Tuesday, August 11, 2020

GOING TO THE WARS - Max Hastings


This is a memoir of Max Hastings trips to conflicts all over the globe over several decades.

Biafra, Vietnam (several times), Northern Ireland, Israel, the Falklands and several others.

He writes in a very honest fashion regards himself (he's basically a coward he says) and how many other journalists flat out don't like him because of his perceived advantages (class) and his contacts.

This isn't a campaign journal just his memories of events and people he shared them with.

Like all of Hastings writing its very accessible.

Monday, August 3, 2020


Los Angeles, 1946.  It was ex-OSS man Minor Jackson who finally pulled the drowning dwarf out of the actor's swimming pool.  It was also the start of a relationship that would pitch him into a post-war whirlpool of corruption and murder.

No one before or since has has written a ' caper' like Ross Thomas.  He has never written a bad sentence or a dull paragraph.  All his books are immensely entertaining, hard to find believe it or not.  I see Briarpatch has been made into a TV series so hopefully there is a resurgence in the availability of his stories.

TARZAN OF THE APES - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Finally found this to read.  Its outrageously ridiculous, completely over the top,but it is entertaining and you can see that how it developed a following when it was published in serial form in 1912.

Saying that I'll give the other two dozen or so Tarzan books a miss.

THE SCARECROW - Ronald Hugh Morrieson

One of my favourite authors, a great New Zealand author but he gets zero recognition.

From a previous entry:

This is the world of 14 year old Neddy Poindexter and and his mate Les in small town New Zealand in the mid 20th century.

This small town is visited by rape and murder and along the way we glimpse the idiosyncrasies of the people living in this town.

Very very dark, very very wonderful.  Small town NZ exposed.  The myth of the simple clean new Zealand way of life is exposed here as simply that, a myth. Here we have endemic drunkenness, boredom and frustration.

A great read.  Morrieson should be compulsory in schools.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


This is a wonderful collection of short stories, written by one of the modern masters of the genre.

Just don't expect to feel comfortable after reading many of them. Wolff has the knack of identifying all our little vanities and foibles and making the reader examine himself, hence you can feel very uncomfortable.

Great writing.  His memoirs are well worth reading as well.


Detective Appleby is shipwrecked on an island after his shop is torpedoed.  There are several other passengers stranded with him.  Then people start dying.

Innes is the most inconsistent of all detective fiction writers, when he is good its fantastic , when he is bad you get this.  This is truly terrible, absolute tripe.

The only reason I'm not actually throwing the book out is the edition is 58 years old and deserves better, the writing doesn't.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

DREAM STREET - Damon Runyon

The Dream Street of the title is Broadway.  This collection of short stories is told by an anonymous narrator totally in the first person.  It is so totally in the first person , a student of Runyon has found he only used 'was' a half dozen times in all his fiction. 

Here we have tales of hitmen, gamblers , pimps and  dance hall girls all trying to make a dollar and find success.

The characters are not nice people but Runyon gives them humanity in their own pathetic way.   The stand out is is the humour, fantastically funny throughout

The musical Guys & Dolls was based on characters from these stories.  A brilliant read.