Down and Out in Paris and London

25 10 2011

I have just finished reading Down and Out in Paris and London, the true story of George Orwell’s time living in poverty in the capital cities of France and England.  The book provides vivid tales of working when he could in the worst hotel jobs in Paris, and surviving as a tramp in the doss houses of London.

The true story is full of great characters and humourous moments despite the poverty, but you never really get the feeling that Orwell is truely in poverty, rather that he is living on the edges of it.

I am a massive fan of Orwells 1984 and Animal Farm, and this is a good way of seeing what formed the 25 year olds ideas in later life.  I would give it a read if I were you.

Sorry its short, but my head is full of cold and if I wrote anymore it would be rubbish.

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The Dark Tower (Contains spoilers)

6 10 2011

I am now over half way through Stephen Kings Epic “The Dark Tower” series of books.  I have read the first 4 and I can’t make up my mind whether I really like them or not. There are parts of them that are superb, and parts that I really am not keen on.  But I suppose you will always get that when you are talking about 4000 pages of text.  If you intend to read these books, probably don’t read any further.  I will try and keep this as generic as possible, but some spoilers will be unavoidable.

I first heard about them this summer with rumours of a film trilogy and TV series and I thought the idea sounded good.  Luckily I managed to pick up the complete set of 7 books at a car boot sale for £3.50.

The story takes place in a world that has “moved on”, where once powerful civilisations have crumbled and the Gunslingers, peacekeepers and warriors have all but died out.  The first in the series introduces the rader to Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger on his search for the mythical Dark Tower and following in the world of the Dark Stranger.  Along the way he meets Jake, and 11 year old from Our world who had died here but arrived there. On their journey through some dark tunnels, Roland has to make a choice and sacrifices the life of Jake to carry on with his search for the Dark Tower.

Stephen King himself says that The Gunslinger isn’t the best introduction to the world he has created and I agree with him, I really didn’t get into the story, but I did with the second book, “The Drawing of the Three”.

This starts with Roland maimed and distraut on a beach after the death of Jake and a tangle with some giant Lobster type creatures.  The Gunslinger travels along the beach and comes across 3 doors, which lead him to New York and into the mind of a people to become his companions the Junkie Eddie, and the schizophrenic Detta/Odetta, as well as meeting the man who killed Jake in our world and pushed Odetta infront of a train removing her legs and leaving her in a wheelchair.  Roland uses the man for what he wants and then brings him back to the beach where he is killed by the Lobstrosities.

So we move on to book 3, “The Wastelands” where the group or Ka-tet as they are known in mid-world where Jake is reintroduced to the story, promptly kidnapped and then won back by Roland.  Meanwhile, Eddie and Odetta/Detta (now called Susannah) set off in search of the train called Blaine, who turns out to be a psychopath who runs on Riddles.  At the start of Wizard and Glass he challenges the Ka-tet to a riddle contest, which is won by Eddie with a series of bad jokes, but this sets the group on a path towards a glass Palace. 

Along the way Roland tells his back story, through his beginnings as a Gunslinger and first love which firstly sets him on the path towards the tower. When his story is done, the group end up in the sourcerer Martins glass palace, a more macarbe version of the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.

This is a bit of a brief run through of the 2500 pages that I have read so far.  I’ve had to take a bit of a break from reading The Dark Tower though as Its all I seemed to be doing.  I will start again after a couple of books, but I think it needs to settle in my brain first and everything seems to have blurred into one. 

I am looking forward to reading the final 3 books, because I really want to find out what is actually happening.

One criticism of Stephen Kings writing is that he uses the word “Apt” far too much.  In his stories, people are always “apt to do things”.  But still, if you sell as many books as him I guess you are able to do whatever you want.