Saturday, April 30, 2011


Another collection of travel pieces from AA Gill. I admit I am a fan and he never writes anything that is not interesting or unreadable.

The collection is broken up into two parts, 'near' and 'far'. The 'near' section comprises stories written concerning the UK and it then follows the ' far' portion are off shore tales.

My favourite is the article written concerning Hyde Park, a very interesting place. Gill is a bit negative on the the exploration of space according to me, the writings good, I just disagree with him in this article.

A great collection, read all his stuff you'll not be disappointed


A satire of Oxford life set in in the late 1900's.

It is the story of a conjurer , Zuleika Dobson, who goes to stay with her uncle at Oxford.

She has numerous undergraduates fall in love with her who she all spurns , this leads to at least one suicide and chaos throughout the novel.

It is very funny in places and I stuck with it but I do believe it was only very relevant to those who attended Oxford in and around the same time period. For those of us that have never even been to a university let alone Oxford much of what is written sailed completely over my head.

This is listed as one of the great novels, but I have a feeling a lot of the votes will have come from Oxford graduates.


This is Doctorow's first novel published in 1960. It is a western and it is brutal. But it is a lot more than a western so don't be put off, the old west is just the setting, the story could be set anywhere, anytime that humans are around.

It is a story of cowardice and greed in a small town in the middle of no where.

If you like happy endings give this a miss but its is great writing and even though you know it is all going to end in tears it is well worth the effort.


I bought this to read because Evelyn Waugh was one of the main subjects.

It covers the period after the First World War where there was a fashion, particularly among Oxford types to be very, effeminate or be dandy's. This is explained as a rebellion against the stiff upper lip of their fathers and the world that had lead them into the Great War.

The focus of the book is on Harold Acton and Brian Howard firstly,but as these two never really achieved alot in comparison to others like Waugh, Auden and Isherwood et al it looses its way often. I would be reading along ready to put it back on the shelf and then there would be some little gem concerning Waugh or pre- WWII history-this would be enough to keep me going until the next tedious part ,and there are a few,and then something else would make it all worth while.

There is some very good background on Philby, McLean and Burgess as these three were all part of this generation. Still amazing the Oxbridge types did nothing even though they knew Philby was a spy. Many lives could have been saved if someone had acted.

This is a good socail history and great for dipping into but the authors thesis that this dandisim was a dominant cultural style in Britain for a period is unproven, in that he is talking of a very small proportion of Oxbridge undergraduates and graduates let alone the entire population of Great Britan.


This is the opposite of the Tynan diary.

Firstly, its not really a diary its an autobiography and secondly it was written when Gray was dieing of cancer, and like Tynan he was always broke, so it feels like a superannuation scheme for his family.

It has its moments and there is some good humour, but over all it was a struggle.

There are another three sequels but I'll be giving them a miss


Wonderfully indiscreet diary from Tynan.

This has everything that a published diary should have, lots of good gossip and humour. The JFK - Greta Garbo story again exemplifies what a loathsome person Kennedy was.

Tynan was also heavily into S and M and liked to spank women on the bottom, his wife wasn't keen on this so he had an extra one for this carry on.

One other strange thing that really stood out was that he was always broke but never seemed to have any trouble flitting across the Atlantic at the drop of a hat. Obviously his definition of broke and mine bear no relation to each other.

As a diary this is highly recommended, great entertainment.