The Fry Chronicles – Stephen Fry

April 26, 2012 at 13:31 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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One always looks for a lighter read on holidays, so whilst we were away visiting family in the UK, I read the second installment of Stephen Fry’s autobiography, which covers his life from university through to him establishing his early career in comedy and on TV.

And it rattles along as you’d expect; the use of language is sublime and Fry can certainly tell a wicked anecdote. Add to all this show-biz luvvie-ness a good dollop of self-doubt and some self-esteem issues, and we start to get some measure of Fry – he presents himself honestly, although at times his hand wringing does get a little much. Still, it’s a fun read and hard to put down – just the ticket for some light holiday reading.

I read this book on a kindle, my first experience of using a dedicated e-reader. And I have to say it was marvelous; I am a convert. Much easier than a ‘real’ book, and the screen really is easy on the eye in the way reading books on my phone or a tablet  is not. However, I do have a gripe; does no-one proof-read digital editions? I was reading the official version downloaded from Amazon onto their own reader, and yet scattered through the text are issues with ‘funny’ characters – unusual punctuation or superscript characters rendered instead as gobbledegook. Surely publishers should take more care with their digital editions, and do more than just download the text into an e-book format and hope for the best?


Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

November 7, 2011 at 20:16 | Posted in books | 1 Comment
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I recently finished reading Defoe’s classic ‘Robinson Crusoe’. This is the first book I have ever read in its entirety in e-book form; I read about half on an iPad, and half on my phone. This was in part to see how it felt reading on a screen, and in part just convenience; reading using my phone was something I could do whilst rocking Baby Chillikebab II to sleep.

For the first part of the book, I really got quite irritated with the character of Crusoe; he is far from sympathetic. He vacillates between endless hand-wringing about his inadequacies and pompous expositions of his prowess.

Still, once you get into the book a bit more it does start to rattle along; it is quite an adventure story that does prompt you to keep turning the (virtual) pages; however irritated I got with it still wanted to see what happened next.

Of course, it reflects eighteenth century sensitivities; a time of imperialism, colonialism and slavery. There is undoubted racism in the book; both in the way the native cannibalistic ‘savages’ are portrayed, and also with regards to the Spaniard Popists. However, there are quite significant passages where Crusoe reflects if there is a need for God, the positive character of some Catholics compared to English brigands and even wonders about his right to judge the actions of the ‘savages’, given that their actions come from a wholly alien value set that exists within its own moral framework. It actually comes across as if Defoe could be planting seeds in his readers minds on these issues and asking them to think in a different way, even though in the end conventional order is maintained with the primacy of God and the Englishman re-established. I daresay greater minds than mind have pondered whether Defoe’s intended message is in those heretical passages, or whether they are just there to shock and titillate the reader before a comforting re-assertion of the natural order.

The book ends quite abruptly; abruptly enough that I also downloaded ‘More Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’, in order to find out what happened next…


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