The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – Philip Pullman

Excellent, thought provoking idea. What makes the Christian story persist is also what allows the creation of the Magisterium.

Pullman makes it clear his guns are trained at organised religion, and its emergent characteristics, not in wise moral guidance.

Rowan Williams likes it, although he thinks the Gospels are better (but he’s paid to say that).


A Field Guide to the English – Sarah Lyall

Kate Fox and Jeremy Paxman have both tackled this subject. Fox gets gold, Paxo silver, and Lyall bronze.

Her book has some pleasant enough anecdotes, but she lacks the biting wit of Bryson, and although she likes England well enough, she lacks Bryson’s quirky deep affection for the country and (many of) its people.

Also, she really doesn’t appreciate the pervasiveness of class in English society, and tries to tackle it in a separate chapter, and by doing so fails.

It’s a pleasant enough aeroplane read, but Fox’s book is a lot better.

Of course, The Road to Wigan Pier is the grandaddy of the genre, and is still pertinent, and appears unbeatable.

The Rachel Papers – Martin Amis

Better than that Adrian Mole crap. Worse than Catcher in the Rye.

Did any pretentious spotty gits ever get that much sex? I was spotty and pretentious, but it didn’t help me get my end away.

As usual, some wonderful apercus.