The Most Excellent Historie of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare (1600)

Your favourite bit, aside from But love is blind, and lovers cannot see and All that glisters is not gold?

Mine’s got to be, apart from Portia’s acidic I’d rather be married to a death’s head with a bone in his mouth, Gratiano’s Let me play the fool: with mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

But hark, I sense a need for one more touch.

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A Drink with Shane MacGowan by Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane MacGowan (2001)

I’ve always had Shane down as simply drunk as a brewer’s fart.

This book, a chat over drinks with his wife Victoria, brings out some of the kind, human, down-to-earth, honest and very Irishly funny qualities of the lead singer of The Pogues (and former member of the Nipple Erectors).

Lynn Barber, in The Observer, says of the book, ‘One of the freshest, most original biographies I’ve ever read.’.

Some morsels for you on sex, drugs, marriage, and definitive Irish nurturing.

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The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1596)

Your favourite bit, aside from O, she doth teach the torches to shine bright! and But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

(I love Willy when he does the puppet word shadow order thing – okay, okay, I’ll keep practicing – remember that delicious Though hast by moonlight at her window sung from A Midsummer Night’s Dream a couple of posts back?)

Mine’s got to be the nurse dealing with the big sleep. But first it would be unfair not to bow to the boys who land some lovely love lines. Take Mercutio.

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The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald (1949)

How does he do it? How does he make you turn those pages, rapaciously reading? And what’s hidden in his noir style that gives it that compelling impetus?

Let’s remind ourselves of the definition of ‘noir’. ‘A genre of crime film or fiction characterised by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.’

No wonder I like it so much.

So what’s under the bonnet? Let’s have a look at a couple of style tools from a couple of the books in the 18-book Lew Archer series (The Moving Target being the first).

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Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

With the prolapse a little less livid, I’m able to sit still long enough to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

Don’t worry, you can open your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

It’s an OCD’d glossary bringing together the Looking-glass book containing Jabberwocky that Alice finds when with that wacko the White Knight, and the compelling definitions of the words in the first verse of the same poem given later on by that cocky fancy-pants Humpty Dumpty. (I think he was pushed.)

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (1595)

Your favourite bit, aside from knowing a bank where the wild thyme blows, Methought I was enamoured of an ass, and My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones?

Mine’s got to be, apart from Oberon’s joyfully puerile And loos’d his love shaft smartly from his bow, pissed-off and indignant papa Egeus whinging about his daughter Hermia being courted by the relentless Lysander.

Sit back and enjoy wonder boy Lysander in action. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

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