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A slightly disjointed weekend, bookended by ousfg events - The banquet on friday night (including an ill-advised twic vs. Tristam deathmatch at the postbanquet party) and my election as beard on sunday (I shall humbly serve this office to the best of my abilities, etc, and if that means growing a beard, then dammit, that's what I'll do) - and filled in between times partly by texting the shadow that was gathering in the north, but mostly by reading David Mitchell's frankly staggering Cloud Atlas. And redesigning the calendar, but that's a work in progress, and may involve altering the orbit of the earth. For now, all you need to know is that you should PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MOON. Anyway, there are many, many things to say about Mitchell's book, but my top three at the moment are: one, that it's a masterclass in how to write first-person fiction; two, that thanks to the matrioshka structure, it's the only novel I can think of for which the description 'it is 34.03% science fiction' is both accurate and fair; and three, that it induced the Guardian reviewer to use the word 'snarky'. Then this morning brought the news, relayed by brassyn, that Lord of the Rings made a clean sweep of it at the Oscars; "I'm so honored, touched and relieved that the Academy and members of the Academy that have supported us have seen past the trolls and the wizards, the hobbits, and are now recognizing fantasy" said Mr Jackson, and 'amen' said everyone else. We can only hope that this is more than just an extraordinary circumstance, and that in the future we'll see more genre films with a serious shot at that Best Picture award (and more genre films that deserve that shot).
 
 
 
 
 
 
Am amused by Niall bowing to the pressure to be hirsuit.


Bring it on.
The Telegraph reviewer didn't seem to get on with it at all; but the TLS appeared relatively impressed (I have to admit, I only skimmed the piece, as I'm planning to re-read it properly later).

However, these Big New Novels (as defined by publisher\press) always leave me a bit cold - whenever a publisher states (as the publisher of Cloud Atlas did state, according to a colleague, at the launch party) that a particular novel will win the Booker, and must be read, and is guaranteed to be the most talked about novel of 2004, I clam up. :o)

But I did manage to sell a copy to a lady last week by using that very hyperbole, in a very ironic, salesman-like patter. (She was determined to take a paperback, as she was going to South America; I told her to (a) pack less shoes or (b) make her boyfriend carry it.)
However, these Big New Novels (as defined by publisher\press) always leave me a bit cold - whenever a publisher states (as the publisher of Cloud Atlas did state, according to a colleague, at the launch party) that a particular novel will win the Booker, and must be read, and is guaranteed to be the most talked about novel of 2004, I clam up.

Yeah, it's hard to have perspective - I enjoyed it hugely, but I'm not completely certain that that's not just because I was brainwashed into doing so. I think a re-read may be in order later in the year. :-)
But, then, if you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it, which is pretty important :o) It means it was satisfying.

I'll be interested to see what does happen to it, in terms of prizes, etc.

In other prize news, the winner of the 2003 Commonwealth Prize was unable to find a 'big' UK publisher who would take on its UK publisher, and eventually Tindall Street Press, publishers of Astonishing Splashes of Colour bought it...

The book is The Polished Hoe.
Anyway, there are many, many things to say about Mitchell's book,

The only thing my mum has said about it so far is "Ooh, ooh, have you heard there's a new David Mitchell out! I loved his other two books! I can't wait!". So, it seems my family will shortly be in possession of said book, and that means it'll filter through to me in the next few months.

I spent the whole weekend reading The Lovely Bones, which was astonishingly good. Next up, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, at least, when my sister's finished reading it that is.

I'm on a mainstream fiction binge! Woo hoo!
The only thing my mum has said about it so far is "Ooh, ooh, have you heard there's a new David Mitchell out! I loved his other two books! I can't wait!".

She should use Amazon. My copy arrived last thursday. :-)

(I have the other two but, um, still not read either. They've been bumped up the stack now, though...)

I spent the whole weekend reading The Lovely Bones, which was astonishingly good.

This is the one where the narrator is dead, yes?

(I'm hoping that's not a spoiler.)

I have this crazy plan for an instant_fanzine reading group at the back of my mind...
The only thing my mum has said about it so far is "Ooh, ooh, have you heard there's a new David Mitchell out! I loved his other two books! I can't wait!".

She should use Amazon. My copy arrived last thursday. :-)


My dad's a member of the QPD (Quality Paperbacks Direct) book club. They sell trade paperbacks at cheaper than hardback prices. So they're waiting to get it from there.

I spent the whole weekend reading The Lovely Bones, which was astonishingly good.

This is the one where the narrator is dead, yes?

(I'm hoping that's not a spoiler.)


Opening two lines of book:

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6th, 1973.
So yes, narrator is dead, and no, nowhere near a spoiler.
There shall be a title "Beard of OUSFG''. The holder of this title will be required to attempt to grow a beard.

That's reassuring. I thought you were going to have to date Geneva.

Thought: We need to get Dan to grow one too. All dorkboys beardy simultaneously.

David Mitchell's frankly staggering Cloud Atlas.

Heh. I was reading about this on Saturday in an interview the Big Issue and made a note to ask you about. And you read my mind!
I thought you were going to have to date Geneva.

*blinks*

Uh?

Thought: We need to get Dan to grow one too. All dorkboys beardy simultaneously.

You realise I'm not actually going to grow a beard, right? That would rather go against the spirit of the post.
Beard: A person of the opposite gender dating a gay person so no-one knows they're gay.

I swear I've explained this to you before.

Also: I am coming to steal all your razors.
I swear I've explained this to you before.

No...I think I'd remember that. You and your crazy scottish slang.

Also: I am coming to steal all your razors.

/me hides his razors.

  No...I think I'd remember that. You and your crazy scottish slang.

Er, it's really not Scottish.

We'll be having this conversation in 3 month's time, I bet.
Er, it's really not Scottish.

With Hoggs on this one [1] - I distinctly recall a line on Will & Grace that resembled "He's got a beard - and I don't mean a 'take your mother to the oscars' beard, I mean facial hair!". Mmm, and I'm pretty sure I heard it in a Woody Allen film donkeys years ago.

[1]Sorry, Niall, seem to be disagreeing with you a bit at the moment. 'twill pass.
What a break with tradition! Were there no women about?
Heck, I wasn't even about. Angharad called me up and installed me over the phone.
It was a small AGM.. technically not even quorate, but we all agreed to forget how to count. The four women there were Angharad, me, little Alex, and Laura, all of us ex-beards, except Laura, who's current till Niall takes over. Tim did point out that it might be gender discrimination of we ruled out men too quickly, so we decided appointing Niall had to be done :-)
BTW, has anyone set the precedent of actually growing a beard yet? Is there a reward? :-)