Archive for the ‘books’ Category

RIP J G Ballard, author of “The Atrocity Exhibition”

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

J G Ballard was 78 and had apparently been in poor health for some time. He died today.

I’ve never read “Empire of The Sun” nor ever been particularly attracted to it. But his early writing is outstanding. I’m particularly fond of “The Atrocity Exhibition” (a book I discovered by being a fan of Joy Division and wondering where they got that title from), “Crash” (which is far far more interesting and stimulating than the dreadful film which totally missed the point!), “Myths of the Near Future“, “Concrete Island”…

I liked his experimental styles, his brashness, his willingness to mix current affairs topics with speculative futures, the psychological themes and pushing the forms of fiction. A big influence on Jeff Noon and Will Self, I’d suggest.

So I’m off to reread some favourite stories from “Myths of the Near Future“.

Buy them from amazon: The Atrocity Exhibition: Annotated (Flamingo Modern Classics), Myths of the Near Future, Crash

Why aren’t books all the same size?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

It’s frustrating, it really is.

Why do publishers make books all different heights? Are we so anti-conformity that we can’t agree on a single size (or a few sizes) for books. Is that too, like, communist or something?

OK, here’s my problem. After a year and a half in the new flat, we’re finally getting round to sorting the books (somewhere in the region of 2000 between us!). We have a wall of shelves and want to arrange the books in some sensible order eg. alphabetical for fiction. But this too often means a row of short paperbacks with one or two oversize books in the middle. Which means the shelves have to be further apart: a waste of space. Now if all the books were the size of the smallest, we could get a much higher density of books which would be more efficient.

I don’t like hardback books anyway. They won’t fit in a coat pocket. They’re uncomfortable in bed. And I hate those dust jackets and usually throw them out immediately – shocking to some people who regard this as part of the book and not just some worthless packaging. But trying to keep a dust jacket in place while reading the book is frustrating beyond words.

With hardback books being out of fashion now, publishers still want to make a bit more cash on the first print run and often publish large size paperbacks, which isn’t really much better.

Still, it’s rare for a book to come out that I can’t be patient and wait for the smaller format.