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Red Riding

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I first heard of David Peace a couple of months back. Knowing none of his work to date I grabbed an eBook of Tokyo Year Zero because it a) had an okay cover b) tickled my bimonthly obsession with Japan and c) was available as an eBook. It was okay – stylishly written, by which I mean occasionally incoherent and hard to follow, and a slightly different look at post-war Tokyo that tied in with the Kurosawa movies I’d been watching around the time.

So, it came as a bit of a shock to me when all of a sudden he’s thrust (back?) into the limelight as the writer of the Red Riding quartet and Michael Sheen‘s latest impression-vehicle, The Damned Utd. Startled that this author I’d never heard of seemed to be a lauded crime (and football) writer, I decided to seek out the Red Riding books and see what the fuss was about.

In classic Billy organisational fashion I missed the TV films of the stories and only just got round to grabbing 1974, the first book, chivvied into action by a 3for2 book offer that only had 2 other books that piqued my fickle interest. I decided to have a start on 1974 shortly after I got home and propped myself up in bed on Monday night to get a few pages read before sleep. I finished it last night, about 24 hours later.

I don’t read all that quickly any more, and generally restrict my book perusal (excepting comics) to my daily commuting along with a quick glance before bed, but 1974 grabbed me a little more than anything else recently, and I had to knock it on the head last night. It’s far from a nice book, being involved with the grubbier side of journalism, police brutality, murder and general human nature, and it’s far from conventionally written, with chunks of flashback and stream of consciousness that add a layer of atmosphere and confusion to the story. However, it works and works well. It’s a much easier read than Tokyo year Zero, although that is damning with faint praise, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end and see what, why, who and why?

Anyways, I went for a wander at lunchtime and am now loaded down with the next three in the series. I don’t think I’ll be running for The Damned United or the next book in his Tokyo series, but my pile of Bob Shaw and Ballard books will sit quietly beside my bed until this stack is done. There’s not been many series that have done that to me recently.

Comments

Comment from se71 se71
Time 17th April 2009 at 8:46 am

Intrigued – I’m adding 1974 to my Amazon wish list. The only book recently that has had me so enthralled was “Old Man’s War” by John Scalzi which I finished last night.

Bob Shaw is great – have you read “Who Goes here?” AKA “Warren Peace”.

I see “Report on Probability A” in the sidebar – that’s a weird one.

Comment from billy
Time 17th April 2009 at 9:24 am

I’m working my way through the Bob Shaw collection – I grab them every time I find them in secondhand shops. Got ‘A Better Mantrap’ and ‘Fire Pattern’ on the stack at the moment.

I understand the Old Man’s War thing – I know a bunch of people who’ve dissed his books, but I rather enjoy them and will be picking up Zoe’s Tale at some point. I have Ghost Brigades and Last Colony sitting on my desk at the moment after getting them back from people I’ve leant them to.

Report on Probability A is slow going, hence being relegated to the reading back burner. I think I’m going to have to start it again sometime. Maybe.

1977 isn’t as readable as 1974, his style has definitely turned towards the more difficult side of things similar to in Tokyo Year Zero, but is still very good – I reckon I’ll have it finished by this evening, making it 2 books in 4 days, which is rather quick for me these days.

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