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 […]

The Joke by Milan Kundera (1967)

‘A melancholy duet about the schism between body and soul’ (Milan Kundera in the Introduction) Czech history – a postwar snapshot Kundera was born in 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. When he was ten the Nazis annexed his country and imposed Nazi rule, when he was 16 the Russians liberated his homeland, and when he was […]

Van Gogh and Britain @ Tate Britain

Before I went I’d read some disparaging reviews of this exhibition – but I found it really interesting, thought-provoking, full of wonderful paintings and prints and drawings, and making all kinds of unexpected connections. And big, much bigger than I expected. The premise is simple: Vincent van Gogh came to live in England at the age […]

Seven Clues to the Origin of Life by A.G. Cairns-Smith (1985)

The topic of the origin of life on the Earth is a branch of mineralogy. (p.99) How did life begin? To be more precise, how did the inorganic chemicals formed in the early years of planet earth, on the molten rocks or in the salty sea or in the methane atmosphere, transform into ‘life’ – […]

Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos (1988)

Our innate desire for meaning and pattern can lead us astray… (p.81) Giving due weight to the fortuitous nature of the world is, I think, a mark of maturity and balance. (p.133) John Allen Paulos is an American professor of mathematics who won fame beyond his academic milieu with the publication of this short (134-page) […]

Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion @ Hayward Gallery

Kader Attia is ‘one of today’s leading international artists’ and this exhibition is the first major survey of his work ever held in the UK. Attia was born in 1970 France. His parents were of Algerian origin. He grew up in one of the banlieues or suburbs in north-east Paris, in a multicultural environment where Catholic, Jewish […]

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (1963)

Extraordinary the impact this book had. First a series of five movies 1968-73, then a TV series (1974-5). In recent years the movie franchise rebooted, first with Tim Burton’s 2001 version and then again, with a new sequence of films (Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes […]