Three books on the go right now.
I'm nearing the halfway point of Philip Roth's recent (I say recent - it's *six* years old...how time flies!) novel, The Plot Against America.
It's a kind of SSGB for the US - or, put more simply, a kind of SSUS, I suppose. In Roth's book, history takes a different turn as the 1940 US presidential election is won not by FDR but rather a Nazi sympathising, proto-Fascist uber-hero; the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Scary stuff ensues as the fictional, non-interventionist US diverges further and further from the principles of its founding fathers. No echoes of the contemporary there then...
For the British reader I suppose the nearest equivalent would be waking up in a parallel universe in which the Labour government many of us so joyously celebrated the election of in May 1997 soon turned out to be as corrupt as the day is long - dishing out honours for cash and legislating to the whim of the highest bidder, pursuing the Thatcherite project of privatisation more vigorously than even TBW* herself had ever dared, widening the gap between the richest and the poorest in our society to an unprecedented degree and duping the electorate into sending our troops to become mired in two lengthy, intractable, unpopular, possibly illegal and ultimately unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). Thank heavens for fiction, eh?
I also picked up Barry Miles' London Calling: a countercultural history of London since 1945.
Miles was the co-owner and founder (with Marianne Faithful's then fella John Dunbar and [I think] Peter Asher - Dickster will know...) of the Indica bookshop and gallery; home of The International Times and eventual meeting place of John & Yoko. A confirmed townie - passing them atop a Green Line bus, he used mentally to obliterate the open fields and trees of his native Cirencester and replace them with terraced houses - Miles is a groovy guide to the city's bohemian nooks and crannies. Not sure if it's everyone's cup of tea, but if you feel remotely enriched by the discovery that the artist Francis Bacon used to brush Kiwi boot polish through his hair and polish his teeth with Vim before a night out or find the following as hysterically funny as I did, it might well be the book for you:
Sod, known during the war as 'the bugger's Vera Lynn' for her drinking club catering to gay servicemen, liked to lie on the divan naked, sleeping off her morning intake of gin while Anne [Dunn]'s Australian fruitbat hung upside down above her, squirting everything with jets of diarroah.
Ah, the glamour of it all.
Lastly: from the ridiculous to the sublime. The fairer half and I went dutch on Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights and an excellent purchase it has proved to be.
Full of tasty morsels, delightful amuses bouches (whatever that is) and handsomely illustrated with a selection of glossy and easy to wipe plates, it's a must for every home that has a kitchen in it. Apparently there are some recipes in there too...
Right, I'm off to watch Eduardo confront his demons at St. Andrews.
Up the Arsenal!
L.U.V. on y'all,
*TBW: That Bloody Woman. There is a ruder version, but I'll spare my younger readers that for now...