Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “banned books”

Whodunit or chicklit? I can’t decide

Cold to the TouchCold to the Touch by Frances Fyfield

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this book. I find it difficult to say much more about it. It’s crime fiction of a sort. The protagonist is a middle-aged courtesan who plays amateur detective, but Miss Marples or Hercule Poirot she is not. There’s a murder, but it’s not a murder mystery in the sense that the author leaves clues lying around for the reader to pick up. The protagonist solves the crimes by her brilliant intuition by a process that is opaque to the reader, and left me feeling “So that’s whodunit. So what?”

I wonder if this is really an example of the genre known as “chicklit”. When I look at Good Reads’s “compare books” function I can see that I score pretty low on appreciation of chicklit. So I think I’ll steer clear of Fyfield in future, unless I’m really desperate.

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Banned books return to shelves in Egypt and Tunisia

Like many other people, I’ve been wondering which way the “velvet revolutions” in Egypt and Tunisia were going to turn. In some places, like Iran, the overthrow of the Shah brought a regime with greater repression. In Egypt the army is now (or one could say still) in control, but there are some straws in the wind that give hope:

Banned books return to shelves in Egypt and Tunisia | Books | guardian.co.uk:

Anecdotal reports are also emerging of once suppressed titles appearing for impromptu sale on street corners and newspaper kiosks across Egypt. Salwa Gaspard of joint English/Arabic language publisher Saqi Books said accounts in the Arabic press told of books that had been hidden for years in private basements now once more seeing the light of day.

Cairo is also to hold a book fair in Tahrir Square – the focus for protests against former president Hosni Mubarak – at the end of March, according to Trevor Naylor of the American University of Cairo Press bookshop, which is based in the square. Naylor told the Bookseller that the event had been planned in the wake of the cancelled Cairo Book Fair, which was abandoned in January in the face of growing political unrest.

Let’s hope the wind keep blowing in that direction.

Some Zimbabwean exiles have been calling for Egyptian-style demonstrations there, but so far there is no evidence of such things.

In the dark: book notes

In The DarkIn The Dark by Mark Billingham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A run-of-the-mill crime novel.

A pregnant London police officer is on maternity leave, and her boyfriend, also a police officer, is doing things that have little relation to his everyday duties. I found the first hundred pages, which set the scene, rather dull, and at several points contemplated abanding the book. But then the story picks up and becomes more interesting as one gets involved with the remaining characters. To say uch more would give away too much of the plot.

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New health and safety lunacy: banning books

It seems that in the USA they are planning to ban children’s books published before 1985, on the ground they they might, just possibly, contain too much lead.

New federal law bans children’s books printed before 1985 – National Civil Liberties | Examiner.com:

Until 1985, it was legal for trace amounts of lead to be used in the inks and paints used in children’s books. But the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (PDF), which went into effect February 10, bans the sale of any children’s products containing more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead, no matter how unlikely it is that the items will feature at a toddler buffet. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has ‘clarified’ the issue with contradictory guidance that has thrift stores and even libraries disposing of mountains of books published before the magic date — and hoping that a stray copy of The Wind in the Willows doesn’t bring down the wrath of the regulators.

Is this the law of unintended consequences, or health and safety concerns gone mad? Ot is it censorship “for your own good”?

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