Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Booked in

First up, I'm currently reading:

Development as Freedom

Main argument - development needs to be about increasing the freedoms of people, not just their happiness or their economic wealth.

It's hard going but not because the argument itself is difficult. He must have a bet with Rawls over who can best obfuscate a concept. If he wanted to say something like 'dead people aren't free' he'd write "Unfreedom may be the result of the absence of corporeal manifestation". When you make the easy THAT opaque, you need to bang away at every blatantly obvious point to ensure the poor reader gets it before their brain implodes. But at least (in the words of the irreplaceable Harry Flashman who I'm also currently reading) - after he's mounted the point, he just gives it a good old cavalry-style gallop about the room. Rawls vigorously rogers the same point over fifty pages and numerous positions until it's exhausted, sweaty and quivering at the salute.

Before this I read:

Britons: Forging the Nation

Central thesis - British identity was not created from similarities between the English, Welsh and Scottish but because of their (perceived) differences from the Catholic French. The resulting patriotism allowed women an excuse to act in civil society and mobilised the masses. This, in turn, contributed to the Reform Act of 1832. Ok, it's a bit more complex than that. Having read Britons I became interested in reading...

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

Which I'd got for £1 with The Times a while ago. At the time, I thought "Who the deuce is Georgiana when she's at home?" but reading Britons convinced me she was a spunky proto-feminist bint who'd campaigned for Charles James Fox during a by-election in 1780 something. An Amazon customer review for this book reads:

'A must if your passion is 18th century by-elections... we are treated to the minutiae of Whig politics when what are are really waiting for (maybe!) are the steamy details of Georgiana's affair with Earl Grey.'

Oooooh, goodey, I thought, being a political anorak who IS interested in 18th century by-elections. Then suffered through endless pages of her relationship with her husband, Elizabeth Foster, her children and other members of Whig high society (the 'Tup')... Her drug taking, gambling debts and affairs would have been entertaining had the writing not been as dry as the Namib desert during a hosepipe ban. If she'd attended an S&M orgy involving nude mud-wrestling it would have been described as: 'On 17th May, Georgiana attended an orgy in Kent. The next day, she received some creditors demanding the sum of £6,000'.

And finally I read:

Foetal Attraction

Isn't my usual sort of book but was part of a ten-piece fiction pot-luck from 'The Book People'. I haven't read all ten yet but the ones I have aren't worth mentioning. The Business wasn't (I've forgotten it already) and Five Days in Paris should have been named Five Minutes of Cliched Boredom.

Foetal Attraction is billed as a 'wicked and hilarious take on motherhood and romance' but it would have been a far better book had she left out the girl-boy sh**e. Dumping the leg-crossingly painful pregnancy bits would have also been a good move (and not just as a service to the UK birth rate). This is because her dinner party scenes are VERY, VERY funny. I'm hoping it's not a satire on the behaviour of real people or I'd be EXTREMELY WORRIED. But it looks from LibertyCat and I's exchange here that the broadsheet weekend supplements may be representative of the behaviour of some of the right-on, Grauniad-reading, rich London literary intelligentsia... so bagsie me as the first person under the table in the fallout room. Read it and cringe.

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