Tag Archives: The Last Interview

158. Books Bought & Read, July 2017…

158. Books Bought & Read, July 2017…

My attempt to chisel away at the Mount Rushmore of Books To Be Read continued apace this month. Thanks to my bedside stack containing a number of plays and various other thin collections of interviews and whatnot, I managed to read better than a book a day, tossing off 33 books in July.

The bad news was that I also somehow managed to purchase 32 books. But every little helps.

I had picked up a stack of plays at the Book Expo I volunteered at the previous month, and they were interesting pre-sleep companions. Some were disappointing, (I’m looking at you, David Bowie’sLazarus‘), some were downright silly, (‘Ripcord‘), and some were time-bendingly fascinating, (notably the offering from Tracy Letts, who gave us the play which gave us the movie August: Osage County).

I was most exciting to finally read the original play of ‘Twelve Angry Men,’ which didn’t disappoint: I’ve always loved the movie, a throwback to the days when a lack of flashy FX meant a reliance on plot, dialogue and acting.

I ripped through three more of the ‘Last Interview‘ collection, (unearthed at the ever gloomy but often rewarding East Village Books), which led to me dabbling in my second ever Ray Bradbury, (I presume everyone in the world has read ‘Fahrenheit 451‘), and whilst ‘The Martian Chronicles‘ was an amusing series of vignettes and short stories, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations its influence on a past generation appears to have had.

The same cannot, by any means, be said of the influence of Senator John Lewis, the worst possible person President Trump could have chosen to accuse of being “all talk and no action” back when he was just President-elect, (remember those good old days?)

I may not have known much (read: anything) about Lewis’s career before the spat with Trump, but in ‘March,’ the trilogy of graphic novels recounting Lewis’s career in civil rights activism, I was left literally wide-eyed with wonder at the risks he and fellow protestors were willing to take simply to be considered human beings.


The history culminates in the books with the march on Selma, Alabama, in 1963, (about which Malcolm Gladwell recently released a fascinating podcast), and I imagine anyone who has read it will feel, like me, that it deserves to be on every school syllabus across the country.

A special mention this month goes to A.N.Wilson’s ‘The Book Of The People: how to read the bible,’ not so much for its content, (interesting in parts, overly personal and sentimental on the whole), but for having the most stunning cover I have seen for a very long time. Sometimes I buy books just for their covers: if only there were some sort of catchy folk-wisdom to advise me against such practices…


Probably my favourite novel of the month was Chris Bachelder’s excellent ‘The Throwback Special,’ an incredibly astute, simple masterpiece.

22 ‘friends’ (read: guys who meet once a year to fulfil some inexplicable rituals) meet in the same room, in the same hotel, at the same time every year to re-enact the (American) football play made (in)famous in Michael Lewis’s ‘Blind Side’: Lawrence Taylor dissintegrating Joe Thiesmann’s tibia and fibula.


Bachelder’s cycles us through the minds and misgivings of each member in turn, sometimes slower, sometimes faster, with prose that pops each of them into 3D in an endless loop of pitch-perfect psychology and thought-provoking observation. I enjoyed his debut novel, ‘Bear vs Shark,’ for its dystopian ridiculousness; I loved ‘The Throwback Special’ even more.

Books Bought, July 2017

A Child In Time (Ian McEwan)

Twelve Angry Men (Reginald Rose)

The Great Questions Of Tomorrow (David Rothkopf)

The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)

The Terrorist’s Son: a story of choice (Zak Ebrahim & Jeff Giles)

Cosmopolis (Don Delillo)

Wild Things: the joy of reading children’s literature (Bruce Handy)

How To Travel Without Seeing: dispatches from the new latin america (Andres Newman)

Food Of The City: new york’s  professional chefs, restaurateurs, line cooks, street vendors, and purveyors talk about what they do and why they do it (Ina Yalof)

Storyteller: the life of roald dahl (Donald Sturrock)

Appointment In Samarra (John O’Hara)

Food Anatomy: the curious parts & pieces of our edible world (Julia Rothman)

Beast (Paul Kingsnorth)

The Once And Future King (T.H.White)

Stranger In A Strange Land (Robert A.Heinlein)

Dune (Frank Herbert)

The Left Hand Of Darkness (Ursula K.LeGuin)

Necromancer (William Gibson)

2001: a space odyssey (Arthur C.Clarke)

McSweeney’s no.1 (Various)

My Documents (Alejandro Zambra)

March: Book I (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book II (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book III (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

Fragile Acts (Allen Peterson)

White Girls (Hilton Als)

Heroes Of The Frontier (Dave Eggers)

The Seven Good Years (Etgar Keret)

Alice, Let’s Eat: further adventures of a happy eater (Calvin Trillin)

The Beach Of Falesá (Robert Louis Stevenson)

We (Yevgeniy Zamyatin)

Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (Diane Williams)


Books Read, July 2017 (recommended books in bold)

The Midnight Folk (John Masefield)

The Last Interview: Roberto Bolaño

The Last Interview: Ray Bradbury

The Last Interview: Jorge Luis Borges

The Book Of The People: how to read the bible (A.N.Wilson)

My Friend Dahmer (Derf Backderf)

The Last Temptation (Neil Gaiman)

The Complete Polly And The Wolf (Catherine Storr)

Warren The 13th And The All-Seeing Eye (Tania Del Rio & Will Staehle)

Twelve Angry Men (Reginald Rose)

The Great Questions Of Tomorrow (David Rothkopf)

The Terrorist’s Son: a story of choice (Zak Ebrahim & Jeff Giles)

How Google Works (Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg)

The Last Unicorn (Peter S.Beagle)

The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)

The Throwback Special (Chris Bachelder)

Oslo (J.T.Rogers)

Lazarus (David Bowie & Enda Walsh)

Mary Page Marlowe (Tracy Letts)

Eclipsed (Danai Gurira)

Ripcord (David Lindsay Abaire)

The Missing Of The Somme (Geoff Dyer)

Believe Me: a memoir of love, death and jazz chickens (Eddie Izzard)

Americanah (Chmamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Fragile Acts (Allen Peterson)

My Documents (Alejandro Zambra)

The Sense Of Style: the thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century (Steven Pinker)

Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behaviour (Leonard Mlodinow)

How To Build A Girl (Caitlin Moran)

March: Book I (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book II (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

March: Book III (John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell)

Cosmopolis (Don Delillo)





Posted by on August 7, 2017 in BOOKS


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153. Books Bought & Read, February 2017…

153. Books Bought & Read, February 2017…

An increasingly ridiculous 72 books bought, and an impressive, round, if comparatively underwhelming 20 read, (and don’t forget, this was the shortest month of the year: I was almost on a book-a-day rate!)

This month, I devoured a couple of fun Ted Talk books and a couple of School of Life self-help books, (one of each on how/with whom to fall in love, which I seem to have done OK without but recommend for any single readers out there for hints on how to broaden your horizons).

Whilst celebrating Mardi Gras down in New Orleans, (or Norlins, as the locals have taught me to properly pronounce it, y’all), I found my Travel Pile accidentally consisting of several books on a fitting theme, given my vacation destination and the fact that it was Black History Month.

I felt, as just about everyone did, that Harper Lee’s long delayed ‘Mockingbird’ sequel was a delightful read until the bizarre conclusion, and the wonderfully named NoViolet Bulawayo’s modern take on the themes of immigration, race and roots in her debut novel ‘We Need New Names‘ was an amazing tapestry of snapshots from Zimbabwe to ‘Destroyed, Michigan,’ (as the title suggests, names play a fascinating role in her book).

After seeing the stunning documentary ‘I Am Not Your Negro‘ at the cinema, I took James Baldwin’s advice to read ‘A Raisin In The Sun.‘ I had never heard of it but, according to its cover, ‘Raising’ is up there with ‘Death Of A Salesman‘ in the pantheon of American theatre, and it was indeed a great read, joined on the shelf by a collection of Baldwin writings I went straight out to buy after the movie too.

Alongside the Last Interview series on Martin Luther King Jr. which I also read, I am feeling simultaneously marginally more informed and hugely more depressed, a state of affairs not aided by another Oscar-nominated documentary, ‘13th,’ which I watched to educate myself some more on race and the American prison system this month.

My plunge into US and NY history continued apace. I explored New York’s food history with Robert Sietsema, its architectural history with Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses, and its immigration history with the wonderful ‘Let The Great World Spin,’ (yet another novel I had long avoided because everyone else was reading it), the tale of hookers and immigrants and judges and housewives woven around my current favourite NY legend, Philippe Petit, aka the Man on Wire.

Across the US I was accompanied by Stephen Fry, (in a rather silly road trip), which contrasted drastically with one of my favourite books this month, ‘State By State,’ in which 50 writers, artists and celebrities, (from Anthony Bourdain to Joe Sacco, Dave Eggers to Carrie Brownstein), were allocated a state each and allowed to represent it anyway they wanted/knew how, resulting in an unpredictable but incredibly informative and entertaining 500+ page guide to the USA.


I read a couple of bad books this month, (the Bayard, mainly), but the worst book was also one of the best: my friend Nick has been recommending immersive journalist Bill Buford to me for a while, and I finally took the plunge with his ‘Among The Thugs,’ the story of how he became accepted into various football hooligan organisations in the UK during the 1980’s.

This was the time when I was first attending matches in England, and later abroad, and I both recognised the atmosphere of hostility and sectarianism whilst being left open-mouthed at the toxic politics and sheer aggression which I luckily rarely saw first-hand, and which was reported graphically, horrifically and, somehow, poetically, by Buford. A literary ‘This Is England,’ for those who saw and loved/hated the movie/TV show.

Finally, I fell asleep several nights in a row reading the unclassifiable Thunder & Lightning by Lauren Redniss: part art statement, part green manifesto, part science textbook, part myth and legend, part story-telling, all beautiful.



Books Bought, February 2017

Lost For Words (Edward St.Aubyn)

Wimbledon Green (Seth)

The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)

A Load Of Hooey (Bob Odendirk)

One Hundred Apocalypses (Lucy Corin)

Further Joy (John Brandon)

The Annotated Sandman: Vol.I (Neil Gaiman)

The Annotated Sandman: Vol.II (Neil Gaiman)

The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountain (Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell) x2

The Call Of Cthulhu And Other Weird Stories (H.P.Lovecraft)

McSweeney’s No.28

The Wisdom Of The Myths: how greek mythology can change your life (Luc Ferry)

The Familiar: Vol.4 (Mark Z.Danielewski)

A Literary Tour Of Italy (Tim Parks)

Coming In To Land: selected poems, 1975-2015 (Andrew Motion)

Number 11 (Jonathan Coe)

Beyond Measure: the big impact of small changes (Margaret Heffernan)

A Really Good Day: how microdosing made a mega difference in my mood, my marriage, and my life (Ayelet Waldman)

How To Be Bored (Eva Hoffman)

Norse Mythology (Neil Gaiman) x2

Havana: a subtropical delirium (Mark Kurlansky)

How To Choose a Partner (Susan Quilliam)

American Gods (Neil Gaiman)

On The Origin Of Sports: the early history and original rules of everybody’s favorite games (Gary Belsky & Neil Fine)

Trivium: the classical liberal arts of grammar, logic, & rhetoric (various)

Quadrivium: the four classical liberal arts of number, geometry, music, & cosmology (various)

Sciencia: mathemetics, physics, chemistry, biology, & astronomy for all (various)

Martin Luther King, Jr: the last interview and other conversations

The Mathematics Of Love: patterns, proofs, and the search for the ultimate equation (Hannah Fry)

The Art Of Stillness: the art of going nowhere (Pico Iyer)

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide To The Cat (Joel Morris & Jason Hazeley)

The 13 Clocks (James Thurber)

The Liars’ Club (Mary Karr)

Lincoln In The Bardo (George Saunders)

Sag Harbour (Colson Whitehead)

SPQR: a history of ancient rome (Mary Beard)

Pour Que Tu Ne Te Perdes Pas Dans Le Quartier (Patrick Modiano)

Mortality (Christopher Hitchens)

Museum Legs: fatigue and hope in the face of art (Amy Whitaker)

The Member Of The Wedding (Carson McCullers)

An Anthropologist On Mars (Oliver Sacks)

After Dark (Haruki Murakami)

Kafka On The Shore (Haruki Murakami)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)

Memórias De Mis Putas Tristes (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Pnin (Vladimir Nabakov)

Bend Sinister (Vladimir Nabakov)

King, Queen, Knave (Vladimir Nabakov)

The Luzhin Defence (Vladimir Nabakov)

Glory (Vladimir Nabakov)

Travels With Epicurus: a journey to a greek island in search of a fulfilled life (David Klein)

Gratitude (Oliver Sacks)

The Intuitionist (Colson Whitehead)

Numbers In The Dark: and other stories (Italo Calvino)

Albion (Allan Moore)

Mannahatta: a natural history of new york city (Eric W.Sanderson)

A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

Lonely Planet: Portugal

Galápagos (Kurt Vonnegut)

The Enchanter (Vladimir Nabakov)

The Cross Of Redemption: uncollected writings (James Baldwin)

Bicycle Diaries (David Byrne)

Why We Work (Barry Schwartz)

The Future Of Architecture In 100 Buildings (Marc Kushner)

Mr.Bridge/Mrs.Bridge (Evan Connell)

McSweeney’s No.2

Patience (Daniel Clowes)

Pussey! (Daniel Clowes)

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, 1969 (Allan Moore)


Books Read, February 2017   (books in bold are highly recommended)

Thunder And Lightning: weather past, present, future (Laura Redniss)

Wrestling With Moses: how jane jacobs took on new york’s master builder and transformed the american city (Anthony Flint)

The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountain (Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell)

Among The Thugs (Bill Buford)

How To Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: on the importance of armchair travel (Pierre Bayard)

New York In A Dozen Dishes (Robert Sietsema)

How To Be Bored (Eva Hoffman)

How To Choose a Partner (Susan Quilliam)

State By State: a panoramic portrait of america (ed.Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey)

Martin Luther King, Jr: the last interview and other conversations

Beyond Measure: the big impact of small changes (Margaret Heffernan)

Stephen Fry In America (Stephen Fry)

Museum: behind the scenes at the metropolitan museum of art (Danny Danziger)

Let The Great World Spin (Colum McCann)

The Mathematics Of Love: patterns, proofs, and the search for the ultimate equation (Hannah Fry)

Albion (Allan Moore)

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide To The Cat (Joel Morris & Jason Hazeley)

We Need New Names (NoViolet Bulawayo)

A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry)

Go Set A Watchman (Harper Lee)

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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in BOOKS


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