Worth noting, I think, that I actually finished reading a book last night. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It was gripping and inspiring and so evocative that when I saw Capote I felt I’d been inside the Clutter house where the col-blooded murders took place. The attention to detail is now commonplace but must have felt like a whirlwind in the early 60s when it was first published.
That leaves the following books half-read
Manhood by Australian psychologist Steve Biddulph has now moved up to be my default train read. It’s about the crisis in masculinity caused by decades of feminist progress. Biddulph rightly celebrates the reversal of patriarchal society and the emancipation of women, but asks us to spare a thought for the bloke, especially post-New Man. He is, according to this book, a worthless shell, reduced to sperm donor by the advances of female sexuality and made to feel a “creep” thanks to the low, pornographic nature of the mass media. Also, deficient fathering, caused by a crisis in confidence after the pre-war industrial model collapsed, has resulted in generations of boys with no self-respect or direction, reduced to posturing and violence. He certainly doesn’t excuse these actions, but he at least tries to mend the cracks by encouraging men to talk to their fathers, to appreciate that women are not always right, to address the thorny issues of lust and arousal and identify what’s causing them, and so on. It’s a page-turner. It was reading Oliver James’ They Fuck You Up that led me down this road. I’ve never been that big on psychology before, but I’m being sucked in.
Guns, Germs And Steel by Jared Diamond was a recommendation Steve Punt made to me at Christmas. He sold it well. It’s a thick one, but then it is a history of humankind, with particular reference to why certain societies developed at different speeds to others, putting the Europeans in a position to go and exploit South America, Africa etc.
Big Pharma by Jacky Law promised much, but isn’t delivering. It’s a fascinating area – how the pharmaceutical companies are making us all ill – and it appeals to the health conspiracy theorist in me, but this book needs such a major edit. It’s bitty and all over the place; it lacks a through-line. The sentiment and the research are there, but it’s not gripping me, and it should be, which is why it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the pile.
Hitler by Ian Kershaw. Let’s just say I’m always reading this. I haven’t dipped in for a while, and I feel disloyal about that, as I’ve loved it so far, but I will return. (I managed Simon Sebag-Montifiore’s Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar in one go.)