A merry Christmas to everybody!

A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!

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Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

I know this makes me some kind of ignoramus, but reading Shakespeare feels like reading code, it’s English but not as we know it. Add my instinct that it’s been fetishised, weaponised to exclude all but the few, and I can’t help feeling outside, the way slang privileges a niche group.

The Border Reiver by Nick Christofides

Feels like a Tory take on class conflict.

There’s a class conflict at the heart of the plot that reminds me a little of Terry Nation’s seventies virus thriller “Survivors”. Nation’s bad guys are all working class union leaders, imposing their collectivist ideas on the middle class survivors of the apocalypse.

Christofides takes a similar tack, as we follow his salt of the earth landowner, battling to protect his family against the ruthless socialists imposing their land reforms, and trying to steel his ancestral home.

I’m not entirely sure how any of this links to the Border Reivers, other than the location of the story. For me the reivers analogy stretches thin under the weight of contemporary political reality. When the riding families were active, raiding across the border lands of Northumberland and Cumbria, they fought and feuded, murdered and robbed, to survive harsh conditions. They were organised and ruthless, the mafia before the mafia was a thing, demanding protection from raiding, taking hostages and extorting ransoms. As likely to take up arms and fight for the King as against him. From the things I’ve read on the subject the reivers were less the lone wolf and more of a pack animal.

All of that aside, it’s a well written thriller that keeps you reading, and I liked it.

The Wych Elm by Tana French

Stephanie Merritt reviews The Wych Elm by Tana French, calling it “a forensic examination of privilege”. Anything able to unpick privilege has my attention.

The Pulp Magazine Archive

Pulp magazines or “pulp fiction” refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The Pulp Magazine Archive contains hundreds of titles, and thousands of editions. Looking at any one of them is like going back in time.

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