Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Under Orders. By Dick Francis

Under Orders

Dick Francis

Berkeley Books, 2006

  Yawn! I don't know if its just me, or whether Dick Francis (like, say, Alistair Maclean, or even PGW) really wrote badly in his later years. This book is one of the last, I suppose, before his son started writing with (or for) him. Anyway this book has the usual indestructible hero, the usual nasty villian, the usual scene where the hero comes back from a seemingly hopeless position to violently turn the tables on the villian, the usual lovely, wonderful girl friend of the hero, etc. All these elements used to be attractive in his earlier books, but not any more. I think I should just stop reading Dick Francis.

PS. I just reread my earlier post on another Dick Francis. I had even then concluded that I should stop reading Dick Francis. But still I read this one. Maybe after a few months, I'll be ready for the next one! 

Made in America. By Bill Bryson

Made in America

Bill Bryson

Published in 1998 by Black Swan. First published 1994.

      Not a travelogue, or even a Brysonian look at American culture, as I thought it would be when I bought the book. I was misled by the blurb, which is a little ambiguous, especially if read quickly, as I did while browsing in the bookshop. This is more or less a list of words and phrases in the English language that have an American origin. The list however is arranged in a roughly chronological fashion, with lots of notes or background stories taken from history and culture. This throws up a lot of trivia, many which debunk the commonly held beliefs regarding the events themselves, or about the words and phrases the events lead to. I read this book while on holiday in the US, but I found no real resonance with what I saw around me. Though surprisingly readable for what is really a kind of etymological dictionary, finally the book is a bore, with too few pleasurable moments for the amount of effort spent on it. I skipped quite a few paragraphs and sections.