Showing posts from November, 2009

Unseen Academicals and the meaning of sport

There's nothing like a hardback book to make you wonder: "what's the point of hardback books?". They're more awkward to use and less portable than paperbacks, they take up more than their fair share of space, and they're expensive. They're grandiose relics, like stately homes in a world designed for suburban semis, except you don't even get a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake when you stump up for a hardback book.

They'd be harmless, though, if it wasn't for the hardback-exclusivity of new books. This actually depresses total book sales, at least from me, because the media review books as soon as they come out, but if a review actually convinces me to buy, I then have to wait up to a year for it to come out in paperback, by which time I've forgotten all about it. And unless it makes the Waterstones 3-for-2, I'm unlikely to chance across it again. Nice work, publishers!

The one advantage to hardbacks is that they are impressive. They…

The Card

After the feast, the wafer-thin mint. Arnold Bennett's The Card is just as funny as A Fraction of the Whole and its mood is refreshingly upbeat.

I picked up The Card on a visit to Didsbury with Mrs Tomsk at the start of summer. We stopped off at a tearoom that not only did a mean sausage sandwich, but transitioned seamlessly to a second-hand bookshop at the back. This is what heaven must be like, presuming God is a tea-loving bookworm.

One thing the holy high street would not stand for, however, is political posturing. The bookshop side was at first glance unthreatening, even welcoming. But the European election campaign had begun, and the proprietor was not discreet in his affection for the UK Independence Party. Posters and leaflets were everywhere, all inevitably featuring the 1953 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. I wonder if he would appreciate his presence in a bookshop being reduced to flicking V-signs for the greater glory of UKIP.

The proprietor, of course, can d…