then they were ahead on this one!

  13. I love Dickens and his brilliant characters!

  14. Mrs P’ s journey sounds great (I hope it’s true!)

    • There is a lot which is true Ali – but her own version of events leaves a lot out so whether that is selective memory or the fact it never happened at all, remains to be seen

  15. Mrs P’s Journey sounds wonderful!

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