I reckon anyone who can speak with authority on the Middle East always sounds brainy.

From:   'S'
Date:    Tuesday, February 19, 2002 12:58AM
To:     'J'

Hi Little Brother,

My new year’s resolution was to read 5 books this year. I realised at the end of last year that I had not read a book ALL year, much to my shame and embarrassment, could blame toddlers, chasing moles and full time jobs but that wouldn’t cut it – I was just slack.   I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so would like to read a mixture of classics and smart books, like what you does Mr Learned Man.  So please, if you will my little book worm, furnish me with a list of 5 books that I should read. I’ve started The Hobbit so will mark that down as one.

  1. The Hobbit

Thank you my darling.

I saw The Lord of the Rings on Saturday night and I just loved it hence the Hobbit. Yes, yes I know how banal I am.


From:   'J'
Date:    18 February 2002 10:16PM
To:     'S'

Ooh, let me see, what have I read lately?  (Been a bit crap myself on the reading front lately.)

Umm, I really liked “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison, that’s a GOOD BOOK. And “Sex Toys of the Gods” by Christian McLaughlin was a good trashy read – a romance in disguise, really, but set in the early 90’s and packed with homos and has-been pop-stars. It’s a bit filthy in bits. I read it in one day, so let that be a guide.

If you wanna read something “serious” and of literary merit, I recommend “Journey to the End of the Night” by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.  He’s the father of black comedy.  It’s long and as bleak as all hell, and kind of difficult in places too, but it really stays with you afterwards. It’s pessimistic and misanthropic but like I said, it really stayed with me. If that’s too much for you, read Sartre’s “The Age of Reason”, that’s good too. Don’t be scared off, it’s not philosophy, it’s fiction.  He only wrote about 4 novels I think, but they were all great (except for “The Reprieve” if you ask me – stream of consciousness shite). And if you like that, then ‘The Thiefs Journal” by Jean Genet is a good follow-up. He was French as well (at least one of your books has to be French). He was a thief and a prostitute and a bum and stone-fuckin’ crazy. His prose is kind of hysterical, but again, it sticks with you. Of these three though, I’d probably go for “The Age of Reason”.

“Borstal Boy” by Brendan Behan is a classic too, read that. It’s funny and shocking and the whole gamut all that, but it’s about a 16-year-old kid busted for possessing explosives for the IRA, so you might not like that it’s a sympathetic (but BALANCED) portrayal of an IRA soldier. It’s a cracking book, but.

There you go, that’s at least four recommendations.  But that’s only fiction – what about non-fiction?  (And I’m NOT talking about mother-fucking self-help books, a pox on them ALL!) I reckon you should buy a small book that sets out to explain in an easy to understand format something like conflict in the Middle East from after WWII to now. I say this because that’s something I’d like to read. I reckon anyone who can speak with authority on the Middle East always sounds brainy, and really, that’s all that we want in the end, innit?

4 thoughts on “I reckon anyone who can speak with authority on the Middle East always sounds brainy.

  1. Oh if only he could be here now. To be among the droves of people (like me) who went out and purchased Kindle eBook readers from Amazon only to later realize that the electronic verson of books was almost the same as those printed on paper. Oh what a waste of money now that most of us realize just how much we now miss the experience of paper.

    I must agree with the part about self-help books. This genre is notorious for stating what is almost guranteed to be blatantly obvious to any human being with a damn brain. Yet for whatever reason, fancy well-designed book covers hook us into buying thus crap just to read about that which we already know.

    What I should do is write a bestseller called, ‘The Sky Is Blue and 101 Other Things You Already Know’.

    I have a feeling that your brother and I would have gotten along just great.

    Liked by 1 person

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