The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I have a confession to make, I’m a first time reader of Julian Barnes, bought this book by its cover (well, I clearly knew who Barnes was), yet I had no clue what and who it is was about – and I was so friggin’ impressed. This is likely the best book I’ve read recently, and by far.

A novelized biographical story about Dmitry Shostakovich, a small time Greek tragedy delivered in three acts, pondering on the relations with the Power and its great carnivorous Helmsman Iosif Vissarionovich, then with the Cornbob vegetarian Nikita Sergeevich, on cowardice, internal insecurity, irony, fear, self-reprimand, and despair by one of the most revered Soviet composers of the past century.

Beautifully written, well composed, and definitely built to withstand the grinding noise of time. I’m impressed.

Манарага Владимира Сорокина

Не самая мощная книга Сорокина, но все ж ничего, эдакий короткий типический для автора фантасмагорический экзерсис на тему конца литературы, Fahrenheit 451, рукописи горят и все такое. Вспышки и всполохи тревожного будущего. Тьфу-тьфу-тьфу, лишь бы большинство его предсказаний не сбылось, ох.

Конец оживляет, отличный, да. Now, where are my fleas?


В полночь самолет ждет дозаправка в Санкт-Петербурге, красивом городе, построенном царем Петром на костях русских крестьян. Блоха сообщает, что крестьян в то время целыми деревнями сгоняли, вываривали в огромных котлах, кости дробили, мололи в муку, добавляли образовавшийся во время варки клей, гальку и получали так называемый русский бетон. Из этих бетонных блоков сложен фундамент Санкт-Петербурга. И надо сказать, город стоит до сих пор.


Millennium People. A Novel by J.G.Ballard

A poet of the perverse, sad, twisted and deranged, the late J.G. Ballard is a genius – well, in my scorecard he is. This post-millennium and even post 9/11 Chelsea suburban anarchy novel is a gulp of fresh air, sharp, thought-provoking, full of perennial wisdom quotes.

Chelsea Marina burns, as its middle class residents of law abiding salariat of lawyers, doctors, accountants and university professors gradually turn into radical arsonists, gallery bombmakers and indiscriminate murderers. Finding the meaning of life in acts of meaningless violence and cruelty, a revolt against nothing, nil, zero, zilch.

Brilliant and just as thoughtful as as a much earlier Crash. I just long to see this one in a camera frame – and preferably, directed by David Cronenberg.

“I'm a fund-raiser for the Royal Academy. It's an easy job. All those Ceos think art is good for their souls.”

“Not so?”

“It rots their brains. Tate Modern, the Royal Academy, the Hayward… they're Walt Disney for the middle classes.”


Демонические женщины Леопольда фон Захер-Мазоха

Сборник коротких рассказов-новелл австрийского Тургенева из Львова, конечно, слабее его романов. Некоторым, в силу их краткой длины, не хватает глубины, резкости, объемности “длинного метра” Захер-Мазоха, они остаются мимолетными историями, пересказом, кратким содержанием, чуть поверхностным, в них нет волны переживаний и эмоций Венеры или Душегубки.

Наиболее выдающиеся два рассказа, на мой вкус, – это Подруги и Женщина-сирена, оба в более нежном, нервном, открытом, игристом стиле. Романтизм 19 века в прекрасной форме, можно читать и сейчас. Что-то можно даже разобрать на цитаты.

Ну и, в любом случае, Venus is calling.

Лодка проплыла совсем близко, и дама, точно сошедшая с библейской картины итальянской школы, повернула голову. Дэлер увидел бледное интересное лицо, с энергичным маленьким орлиным носом и большими черными горящими глазами.

– Это принцесса К., – шепнула Цецилия.

Когда лодка отплыла достаточно далеко, Дэлер заметил:

– В свое время она, по-видимому, была хороша.

– Она и теперь хороша! – воскликнула Цецилия. – Женщины сохраняют свою красоту до тех пор, пока не перестают одерживать победы.


The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh

Good lord, let me start with a friggin spoiler – the dumb of me, I didn't pay attention to the cover, I didn't read the summary on Amazon – so man, I nearly jumped at the end of chapter five. Cause damn, it's not yet another US novel by Irvine Welsh, no sir – it's a FRANK BEGBIE novel – God, who could've thought.

Overall, as Welsh's prose typically is, it's a fast read pulp fiction novel, spanned between California and Edinburgh. Filled with archetypical rage, hatred, violence – but also totally shows Welsh (well, Begbie) getting old, reserved, treacherously double-faced. Breathe, man, breathe, one, two, three

The finale, with all the knives and chisels, is somewhat like a ball gag scene from Tarantino – but despite all that, the book lacks something. It just needed more – story, drama, action, well, I dunno what. And it sure as hell left the page open for a new Renton sequel. I'm in, always!

Read my first Welsh's book in 1996. 20 years have past, everyone chose life, and sadly, no-one got a bit younger. And yeah, Decent Ride was much funnier.


A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh

A good funny read from Mr. Irvine “Scotland-moved-to-Miami-and-then-came-back” Welsh.

As it's quite typical for Welsh to reuse and expand his old characters, this is now a third book about “Juice” Terry Lawson, a rough and cynical fellow from both Glue and Porno novels – and, to tell you the truth, I'm quite sad that I seem to remember very little from both of them. Need to re-read Glue one day anyway.

So as I was saying, the story revolves around Terry, who is mid-forties, works as an Edinburgh cab driver and, surprise-surprise, still acts as a true insatiable ladies man. Sex, drugs and rock'and'roll – and sex again.

Then, suddenly enough, the story of Terry charges its course – it becomes the epitome for aging and getting a bit more sad and mature at the same time. I couldn't but felt that Mr. Lawson caught up some of Irvine Welsh's own nostalgia of getting older – a former poet of Leith skag and casual youth, Welsh now writes about the same very folks, but 25 years older, 50 pounds heavier, and with a bad ticker on a brink of an imminent heart attack.

And then, miraculously enough again, it comes back positive again in the end. But no spoilers, eh, no spoilers.

PS: It's not yet available in the US, only comes out in Feb next year – so I had hit the shelves in the UK store of Amazon instead.


Everything’s negotiable. As ah eywis say: fuck off means naw, naw means mibbe, mibbe means aye n aye means anal. Guaranteed!

Ah’ve goat a bookcase wi some books Rab Birrell lends ays which ah nivir fuckin read but ah keep tae impress the student burds. Moby-Dick, Crime and Punishment, that sort ay shite. That Dostoyevsky cunt, ah tried tae read um but every fucker hud aboot five different names, n ah left the scheme tae git away fae aw that! Too fuckin right.

The Dead and the Dying. A Criminal edition by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Part three of the Criminal series is a beautiful three-part story told from three different angles.

Ed Brubaker's storytelling gets better by each part, it seems. Coward was ok, Lawless was good, and this one even better.

No point retelling the storyline here, though. Never saw a point in that.