Think Inc. by Adam Diment (1971)

I squeezed the trigger and there was a derisive click as the firing pin fell on nothing. The fucking gun wasn’t even loaded. (p.29) And so we bid a sad farewell to the stoned and sex-mad ‘spy’, Philip McAlpine, in this, the fourth and final novel by young Adam Diment, all public school and swinging London, who […]

The Bang Bang Birds by Adam Diment (1968)

‘McAlpine,’ he grunted, ‘ why do you wear such godawful clothes. You look like a pacifist faggot beatnik hippie.’ (p.42) The Bang Bang Birds – Great title, a really brilliant title. The setting This is Adam Diment’s third novel about his twenty-something hash-happy, dolly bird-hunting ‘spy’, Philip McAlpine, and finds our layabout spook lounging in […]

The Great Spy Race by Adam Diment (1968)

It felt good to be alive – take a memo McAlpine – make sure you stay that way. (p.78) The main attraction of being a layabout is watching the rest of the world rushed off its aching feet. (p.83) This is Diment’s second novel featuring Philip McAlpine – a kind of lazy, dirty, dope-smoking twenty-something […]

The Dolly Dolly Spy by Adam Diment (1967)

‘I think the sexy spy’s going out of vogue, don’t you, Bill, darling?’ Brentridge laughed a bit. ‘Yes, worse luck. It’s all computers these days.’ (p.167) Adam Diment The mysterious Adam Diment was 23-years-old when this, his first novel, was published. It shot him to fame, he appeared in all the right Sunday supplements, and […]

What Where by Samuel Beckett (1983)

Time passes. That is all. Make sense who may. What Where is Samuel Beckett’s last play. Like many of his later works it was written for a commission, in this case for the 1983 Autumn Festival in Graz, Austria. Beckett wrote it between February and March 1983, initially in French as Quoi où, then translated […]

Not I by Samuel Beckett (1972)

…. grabbing at the straw… straining to hear… the odd word… make some sense of it… whole body like gone… just the mouth… like maddened… and can’t stop… no stopping it… something she – … something she had to – … what?… who?… no!… she!… Remember how episodes of the American sitcom Friends were named ‘The […]

Murphy by Samuel Beckett (1938)

‘Unless you want me to call a policewoman,’ said Murphy, ‘cease your clumsy genustuprations.’ (Murphy page 56) This is Beckett’s first published novel. I expected it to be an improvement on his first published book, the collection of linked short stories, More Pricks Than Kicks, but the essential feel, the worldview and style are very much […]

To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw (2015)

This is volume seven in the eight-volume Penguin History of Europe and it is very good. It has to cover a lot of ground and Kershaw does it clearly and authoritatively. He does this more by focusing on broad themes and issues, than getting snarled up in details. It is a high-level overview. Contents The […]

The Realist (1918) by Hermann Broch (1931)

Incapable of communicating himself to others, incapable of breaking out of his isolation, doomed to remain the mere actor of his life, the deputy of his own ego – all that any human being can know of another is a mere symbol, the symbol of an ego that remains beyond our grasp, possessing no more […]

The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)

Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky. This sense of being abandoned, which might in time have given characters a finer temper, began, however, by sapping them to the point of futility. (The Plague, page 63) The plot We’re in […]