The Tent, the Bucket and Me – Emma Kennedy

kennedy_tentThe Tent, the Bucket and Me was an obvious buy when I found it in London a year and a half ago. For some reason it’s been languishing on a shelf since then, until it grabbed my attention when I was looking for a book to bring on the aforementioned long weekend in Dublin. It turned out to be a good and a bad choice.

Good because it is cracking. Really. Read this book, especially if you’ve ever been dragged along on a camping trip as a child.

Bad because, well, it’s cracking. It cracked me up. Repeatedly. On public transport.

Luckily, I don’t really mind laughing out loud on public transport. Lately, though, I haven’t been reading too many books that were literally laugh out loud funny. I’ve read a few that claimed to be so on the cover but weren’t. So I was a bit out of practice. Not complaning, though. Far from it.


Twenty Chickens for a Saddle – Robyn Scott
Since I finished Beadle the Bard during the flight to Oslo for a course and I hadn’t brought another book (I wasn’t expecting any reading time, actually), I swooped down on the non-fiction shelves at Tanum at OSL, and managed to pick this up and pay for it and still run to catch an earlier flight that my colleague had just realised we were in time for. (Yay for run-on sentences!) I don’t normally pay much attention to the blurbs on the cover of books, but in this case they had me even before I’d read the book’s title. The top of the cover reads: «A wonderful memoir of an exotic childhood. – Alexander McCall Smith». Sold! And he’s right, too. Robyn Scott grew up in Botswana with an, uhm, excentric collection of relatives and the book is full of wonderful detail and hilarious anecdotes, as well as some more serious topics, amongst them perfectly heartbreaking illumination of the emergence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana. One for your mnt tbr, dear reader.

Martha Jane & Me: A girlhood in Wales – Mavis Nicholson
I’ve never seen Mavis Nicholson on tv, as far as I know, and certainly had no idea who she was when I picked up this book second-hand on one of our pilgrimages to Britain. But then, this book does not really demand any prior knowledge of the writer, and though if you were a fan you’d find it an interesting read, I found it interesting enough in its own right. I’m not really a great one for biographies and memoirs as such, I’m not all that interested in how a great man or woman became great. What I am interested in is stories. That they happen to be non-fiction is fine with me, were they all fiction that would be fine, too.

Since the middle of February

The Tale of Desperaux – Di Collofello
Very sweet. Not exceptionally good, though, and with an underlying sort of morality which bothered me. Since I rather like rats I objected to the description of them being so nasty to look at and touch (especially in comparison with mice, which are, apparently, not nasty at all), but I can understand how it might be necessary for the story. However, I can’t quite excuse the idea that a rat is a rat and can never change his nature, it smacks – to me – a little of the I’m-trying-to-be-politically-correct-but-I’m-a-racist-really premise that all, say, negroes are lazy, but it’s in their nature and they can’t really help it. Balderdash.

Small Wars Permitting – Christina Lamb
Very interesting, highly readable. My father just finished this when I was trying to get through Sorting Out Billy (see below) and there was no competition, really, I jumped at the chance to read something else. Lamb manages to be both informative, profound and thought-provoking and at the same time laugh-out-loud funny in places. The book contains both newly written context material and quite a few of Lambs articles from various papers and both are equally readable and absorbing. Highly recommended.

Then, a bit of a Durrell reread going on – in between all the other stuff – if I find the time and energy I might write a more detailed post on Durrell, but for now, here’s a list:
The Bafut Beagles – Gerald Durrell
Fillets of Plaice – Gerald Durrell
The Stationary Ark – Gerald Durrell
A Zoo in my Luggage – Gerald Durrell
Catch me a Colobus – Gerald Durrell
The Dunken Forest – Gerald Durrell
Himself and Other Animals – David Hughes (biography)

Sorting Out Billy – Jo Brand
I read only the first half, or thereabouts and then gave it up in disgust. Abysmally bad, actually.

The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly
Entertaining, slightly scary in parts. Well worth the time.

Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes
Excellent. I was a little worried, not being a great fan of spiritualism and trying to speak to the dead, however, Keyes managed the issue beautifully, I think, and I didn’t cringe even once.

Slam – Nick Hornby
Hornby’s first «young adult» novel, which probably should be compulsory reading for most British teenagers as a sort of literary contraception. Not Hornby’s best book – by far – from an adult point of view, but then that’s hardly the right point of view for judging it.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

A Ramble Round the Globe – Thomas Dewar
Disappointingly unoccupied with whisky or with advertising, the two main reasons I am interested in Tommy Dewar, but a rather interesting read nonetheless.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
Just what you’d expect from Bill Bryson: Very good.

Waltzing Through Flaws

Waltzing Through Flaws by Paula Sharp popped up in a box of books that I found buried in the closet. I thought we’d unpacked all the books, but obviously not. Anyway, I was exstatic to see it, as I thought I had donated it to charity and have been wracking my brains trying to remember the title in order to get hold of a new copy because I suddenly, a few months back, got the urge to reread it. I had gotten waltzing mixed up with skipping (easily done) and so any search I tried, whether on amazon, abe og google obviously returned pretty nonsensical results.

So, not the world’s greatest novel, but a pretty good read, and characters that obviously stay with you longer than you expect them to. It’s an interesting expostion of addiction (alchohol, religion, adrenaline: pick you own drug) and Paula Sharp manages to tell the story from eight-year old Penny’s point of view in a very convincing way, without sounding unrealistically stilted and without succumbing to cuteness or unneccessary naiveté.

100 shades of White

I’ve reread the Chronicles of Narnia since you last heard from me, but I really don’t have much to say about them other than that (as I said in connection with the movie review) I love them unconditionally.

I then started on 100 Shades of White by Preethi Nair, which I just bought in the Tapir spring sale (at 90% off, a pleasant surprise at the till, as I thought it was 70% off and I got 8 books for 100 kroner instead of 300 and something which I was expecting). 100 Shades of White is engaging and manages to touch a few «serious» themes before ending, I’m glad to say, on a feel-good note. I didn’t like the structure – the novel changes between two first person narrators and makes a few jumps in time – but I’d be hard-pressed to put my finger on what it was that irked me, and it certainly wasn’t irking enough to put me off noting down Nair as someone I’d like to hear more of.