Category Archives: Xtra Musings

Rates of Exchange, by Malcolm Bradbury

Rates of Exchange, Malcolm Bradbury, reading review by Ruth Livingstone This book is set in a mythical mid-European country. It opens with a 10 page travel guide to the imaginary city of Slaka and the first chapter follows with an account of a plane touching down on the tarmac. Aboard the plane is a Dr Petworth. He may or may not be an important character in the story to follow. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you whether he was, nor can I tell you what happened to him – as I read no further Continue reading Rates of Exchange, by Malcolm Bradbury

R is for Rocket, by Ray Bradbury

Today I heard the news: Neil Armstrong, the first man-on-the-moon, died yesterday. So, it is fitting that the next book in my ‘have read recently’ pile is Ray Bradbury’s collection of short stories about space flight.

R_is_for_rocket, Ray Bradbury, cover. Book review by Ruth LivingstoneBradbury wrote most of these stories during the 1950s, the decade when the Russian Sputnik programme began. In 1959, after multiple failures, the Russians managed to achieve a crash-landing of an unmanned craft on the lunar surface. During the 1960s, the American efforts to reach the moon were stepped up and by the second half of the decade, successful soft-landings on the moon were being achieved by both nations. But it was the Americans who set the first human on the moon when, in 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Eagle and placed his foot in the dust of the Sea of Tranquillity. Continue reading R is for Rocket, by Ray Bradbury

Goodbye Blogger

I am not sure why Blogger has made the decision not to support Internet Explorer 8 any more. I don’t need to update my computer, thank you. And I don’t want to change my browser to Google Chrome, just to suit the blogging platform.

Maybe it is part of the campaign by Google to take over the internet?

I’m no great fan of Microsoft, but I’m no fan at all of any company who refuses to support interoperability on the Internet – which is the whole basic premise on which web pages and the WWW was built.

So, reluctantly, I am moving out.

Will gradually shift my posts to WordPress, where I already have a number of blogs.

Everything You Need, by A.L. Kennedy

I had read an extract of AL Kennedy’s work for a writing assignment and I have seen her on television. She has a great reputation and comes across as intelligent, articulate and funny. So I was really looking forward to reading one of her novels and I was pleased when I found this one, Everything you Need, in my local library.

You can’t fault the writing. This book is written in a high literary style. Every paragraph, every sentence, every phrase is perfectly crafted. Words are used in new and different combinations. The evoking of place and atmosphere is spot on. The author’s considerable abilities shine through. The writing is stylish. Elegant. Clever. Thought provoking.

But, after getting half way through, and having renewed my loan for the third time at my local library, I decided life is too short to read something that is a chore, rather than enjoyable.

Why did I find this book so difficult to read? Continue reading Everything You Need, by A.L. Kennedy

Will Self, Dr Mukti and other tales of woe

I love seeing Will Self on television. He has an excoriating, acidic wit and delivers lacerating commentary on current affairs with searing insight and refreshing dollops of cynicism. He is also frighteningly intelligent, uses plenty of big words and does not dumb down in a false pretence to be just ‘one of the lads’.

This book is a collection of stories. The longest story, Dr Mukti, is a 130 page novella. The remaining stories are shorter. As you might expect, the tales are dark and brutal; unpleasant characters inhabit inhospitable urban landscapes and do nasty things to each other. Continue reading Will Self, Dr Mukti and other tales of woe

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

This is what I wrote about Blink on the Shelfari review site, a few months ago:

‘Interesting book and very readable. It explores the role of intuition in our thinking (the blink being that sudden feeling or understanding; rapid cognition) and how this may contribute to great decision making, but can also lead us astray.

I would have, personally, found the book more useful if there has been some guidance on when to trust the “blink” and how to develop the ability to “blink” more successfully. ‘

Continue reading Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

Don’t interupt me – I’m reading a book

You know how frustrating it is when you are reading a book and people interupt you?

‘I see you are not busy ..’
‘Do you want to do something?”
‘If you’ve got a minute…’
‘Glad I caught you while you are doing nothing…’

Do you want to shout out loud?

‘I am busy, I am doing something, I haven’t got a minute, I’m not doing nothing; for the love of all that’s holy, can’t you see what I’m doing?


Found this on YouTube, by the wonderful Julian Smith – and love it.