2014: A Year in Books

This is categorically not a list of my ‘best books’ of 2014. Very few of the titles I’ve read in the last 12 months were even published this year. This is simply a list of what I’ve read with no judgement implied (although I strongly maintain life;s too short to read crap books, so by default they’re all pretty good).

With my day-job having moved to a different office, I’m fortunate and grateful that I no longer spend an hour a day on public transport. The downside is that the half hour trip each way to and from work was time I spent reading up to the end of June and consequently, I’ve done rather less reading this year than I would have liked.

These are the books I’ve read, which have informed and entertained me this year, and some will have no doubt had an influence – conscious or otherwise – on my writing.

Ben Jeffery – Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism

Raymond Chandler – Farewell, My Lovely

Jonny Glynn – The Seven Days of Peter Crumb

Ian Rankin – The Naming of the Dead

Henry Sutton – Kids’ Stuff

Aifric Campbell – On the Floor

Gavin Lambert – The Goodbye People

JG Ballard – The Drought

Douglas Coupland – Generation X

Paolo Sorrentino – Everybody’s Right

Samuel Beckett – Three Novels: Molloy / Malone Dies / The Unnamable

Various – Clinical, Brutal 2: Incisive Writing with Guts

Philip Roth – Portnoy’s Complaint

Mickey Spillane – Mike Hammer Omnibus Vol 1: I, The Jury / My Gun is Quick / Vengeance is Mine

Lisa Dabrowski – Dr Sadistic’s House of Whorrors

Martin Crimp – Attempts on Her Life

Chuck Palahniuk – Damned

Malcolm Mc Neill – Reflux

Charlie Wells – Fags and Lager

Beau Rice – Tex

Stewart Home – The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones

Stuart Bateman – Grind

Jonathan Crary – 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep

 

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

2012: A Year in Books

This is not a ‘best books of 2012’ list, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to review or comment on the books listed here (other than those I’ve written reviews for or otherwise commented on, and those reviews can be found here and there and wherever). I spend enough of my life reviewing stuff and spouting opinion: I read for pleasure and research and reference and sometimes purely to learn. Some of the books I read during 2012 were books I had read before (Bukowski’s Post Office and Cunt by Stewart Home) and some of the books I read I enjoyed more than others. Many of them have informed my own writing in one way or another, or may do so in the future. The order they’re listed in is the order I read them in. So here it is, just because: my year in books. Nothing more – but nothing less.

 

Henry Sutton – Get Me Out of Here!

Adam Kotsko – Awkwardness

Jurek Becker – Sleepless Days

Alain Robbe-Grillet – The Voyeur

Marek Hlasko – Killing the 2nd Dog / The 8th Day of the Week

Various – A Dream of Stone and Other Stories

J G Ballard – Cocaine Nights

Chuck Palahniuk – Survivor

Henry Sutton – Bank Holiday Monday

Ian Price – The Activity Illusion

Carl Weissner – Death in Paris

J G Ballard – The Crystal World

Harry Harrison – Homeworld

John Steinbeck – Tortilla Flats

J G Ballard – The Unlimited Dream Company

Terry Taylor – Baron’s Court, All Change

Alain Robbe-Grillet – Repetition

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer – The Dialectic of Enlightenment

Malcolm Mc Neill – The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel

Malcolm Mc Neill – Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook and Me

Supervert – Necrophilia Variations

Colin Wilson – Adrift in Soho

Dire McCain – Raising McCain

Steve Urwin – Tightrope Walker

Charles Bukowski – Post Office

Roger Protz – 300 Beers to Try Before You Die!

Stewart Home – Cunt

Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming – Dead Man Working

Karl van Cleave – Incisions, Collisions and Aborted Missions

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

It’s good to talk…

With a new book forthcoming, a little bit of promotion goes a long way. Stuart, who runs Clinicality Press, suggested we have a chat about From Destinations Set. With the prospect of a couple of free drinks and some free promotional coverage, I wasn’t going to turn the offer down.

The resulting piece, which covers the writing process and the aims of the book, as well as a whole heap of other literary topics and writers who have inspired and influenced Destinations, is an edited, expanded and manipulated historical record of the event. Don’t believe everything you read here.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.

Thoughts, Images, Sounds….

I hadn’t been especially late to bed and had slept reasonably well, at least in comparison to the last two or three weeks. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve not been sleeping well lately. However tired I am, however much or little alcohol I consume during the evening, whether I go to be early or late, whether I have to be up or not, I’ve been waking up consistently a little before five in the morning. Once awake, I lie wondering how long it is before the alarm (the clock isn’t on my side of the bed, and the hands on my old, second-hand, wind-up watch are not luminous). I’m always aware that I’ve been dreaming long and hard, but can never recall any of the details, and more often than not, even the main body of the dream evaporates on waking. All I know is that my mind has been working overtime and I’m even more exhausted on waking than when I turn out the light – or leave it on, along with the television or radio in an attempt to create a background hum that will induce rest. And while Mrs N sleeps soundly through everything, nothing works for me.

So once again I awoke before the alarm and lay, semi-comatose and half-paralysed, too awake to return to sleep, to dopey to get up and commence any kind of constructive activity. It’s a little like anaesthesia, or how I imagine a Ketamine trip to feel. I haul myself out of bed and make myself ready without breaking free of my zombified state.

I open the front door. It’s light, despite being a minute before 7am. The street is bright and empty. I feel on the one hand that Spring really is just around the corner. On the other hand, it’s cold and silent and I feel as though the end of the world is nigh, or, worse still, that the world ended in the night and I am alone in this disconsolate, pot-apocalyptic northern city. Actually, would that really be worse?

Shunning thoughts of the 2012 prophecy to the back of my mind and plugging myself into my MP3 player – not a slick iPod with infinite capacity, but a 2-Gig Alba purchased 3 years ago from Netto – I head townwards with The Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut in my ears.

Walking onwards, ever onwards, and encountering no other pedestian and only a handful of cyclists who speed past me, I kept my eyes open and absorb whatever presents itself. I inhaled deeply and drank in the cool morning, my senses unravelling and my receptors slowly coming to life. The air was cold and clear, the ground dry, a frost on the roofs glinting against the clear sky. A mist hung over the Ouse. The water level was relatively low and the water still save for the occasional ripple of rising fish. Lendal Bridge was reflected almost perfectly, the infrequent cars crossing the bridge also crossing in them inverted version on the water below.

The bus is on time. I take a seat and pull my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary from my bag. I’ve only been reading it for the last three days (and I only get to read in small chunks) but I’m already 30 pages in. The best thing about the bus part of the journey is that I’ve recently discovered that I can read on busses without becoming travel-sick. Two stops on and I’m compressed into half of my seat as some gargantuan, lumbering, fantasy-novel-reading behemoth had parked herself beside me. Her massive bulk occupies a full seat and a half and she’s still hanging into the aisle, her Kindle e-book reader looking like a PDA in proportion to her colossal, hulking frame. She smells, too. I feel nauseous, but fight the gag reflex in favour of soaking in the details of her pungent wet do aroma, her plum-coloured quilted coat, like a giant slippery sleeping bag. I can hear her wheezing even over the sound of ‘Flowers’. It’s painful, awkward and uncomfortable, but I remind myself, ‘this is research’.

For once, I am relieved to arrive at work.

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Order! Order! Book Retailer Defies Logic and Sends OCD Shoppers to the Edge

I’ll admit that I’m prone to extreme pedantry and display many behaviours that are classic traits of the obsessive, the anally retentive. To be honest, I’m fine with that. I have a lot of books, records and CDs, and so storing them in alphabetical order by author or artist makes sense if I want to avoid having to spend hours rooting through haphazard piles of stuff. That I store items in order of publication or release date for those authors or artists I have multiple items by is also helpful, if not quite as essential, and that all of my records are stored with the A-side facing the front and records and CDs are kept with the labels the right way up is simply a preference. In a world where have very little control over anything, it’s comforting to maintain a sense of order in those aspects of my life where it actually benefits me. I choose the alphabetical by author / artist system because it’s ‘the standard’. Libraries, book stores, record stores… the simple fact id that it makes sense and is based on an indisputable logic.

Yesterday, for something to do and because, since they became a ‘media’ store rather than a music store (CDs now occupy less space than DVDs and are generally receive equal billing to console games), HMV have been known to stock some reasonable cult fiction at generously discounted prices. Burroughs, Palahniuk, Bukowski, Plath; all names I spotted amidst the predictable selection of music-related books, celebrity biographies and populist cack, and all with a decent whack off the RRP.

What perplexed me, however, was the arrangement of said books on the shelves. Stephen King books were interspersed throughout the display, which was some five shelves high and eight to ten feet wide. Burroughs’ The Place of Dead Roads was somewhere in the middle, while Kurt Vonnegut’s Armageddon in Retrospect was on the top shelf on the far left. What the fuck?

It actually took me a little while to realise that the books were arranged alphabetically by title. Apart from biographies, which were placed by order of the surname of their subject. And apart from books about a band, in which case the book’s placing was dictated by the name of the band. And apart from Frankie Boyle’s My Shit Life So Far, which appeared to be amongst the Cs.

On reflection, I suppose that’s probably right.

Of course, this begs the question, why aren’t the CDs arranged using the same system?

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk