"Men of few words are the best men." - William Shakespeare, King Henry V, Act III, Scene II

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reading Between The Lines (#1)

Welcome to the first of a (hopefully) regular "Reading between the Lines" series where the QMBC aim to serve up a variety of alternative book-covers and contrarian-elitist literary images inspired by titles from the Library of the QMBC and further afield. 

Our first effort is kicking it all the way back to QMBC IV with the pastiche below based on ... actually pastiche is too strong ... more a nod of the head to Stieg Larsson's uber-popular Millennium Trilogy.

As an aside, the seeds of inspiration for this masterpiece came to me many years ago while watching the now forgotten Celtic Kung-Fu classic "Crouching Cider, Hidden Flagon". The plot involves a young Cistercian monk from Westmeath, who stumbles across an ancient recipe for an ambrosial cider that bestows upon those who drink it, a mastery of "The Shenanigans" - a mysterious martial art known only to the little people. Top-class wire work is on display throughout and hilarity often ensues as the sozzled monk single-handedly routs Cromwell and his army, all the while indulging in his desires for hare-coursing and of course trollops.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Currently Reading ...

Galileo's Dream 
Kim Stanley Robinson

In a novel of stunning dimensions, the acclaimed author of the MARS trilogy brings us the story of the incredible life -- and death -- of Galileo, the First Scientist. Late Renaissance Italy still abounds in alchemy and Aristotle, yet it trembles on the brink of the modern world. Galileo's new telescope encapsulates all the contradictions of this emerging reality.

Then one night a stranger presents a different kind of telescope for Galileo to peer through. Galileo is not sure if he is in a dream, an enchantment, a vision, or something else as yet undefined. The blasted wasteland he sees when he points the telescope at Jupiter, of harsh yellows and reds and blacks, looks just like hell as described by the Catholic church, and Galileo is a devout Catholic. But he's also a scientist, perhaps the very first in history.

What he's looking at is the future, the world of Jovian humans three thousand years hence. He is looking at Jupiter from the vantage point of one of its moons whose inhabitants maintain that Galileo has to succeed in his own world for their history to come to pass. Their ability to reach back into the past and call Galileo "into resonance" with the later time is an action that will have implications for both periods, and those in between, like our own. By day Galileo's life unfurls in early seventeenth century Italy, leading inexorably to his trial for heresy.

By night Galileo struggles to be a kind of sage, or an arbiter in a conflict ...but understanding what that conflict might be is no easy matter, and resolving his double life is even harder. This sumptuous, gloriously thought-provoking and suspenseful novel recalls Robinson's magnificent Mars books as well as bringing to us Galileo as we have always wanted to know him, in full.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

QMBC XII: Letters From My Windmill


Letters From My Windmill
Alphonse Daudet

O'Neills, Suffolk Street, Dublin.
23rd August 2011

One Sentence Summaries

Xavier Paddington: Is reading LFMW in English a bit like looking at a photocopy of a Monet painting and commenting that it's a bit fuzzy?

Tiger McGavin: Reviews from my mind will say it's a poor man's Dracula.

Atticus McCarthy: Aesop's fables 2.0

Carl Jameson: This will continue turning over in my mind for many years to come.

William Clay: Do the people of Camargue actually like the book?... Daudet? (Doubt it?)

Whitby Syme: Someone looking for excitement in this book will find themselves tilting at windmills.

Mycroft Webb: LFMW: I've been Moulin this over for awhile, and I like it.


Tiger McGavin: 40/83
Actioness: 3/13
Well Writteness: 9/13
Sexiness: 3/8
Quincey Morrisness: 2/10
Interestingness: 10/17
Unputdownableness: 13/22

Atticus McCarthy: 34/83

Interestingness: 9/15
Quincey Morrisness: 3/15
Actioness: 2/10
Execution: 10/20
Unputdownableness: 6/10
Discussableness: 7/13
Forgetableness: -3

William Clay: 40/83

Carl Jameson: 56/83
Sexy goatness: 8/10
Quincey Morrisness: 6/10
Interestingness: 7/10
Food for thought: 10/20
Well Writteness: 10/13
Aftertaste: 15/20

Mycroft Webb: 58

Whitby Syme: 47/83
Plot: 10/20
Execution: 11/20
Characters: 15/20
Food for thought: 5/10
Extra points: 6/13

Xavier Paddington: 46/83
Quincey Morrisness: 4/15
Interestingness: 10/20
Well Writteness: 9/20
Unputdownableness: 15/20
Food for thought: 2/8
Random bonus points: 6 (for nice warm feelings)

Letters From My Windmill earned a QMBC rating of 45.85 / 83.


William Clay
- The Affair by Lee Child

Whitby Syme
- Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

Tiger McGavin:
- One Shot by Lee Child

Atticus McCarthy
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Mycroft Webb
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Carl Jameson
- Outpost by Adam baker

The Voting

One Shot200----100300
The Kid Stays in the Picture300-300---600
Galileo's Dream--100300100300800
The Reluctant Fundamentalist--200-200-400
A Confederacy of Dunces-100-100300-500
The Affair-300----300

Next: Galileo's Dream
Nearly: Outpost

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rules of the Quincey Morris Book Club

" A book club without a set of rules is not a book club" - Tiger McGavin (QMBC) - 2009

Some organisations and societies thrive in lawlessness, where rules are but suggestions and penalties for disobedience are non-existent. The QMBC is not one of those societies, the QMBC is not France. It is true, the QMBC have some French qualities, we are partial to wine and cheese, are occasionally malodorous and have little problem urinating in public whilst cursing in a lassez-faire style, but that is where the similarities end.

The members of the QMBC pride ourselves on our order, our efficiency, our cold heartedness in the face of book club chaos. Rules are what make us strong, therefore, without further adieu, here are the 24 rules of the QMBC.

1. At the end of each meeting each member suggests a maximum of 2 books for the next choice, giving their reasons for choosing them.

2. A book previously read by a gentleman, cannot be nominated by said gentleman.

3. Nominations are to be written down in advance, and cannot be changed.

4. A nominated book that is already included in another members QMBC Quotient can be vetoed by the member who has fully read that book if the member so chooses.

5. Once all suggestions are heard each book is discussed in turn, during which the nominator cannot add to their original argument in favour of their nomination. The books are whittled* down in a democratic fashion until one remains.

6. The un-written rule, which needs to be neither explained nor written, must always be upheld with dignity and honour. The penalty for breaking the un-written rule is a severe poor show to be recorded and passed onto the disgraced member. Furthermore, all votes cast by such a member will be void for the duration, past and present, of the meeting in which the offence too place.

7. “The person who wins wins not next time” is false and is rather “the person who wins wins next time fortasse”

8. Members cannot discuss the current book before the official QMBC meeting takes place

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mycroft's Poetry Corner ... Galway Kinnell (#1)

I will begin at the beginning, because to begin anywhere else would seem to me to be wanton post-modernism and I would have it known that Mycroft Webb (QMBC) will have no truck with that sort of feeble-mindedness.  

It was a particularly foul July evening, the type of evening that any Irishmen worth his salt will have become inured to from early childhood as a result of their frequent occurrence in high summer; the type of evening best viewed with disdain from one's favourite barstool, or in my case, favourite leather Gladstone armchair.     

I had just enjoyed a hearty supper of kedgeree and boiled eggs, all washed down with a pint of coffee and a unspecified number of Tunnocks' teacakes. It has always been a peccadillo of mine to enjoy what are considered (by lesser appetites) to be breakfast dishes after the evening Angelus has chimed. But I digress. 

I can't tell for sure whether is was the caffeine or the large tumbler of Laphroaig that I was drinking while ensconced in my favourite anthology of poetry but something unknown gave spark to the tinder of an idea, which in turn became a nascent flame that slowly started to crackle and roar into an inspired blaze with additional tumblers of whiskey. It was so simple, I was embarrassed for not having thought of it beforehand: Add a Poetry Corner to the QMBC website. Fucking Genius. 

However, little did I know then, that the question of who or what should be the subject of the first QMBC poetry corner was to become a considerable burden to me in the coming weeks. That evening I was reading W.H. Auden, marvelling as I always do at the wonderful complexity of his "Shield of Achilles" in much the same way I imagine that the peasants in the armed hordes besieging Troy would have admired the walls and edifices of that great city. "No, No, No, Mycroft", I thought. You know the kids today care not a jot for the Classics they want something sexier, something modern ... 

Enter Galway Kinnell, an American poet born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1927. He is still alive but is now retired; he is widely regarded as one of the most important American poets of the second half of the 20th Century.

More importantly though from a QMBC point of view, the man and his work have much to recommend him, as he handsomely combines images from modern-life and timeless natural imagery with wonderful lyricism. In his poem below, "Last Gods" he seems to gather all his poetic gifts and creates one of the few genuinely erotic poems out there. It is hard not to like a man who pays such homage to the female form in one poem while being more of a family man in "After Making Love, We Hear Footsteps" and never seeming to take himself too seriously as evidenced in his very funny poem "Oatmeal". Galway AbĂș!!

The Last Gods is shown below but the other poems mentioned are all available online, as always, the QMBC recommends that where available you seek out the poet's own readings of their poems as these are often far better than any third-party interpretations.  

Last Gods 
Galway Kinnell

She sits naked on a rock
a few yards out in the water.
He stands on the shore, 
also naked, picking blueberries.
She calls. He turns. She opens
her legs showing him her great beauty,
and smiles, a bow of lips
seeming to tie together 
the ends of the earth.
Splashing her image
to pieces, he wades out 
and stands before her, sunk
to the anklebones in leaf-mush 
and bottom-slime--the intimacy
of the visible world. 

He puts a berry in its shirt
of mist into her mouth. 
She swallows it. 
He puts in another. 
She swallows it.
Over the lake
two swallows whim, juke, jink,
and when one snatches
an insect they both whirl up
and exult. He is swollen
not with ichor but with blood.
She takes him and sucks him
more swollen. He kneels, opens
the dark, vertical smile
linking heaven with the underearth 
and licks her smoothest flesh more smooth. 

On top of the rock they join.
Somewhere a frog moans, a crow screams.
The hair of their bodies
startles up. They cry 
in the tongue of the last gods,
who refused to go,
chose death, and shuddered 
in joy and shattered in pieces, 
bequeathing their cries
into the human mouth. Now in the lake
two faces float, looking up
at a great maternal pine whose branches
open out in all directions 
explaining everything.