Monday, August 11, 2008

Zeppelins over Glasgow

I am too lazy right now to read back through the 2008 archives round here and see if this statement is hyperbolic or simply the truth, but I think I have read my favorite book of 2008 so far: or at any rate it's in the top 5 with Richard Fortey's Dry Storeroom No. 1 and Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and we will leave the other couple for now unspecified.


It is Martin Millar's Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me. It is a work of utter genius and considerable grim hilarity, so that I was laughing out loud as often as every couple of pages. It is a short book, composed in short chapters, about the weeks leading up to the night of the 4th of December, 1972, when Led Zeppelin came to play in Glasgow. Martin Millar is just as funny as Charlie Williams and Cintra Wilson, my two other particularly favorite not-as-widely-read-as-they-should-be funny novelists...

It is slightly unexcerptably hilarious - the funniness has something to do with the unrelenting deadpan voice continuing on from page to page. But here's a bit I liked from very near the end, narrator Martin discussing his progress on the book with depressed best friend Manx (who has just shoplifted a Buffy and a Xander doll from the display they are looking at in a comic shop in Oxford Street):
"I'd like to buy all these Buffy dolls and play with them. I'll have time on my hands soon, I've almost finished the Led Zeppelin book. I'm at the 'nice and big' stage."

"What's the 'nice and big' stage?"

"I go through the text making sure I haven't used any long words. If I find any fancy adjectives have crept in I replace them with small words like 'nice' and 'big,' I've liked these words ever since I was told not to use them in English class at school. After that I check that the sentences are short so as people won't get confused and I shorten all the chapters so they won't get bored. I can't read anything complicated these days, my attention span is too short. Everyone else probably feels the same."
NB I had many years of making this sort of effort with my writing, only I have given in to the undoubted fact that my natural English is a highly elaborate one that only thrives in the medium of unusual words and unexpected and slightly baroque sentence structures. Realistic self-assessment! I would be the other kind of writer if I could choose, but I am not...

Other light reading around the edges: Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (as delightful as when I read it the first time); Robert Crais, The Forgotten Man; Elizabeth Bear, Blood and Iron; and Susan Hill, The Vows of Silence.


  1. I have this one on tap to read in the next month or so - and Dry Storeroom should be with me shortly (I'm waiting to get it from Powells). I am also, as you know from my site, deep in Murakami running love.

    I swear, I'm sometimes forgetting where your recommendations end and mine begin!

  2. I'm late to this post, but I had to concur on the writing of Martin Millar. I've just read his Good Faeries of New York and Lonely Werewolf Girl back to back and love both.