My favourite author

Gold by Dan RhodesHere’s a question for you – Who’s your favourite contemporary author?
Who do you rush out and buy/or put a hold on – in the sure knowledge that their genius is going to work for you?

Mine is Dan Rhodes. I’ve only mentioned him here once before, as he wrote about the underrated virtue of brevity in fiction.

I picked up his first book Anthropology and a hundred other stories off a book shelf in the central library – totally a case of judging a book by its cover (small, powder blue, stick figure). It looked cute, and it was – 101 stories of 101 words. It could be gimmicky, but the stories were so clever and bittersweet I became a Dan Fan.

MisadventuresSince then, he has written another book of stories, and two novels. The latest is Gold which has a background of pub quizzes (hooray!).  His web site is a good insight into his wit and drollery.

Looking at his literary recommendations I was spooked to find he name checks two of my other favourite books namely Misadventures by Sylvia Smith and The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. What is the common thread that links these authors? Humour, humanity, a sense of the ridiculous, dryness, ingenuity, idiosyncracy, beauty … (and sized at around the 200 page mark).

Check out his web site and the pretend pub quiz where you can win pot noodles and a copy of his latest book (I scored 7/10 – how’d you go?).

Avast there ye swabs!

hornGrowing up in an age where there were precious few teenage novels, what could an avaricious male reader devour in those tender years? Well, I and many others, loved the Hornblower novels of C.S Forester. Our love was increased by the stirring film with Gregory Peck and James Robertson Justice.

Now following the T.V. series all the novels have been re-issued in a handsome package and after nearly thirty years I’m loving them once more. Much of the technical stuff still goes over my head and maybe they could benefit from one of those maps that tell us where a mizzen mast or for’castle is situated (but your fingers would only get sore from flipping backwards and forwards!).

The main character is a far more complex character than I remember and the French far more perfidious, but the books are as gripping as ever.  All have a helpful  number to indicate what order in which to read them and they’re far more readable than the works of such pale imitators as Patrick O’ Brian or Bernard Cornwell; the latter providing a useful introduction to each of the novels.