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Book Review: by Lang Reid
The Books of 2006
many of the Pattaya Mail’s correspondents have given us their
choices/momentous occasions from 2006, it is not too late for me to give you
my impressions of the books of the year.
Actually this was a very difficult task, as there were many categories of
books reviewed during 2006. Information manuals, who dunnits, thrillers, in
fact the whole gamut of the Bookazine shelves.
I will not keep you in suspense, such as Stephen Leather’s “Cold Kill” (ISBN
0-340-83412-9, Hodder and Stoughton), did so masterfully, but my ultimate
pick for the 2006 book of the year was not even published in 2006, but was a
re-release in hard cover, and was Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly
Everything”, (ISBN 0-385-60961-2, Doubleday Books).
Bryson has a wonderfully irreverent way of looking at things (“nearly
everything”) even pontificating as to the spread of syphilis in a monastery
in Hull or telling the reader about the Geology professor who had to run a
curio shop to keep bread on the family table, while he continued, unfunded,
to work out a method to date rocks. Pick up the book and open anywhere and
you will be amused, entertained and edified.
If you have the smallest spark of interest in how we (homo sapiens) got
here, or how ‘here’ evolved into what it is today, then this book is for
you. Bryson makes even the driest subjects enthralling. He devoted three
years of his life to do this. It is worth a few days of yours to read it.
The review copy had an RRP of 1550 baht. Expensive I know, but worth every
baht for a lifetime of information. Buy it for your children (as well as
Another book with a similar vein of humor running right through it was “The
World According to Clarkson” (ISBN 0-141-01789-9, Penguin Books). Adjectives
such as acerbic, sharp, cutting, caustic, acid, and more in that poison
chalice, can be used to describe Clarkson’s chapters.
The French, the Germans and the Basques all cop their (un)fair share of
Clarkson’s rapier. In one wonderfully massive hit out at the goddess of PC,
he writes, “It might be useful too, if we could find a universal butt for
European wit. We have the Irish, the Swedes have the Norwegians, the Dutch
have the Belgians and so on. What we need is a universal whipping boy so
that jokes translate smoothly.” At B. 395 it is a very cheap book of laughs.
A book with droll black humor was “Chart Throb” from Ben Elton (ISBN
0-593-05750-3, 2006, Bantam Press) a weighty paperback dealing with the
television industry and the so-called stars of the medium. The black humor
runs non-stop through the book. Quiz contestants being described as
“Damaged, hopelessly inadequate, almost certainly drug addicted borderline
mental case who had lived an appalling life of deprivation and abuse.” And
while it is humor, and black at that, it still accurately shows what goes on
behind the scenes in television.
Finally, The Ambassador’s Wife, (ISBN 974-93750-8-4), written by Jake
Needham, gave the reader a classic ‘who-dunnit’ which will keep you turning
pages, and keeps you guessing to the end. A great read.
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