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).

Continue reading The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald (1949)

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.)

Continue reading Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

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.

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

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1952)

Better than illicit sex. Honey on toast. Chocolate and beer.

Maybe not chocolate and beer.

Sweet is the unputdownable book in which sod all happens.

…life was like that for most of us – the small unpleasantnesses rather than the great tragedies; the little useless longings rather than the great renunciations and dramatic love affairs of history and fiction.

Thriller writer Raymond Chandler said if you’re ever stuck on what happens next, get someone to walk in with a gun in their hand.

Well, Pym’s self-effacingly unattached protagonist Mildred Lathbury does it with a pot of tea.

Continue reading Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1952)

As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1599)

Your favourite bit, aside from the boinging Cupid have mercy!, the clichéd all the world’s a stage, and that gloomy Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything?

Mine’s got to be the frisky rat-tat-tat of love-struck cross-dresser Rosalind’s quick-fire questions.

A little game I like to play in my Lilliputian upper storey is, if she was addressing me (Cupid have mercy!), what would be my one-word answer? If I was her bosom buddy (Cupid have mercy!) Celia, that is.

Let’s remind ourselves of that randy ramble.

Continue reading As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1599)

Adrian Mole The Cappuccino Years by Sue Townsend (1999)

Jeepers, need nappies for this one.

With more great lines than the movie Scarface, this book is chronically funny. Do not eat peanuts while reading.

They say that great lines can make you fart with laughter.

Well.

Anyway, let’s focus on Ms Townsend’s particular talent in plying the three big no-gos of punctuation.

Continue reading Adrian Mole The Cappuccino Years by Sue Townsend (1999)