Words Myte Bite

Funny can be whatever you want it to be. The Words and Musings of Paul O'Malley. Sort of a Blog!

Archive for the 'Books N Stuff' Category

21 July
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Recent Reading

Pascal Mercier’s Night Train To Lisbon, this book is brilliant. The plot is simple, it is a lecturer whose boring life gets turned upside just after the book starts. Where it ends, that is up to your imagination, in between there is a journey, a most interesting journey as the protagonist delves into the life of a man who was in the Portuguese resistance back when that kind of thing mattered, as he gets to know this man, he meets new people, ideas, challenges to his thinking.Warning, I found it hard to read, however the style is required to tell the story the way it was told. Well worth spending time with.

Hugo Hamilton’s book The Speckled People, is the early life story of children of an Irish father and German Mother in Ireland in the fifties and sixties. Told though the perspective eyes of one of their children, a consistent in age is used as the viewing point. That view does not change, but the people become older, life becomes more complicated as it usually does. Really easy to read, well written, most enjoyable.

Lastly Bill Oddie’s autobiography, One flew into the the cookoo’s egg. Bill tells the stories of growing up, becoming famous, getting older, having what is often incorrectly referred to as “a nervous breakdown”, dealing with the aftermath of recovery, he even manages to interview himself and manages not to get too caught up in a dream as a result. All in all I really liked it.

20 July
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Scribd attacked by copyright for copyright filter

At this link:


we find a story about http://www/scribd.com a publishing site being attacked for not defending copyright because it tried to. The world gets funnier.

19 March
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The girl with the dragon tattoo and other stories.

Recently during some time off I read the three books The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest. I found them compulsive reading (finished them all within a week). Very well told stories, one or two minor weak points, however the these were well overshadowed by the enormity of the works themselves.

Story in a nutshell girl oppressed by Swedish society wins. Go read them even if you know that much you don’t know anything.

The characters were strong, consistent and believable. Great stuff.

02 December
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When they begin, they begin.

A story, so they say has a beginning, a middle and an end. It is also said there is no wrong, just good choices and better ones.

In saying that the words of the Talking Heads song suddenly echo though my mind creating a different picture.

“Well we know where we’re going. But we don’t know where we’ve been.”, from the classic Road To Nowhere.
Not much use unless you are going tell a story about someone who has forgotten everything! ;-)
Typically we find a story has at least these four aspects a protagonist, an antagonist, a location, and some central conflict.

Perhaps one wishes to write about a shy person, but finds it hard to do. They say choose a strong character.

One could name a shy animal.

This might just be some kind of timid bear, or monkey, or a shrew.

The animal might inform the character in the scene about how they interact with each other.

When making a strong choice the author has to be true to it. If  they feel uncomfortable they can have the character learn something new.

If you are forced by some circumstance to be in a place that is not good then ask yourself can it be used, even to a point. Once you have exhausted the location get out. You are not obliged to stay there. Even a phone booth can be used, think Colin Farrell, a phone booth, one street. That it must be thought of was an exception rather than a rule.

Right about now I am about to read Christopher Vogeler’s, A Writer’s Journey, most likely I’ll find myself writing up some thoughts as I go though it.  If I feel the post is mostly influenced by the book I will annotate this by a (CV) in the blog post title.

26 November
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Reading as a focal point

Reading books is I guess for some people more than a hobby. Reading is a way of being at ease with the world.  Me, I read a lot of printed material. It is a rare week where I don’t get a couple of hours reading done. It is a great week if I can do over eight hours.

For me what I enjoy has varied over time, a couple of years ago I would have said technical, historical, natural history, this progressed to the classics, Homer, The Illiad, ancient lore from the times of the Celts in Ireland, then the Chinese classics, Journey to the West and Outlaws of the Marsh.

Some books I have read include the life stories of great scientists, histories of radio, phosphorus, man and mosquitoes,  the discovery and early use of fingerprints, the history of the coffee house, and some atomic and mathematical material.

They all have one thing in common, they are words on paper. These words when well chosen paint a picture, one where the reader can perhaps relate to the world today from the discoveries or cultural fictions of many years ago.

My favourite reading revolves around short stories, fact or fiction.

Be it pulp fiction or essays by Clive James, Benedict Kiely, or even the letters from America by Alistair Cook. All of these evoke a sense of something happening, encapsulated in a few pages, standing out from the general narrative which surrounds them. For instance Clive James, in his autobiographical The Blaze of Obscurity the author defines chapters in such a way that you need know nothing of the previous, each chapter can be an end in and of itself. Yet with this skill he excels and manages to get them all to link up.

A couple of years ago I got stuck in a reading rut, Kafka, which in and of itself is not bad, but let me suggest that if you do read Kafka it is good for the soul to read lighter materials between bouts with the master of oppression.

In my family we could almost say reading is heredity. Let me take you on a slight diversion, my father an avid reader, as was his father before him who and had the gift of a photographic memory.  In the middle of a discussion between my father and one of his brothers about a story line in a book, my grandfather who had not read the book in question in over thirty years showed this talent he had not advertsied before. He did this by telling them where they were mistaken about plot lines.

Back to my own story about reading, a lot of Kafka it was no longer a joy it was hard work. Chatting with my father one day we got to the point where we decided I needed a change. My father suggested Damon Runyon’s On Broadway* and From First to Last.  I got the books which even now more than fifty years since they were written so well I found I could actually visualise the scenes. Indeed Runyon gave exactly enough information to paint the picture.  Someone who has characters such as “Harry the horse”, and “ever loving wives” has put in serious effort for you the reader to enjoy on your mini vacation as you venture though the world of the diners, drug stores, and how someone almost made it good.  Runyon makes the reader feel they had been there too. Pulp fiction they may call it, but it is alive and well in a class of it’s own.

Let me suggest an audio book by Clive James, Cultural Amnesia, over a hundred essays,  all good, you don’t see a pattern for a while, but when you do it  appears and stands like a masterpiece cut out of marble.

Have fun, distract yourself read a book!

* I could only get it second hand online.