Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: December, 2013

Murder in Mississippi

Not sure why I picked this up – I think I heard John Safran talking about it on the radio, and it sounded sort of cool. The blurb from the publisher’s website is thus:

When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi’s most notorious white supremacists. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.

At first the murder seemed a twist on the old Deep South race crimes. But then more news rolled in. Maybe it was a dispute over money, or most intriguingly, over sex. Could the infamous racist actually have been secretly gay, with a thing for black men? Did Safran have the last footage of him alive? Could this be the story of a lifetime? Seizing his Truman Capote moment, he jumped on a plane to cover the trial.

The book explains some of the back story about how he came to meet Richard Barrett during the filming of Race Relations (the segment never went to television, because John Safran can be quite a naughty boy at times, and well, he may or may not have done some shonky business with a DNA sample). It follows John’s search to find out what actually happened to Richard Barrett and most importantly, why. It’s really very interesting and not totally what I expected. (I am partial to a spot of crime and death after all, although I don’t normally read True Crime). Still wasn’t 100% sure what the motivation was at the end of it, even whether the guy did it or not, and definitely wasn’t sure that he deserved 65 years of gaol as a punishment. Wasn’t hugely comfortable about John Safran paying Vincent McGee to talk to him, but I suppose he wouldn’t talk any other way, and I don’t really think John Safran was totally down with the endless paying, either.

Reading Murder in Mississippi actually made me quite uncomfortable, and made me even more aware of the casual racism that’s pervasive in Australian society in general; and how it’s so ingrained that the perpetrators aren’t even aware that there’s something wrong with what they’re saying (driving along the foreshore on Christmas Day – “Let’s play ‘Spot the Aussie'”. Um, no. Let’s not. And guess what, seeing families out enjoying themselves together and enjoying each other’s company isn’t actually a bad thing. Nor is seeing a bunch of young girls in burqinis cacking themselves laughing and having the best time ever in the water with their friends in the sun.) Especially when you call someone on their language, and they still can’t see there’s an  issue because they’re not being nasty, that’s just what they always say. And not twenty minutes later, same thing over again. Everyone gets shoved in their box based on their country of birth or their parents or grandparents country of birth and that’s all there is to it, and they won’t be reasoned with. Ever. And as for those dole bludging sole parent whale hugging tree lovers. Well.

 

 

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Oh Mr Reacher….

“Never Go Back” by Lee Child is the 18th (I think) book about Jack Reacher, who is a honkin’ great giant of a man – 6’5″ tall, a true mesomorph muscle man (and totally NOT bloody Tom Cruise. I don’t care.). He travels America with a folding toothbrush and not much else.

And he manages to get into all manner of pickles and up to even more shenanigans. This one’s no exception – but seriously, not sure how on earth he manages to a) get into so many scrapes and b) stay out of gaol for longer than five minutes; because quite frankly, he goes the whack first and asks questions later. In “Never Go Back”, he – well – he goes back. To Virginia to meet the woman who’s now doing the job that he did because he quite likes her voice and her conversation.

Now, there’s not a lot to say about the Jack Reacher books, primarily because they’re really a bit same-y same. Jack Reacher arrives in a new town on the bus, whacks a few people, shags a nice lady, gets a lift with some old codger and gets out of town in the nick of time, then hops on the bus and arrives in a new town where it all starts again. This one is really no exception, although there was a lot less whacking compared to some of the others, and about a samey amount of shagging. The story was a bit thin, although it did get him to race about the country a bit more than he normally does. Think Amazing Race with more biffo.

Anyway, it was indeed a cracking yarn, I did work out a couple of the little side plots that were pretty obvious, in a “HA! I knew it!” kind of way. Jolly good holiday read that one. Easy on the brains, and no real intellectual effort required. Just what the doctor ordered after a long hard day of work where a lot of thinky is involved. So if you’re after a bit of mindless biff with a spot of reasonably discreet shagging… yeah. Read it. And try not to think of Toothy McTootherson.

 

Hmm.

“The Bone Season” by Samantha Shannon seems to have engendered mixed feelings among most people that read it. They either love it with many hearts or are all ‘meh’, ‘huh’ or tl;dr. I’m not actually sure how I felt about it. I felt as though I’d started reading something part way through – book two of a trilogy or something; like there was a whole lot of back story I was missing, but there was a lot of back story in the book. Maybe by the time I get to the end of this I will make up my mind.

It’s about a future England, where people with clairvoyant (‘voyant’) powers are treated as criminals and sent off to special prison type things every ten years to be looked after (sort of) by a group of aliens called Rephaim who used the voyants to fight off yet another kind of alien (confused yet?). It apparently all started with King Edward who actually was Jack the Ripper, and there was a whole lot of probably important but mainly confusing information that was padding, but vital at the same time. There’s URST, there’s confusingly archaic slang, a cast of thousands (some of whom didn’t seem to play any part in the story)… there’s alien weirdness and dystopian futures that are sort of plausible, but sort of really plausible at the same time.

No, I don’t think I am going to rein in my confusion about this book at all. In fact, I am probably doing my damnedest to put everyone OFF it completely. But don’t be misled by my confusion. I actually really enjoyed it. I looked forward to reading it, and even had a lay in so I could finish it this morning. I couldn’t work out who the book was aimed at, though – was it young adult? Was it fantasy geek nerds? It was like Divergent meets The Hunger Games with a soupcon of Enders Game and – part of me even thinks Starship Troopers (book not fillum, and that could just be the bugs)

So, read it. Tell me what you think. See if you can end my confusion before the next book in the series comes out and I have to read it too. The author is very young, maybe the next book will be um. Tidier. I think.

EDITED TO ADD…

Ok, still thinking about this and did a spot of googling and consulted Mr Wikipedia (so you know this must be true) as to why the names of the Rephaim rang small, tinkly bells somewhere in my subconsciousness. Rephaim – old Hebrew for giants or denizens of the netherworld. And the Emim – the other ‘bad aliens’ in The Bone Season – Well, Emim is the name for the lands where the Rephaim lived.

Curious.

(This little snippet may have been covered off after the endless pages of glossary. I shall have to investigate further.)