Cheeseburger Gothic

The Name of the Wind

Posted March 24, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

I finished a book with great sadness this week. It wasn't a sad book. But I become so deeply invested in it that to finish the last page was like walking out on a relationship. I'll be back, there's a sequel on its way, but… You know. The book was The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, number two in the King Killer Chronicles. The first book in the series was called The Name of the Wind and I picked it up on the recommendation of iPhone traitor, Andy Inatkho. I think he recommended it during Mac Break Weekly.

I was drawn to it for the same reason I was drawn to Stephen King's The Stand as a teenager. Bulk. Value. The Name of the Wind runs for more than forty-five hours and it set me back only one Audible credit. A despicable way to value a book, I know, and yet Name of the Wind is such great value that I'd be doing you, Rothfuss and Audible a disservice if I didn't pimp it out simply on its dollar metrics.

Having got that unpleasantness out of the way, allow me to gush. This is one of the best books I've read in about ten years. Not just one of the best genre titles, or fantasy novels. One of the best books, period. I'll have to qualify this of course, because I listened to rather than reading it, but having listened, I'm going to do something I almost never do and go back and buy myself a reading copy.

The narrator, Rupert Dégas, deserves a special commendation. I don't know how much they paid him, but it probably wasn't enough. He narrates the English edition, and while I understand the American narrator is very good, I just don't know how he could possibly bring the same awesome to a story which is set in a thinly disguised ye olde England. Degas' voice just seems to suit the text. And he is a great voice actor, with hundreds of different accents to draw on; useful given that although most of the book is narrated in the first person, there are hundreds of characters with speaking parts. I'm not exaggerating. Hundreds. Dégas gives each of them a life of their own. I think I miss his storytelling the way a child misses bedtime stories when they have grown too old for them.

But, he did not write the book. That was Patrick Rothfuss, and to him I say props my good man and huzzah. There was so much for me to potentially hate about this book. A redheaded hero, who plays the lute and… Well, that's enough. But Kvothe, the narrator, is also a kick arse magician and a sort of medieval ninja. The long arc of chapters where he acquired his ninja skills, slowly and painfully, was one of my favorites. The story is his biography, in effect, as told to a traveling scribe known as Chronicler. He has apparently done something awesome and terrible and is now hiding out, incognito, posing as an innkeeper in some awful village at the end of the world. Dark forces are gathering, natch. But they're doing it in the background.

Most of the story is concerned with how he got there.Rothfuss is a great writer, is obviously something of an autodidact and these books are so long that he has more than ample opportunity to indulge himself in a little showmanship about how much he knows. It never feels like info dumpage, however, and I came to look forward to these diversions as much as I did to the swordplay and the splodey.

A precis of the plot? It's Harry Potter. A remarkable kid finds out he has remarkable powers and he kicks ass with them. It's way better than that though. There's a beautifully written love interest. Er, for the ladies. And I think the thing that really sets it apart is the time Rothfuss takes to show us everything. Almost as thought we're reading in real time. It sounds potentially eye glazing, but it's not. It's hypnotic. As testimony to how much I enjoyed this novel I'm writing this out before I've finalized my Amazon Associates status, so I can't make any money off recommending it. I can only recommend that you go read it, or listen to it, because it's really that fucking good.

60 Responses to ‘The Name of the Wind’

Barnesm reckons...

Posted March 24, 2013

Patrick Rothfuss so an evil overlord name.

and seriously a lute playing Ginger, this is what you build a protagonist on?

Rupert Dégas was also the narrator in the Movie adapation of the Robert Harris's excellent alternative history novel Fatherland

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beeso mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

Buying it now.

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Bunyip would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

Suitablity for a minion same age/gender as Anna? Asking for a parent that can not keep up with reading habits of tween bibliophile.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

Well, I've had Thomas listening to it. He loves it. There's a second in the second book, where Kvothe spends some time with a horny elf. But nothing graphic. All implied.

Bunyip is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2013

Ta. Sounds like a go-er for the minion then.

MickH reckons...

Posted March 24, 2013

yeah, the minions would love it

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tqft asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

Those books do actually appear on my to buy list which is almost as long as my too read list

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JG reckons...

Posted March 24, 2013

Wow. It must be good, JB. You are practically wetting yourself with glee.

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MickH would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

I actually recommended this book on the burger ages ago.

I've read both and eagerly await the third. Not holding my breath though because he took ages writting the second and had a bad case of writers block.

Since you liked that then I will recommend, for the third time now, The Painted Man by Peter V Brett, the first book in the Daylight War Saga of 5 parts. He's written the first 3.

These book FKN rock! Seriously!

(He just sold the movie right too apparently)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

I'm currently reading it Mick. But I took a break while listening to Rothfuss because it sort of jarred switching between them. Very different writers. Both good, but different.

MickH asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

Yeah I agree with that John, both are at the top of their game but have different styles, different stories but of the same genre. I love that.

These 2 guys are my top authors for fantasy at the moment. Trouble is now I have to wait for next books! :(

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

Exampleof the difference? Right at the start of Brett's latest we see that girl waiting to go up to the temple to see whether she's going to be inducted. And then it's six hours later and she's at the temple. It worls to move the story along. But Rothfuss would have told everything that happened in those six hours and made it an object lesson in philosophy, geography, history and so on. It's that depth and incredible reach that sucked me right in.

MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

hmm have to be careful with spoilers here.Brett develops 6 major characters from childhood but does it at a pace that just wants you to keep the pages turning, the pacing is genious. He also has 2 major plot arcs and no real distinct good guy or bad guy, you can see both of the major antagonists point of view and the resoning behind their actions.Rothfuss on the other hand delevops one major character and everything that goes along with it. But this character is so rich and so deep that he is never boring. He splits the story arcs up along the many things that Kvothe does, his music, his studies, the bad guys, his quest and the strange characters he meets a long the way. The pace is much slower but no less enjoyable.

Two masterpieces in the making.

MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2013

an error here john, I had 'Brett' in the first line as a new paragraph and Rothfuss as a new para also.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

Dear MickH

I have had the same issue with the disappearing paragraph break.

What I think I have done is to hit SHIFT ENTER. That starts a new line, but that line break disappears when you submit.

You have to hit ENTER and the cursor jumps 2 lines to start the next paragraph. If I review what I have typed and I see I have a new line without a blank line before it (auto created by hitting ENTER), I know that line break will disappear when I submit.

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

MickH

p.s. Don't think hitting SHIFT ENTER twice to get your blank line between paras will work. It will be ignored in the submitted version. Just keep your finger off SHIFT, when you hit ENTER. Of course, this key tapping is largely unconscious. I did not realise I was going SHIFT ENTER until I activated by brain's very buggy record function.

MickH puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2013

yep you're right! thanks!

Its because of FB i tell ya! :D

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MickH would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

that was awsome.

But he'd better be back working on book 3 or there'll be hell to pay!

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

I already have it on The Pile of unread stuff. Guess I'd better find me a round tuit ...

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drej swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

I'm a hundred or so pages into Erik Stevensons Malazan Book of the Dead on a recommendation. Hasn't grabbed me so far, anyone know if its worth going on?

Otherwise tempted to give this a go.

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Moko would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

I remember you recommending this a coupla weeks back. Yeah, for 45 hours you can't beat that and to be good? I'm in.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted March 24, 2013

Yeah, I thought of you when I found out how long this bad boy is.

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

I luuuuurved the Name of the Wind. Somehow I never managed to get my hands on The Wise Man's Fear (just the title alone is the AWSM). I'm going to correct that oversight now and get read up so I can sit and twitch until the 3rd one comes out.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

Speaking of amazing fantasy, JB have you read the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher? Utterly amazing, particularly as a 180 degree departure from the Harry Dresden novels, which are also great. Butcher's "voice" changes between the two series, and it's not just the difference between first person and third person narration, you'd never guess the author of Dresden wrote the Codex if you read them both blind. That's an amazing talent. There's shedloads of splosions, aliens, traitors, conspiracies, magic, barbarians, world domination, battles to save the world from domination in a loosely based on the fall of the Roman empire if the empire was invaded by aliens kind've way, and ass kicking women of all stripes in the Game of Thrones mold. I can't recommend it enough :)

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted March 24, 2013

This sounds like the greatest novel ever written and I must away to purchase it right now.

MickH is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2013

mmm will have to try this. sounds great

line test1(NL)line test2 (shft NL)

Brian would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2013

Series has been around for about 7 years. Finished now. Enjoyable but not great. But I do enjoy Butchers sense of humour.

MickH mutters...

Posted March 24, 2013

oh good.

I'm over reading kick arse novel series that haven't been finished yet.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2013

Supposedly, Rothfuss revises for a long time, i.e. for years. He completed the first draft of the series yonks ago, as I understand it.

For those with an interest, here is a nice reply to a fan explaining his revision process.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2013

If elf count >1, I doubt I'll bother.

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

C'mon NBob. Spock has pointy ears too,

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2013

So do I buy this and listen to it alone on my daily commute to work or do I buy it and wait to listen with the family on this December's trip round NZ. Audio books are the best for a family holiday but me I'm selfish and I wants to listen now. Evil Spanner says listen now. Good Spanner says oh god please untie me Evil Spanner has me tied up and want you all to send money to 555xx345663

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2013

Listen now. It could easily carry a second listen.

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beeso mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2013

This book is good!

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

Ordered the paper version. Can't seem to do the audio book thingy.

Also, don't know about others but I enjoy lurking on the book club discussions and recommendations like this. Listening to you lot chat has put me on to some good authors I've previously passed by and am now enjoying greatly. If there are others like that, the book club may be better attended than it appears.

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beeso is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2013

Then Mr Beard, i recommend, heartily, The Rook.

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2013

Agree with the Mr GreyBeard - this has been a great place to add to the reading list. And my holiday break list is now complete.

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pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2013

I add my psuedo name to the choruses to the thanks for the heads up and the revews in general. You put me onto Wool and Scalzi both of which have been great if a little depressing in the case of Wool.

I reckon I'll be loading The Wind onto the Kindle and let my eldest boy devour it.

After me.

Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2013

Wool? What is this Wool? I must have missed it.

pitpat mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2013

Hugh Howey, was initally a series of short stories online only but I think he has got them put together as a book and as hard copy. The bugger is that he hasn't finished the series much like The Wind

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pitpat reckons...

Posted March 25, 2013

I'm pretty sure JB posted something on it last year although I do have a problem with memory recall and I am too lazy to look it up

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 26, 2013

it's prolly gone anyway, not everything made it over.

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Surtac mutters...

Posted March 25, 2013

I know I already have the paper version, but I'm using an audible credit to get the audio version for the kindle. 71% downloaded.

I'm between books at the moment, so it's a good time to try it ...

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Rhino mutters...

Posted March 25, 2013

Wool rocks. Very hard.

Will have to try this one. Amazing reviews on Amazon and some scathing 1 stars as well. Once more into the breach.

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BrianC mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2013

A voice of dissent appears. (With Minor Plot Spoilers for BKI & II)

So Patrick Rothfus... Yeah I'm not acutally a fan of these books. They are if im totally honest. Average. There is nothing here that grabs me and says LISTEN theres no hook. Even the magic which is usually enough to get me interested, so long as the system of magic is interesting and logical, which it is, just seems so... ordinary. When i read fantasy its to get flowing stories and wild mages and honorable paladins, its to be taken out of this world and placed in another. Rothfus's world just seems so... mundane. Especially the first book. I've read it twice now, the second time to see if i missed anything out... i didnt. Alot can be said for his writing style though that even though i didnt like the book i was able to read it a second time. The first book could have been sub-titled Kvothe Goes to College "The Spring Break Years" . If you have seen a revenge of the nerds movie you have seen this book. Kvothe finds out he has an enemy, gets accepted at school, has fun at school, seemingly forgets abotu enemy till conviently timed plot moment, then rallies against the enemy with hidden inner strength congratulations every one spring break

The second book does, to be fair, pick up the action and adventure somewhat and the introduction of the people of the sword was a welcome spritz of flavour and a further look into the more arcane aspects of sympathy.I've still read alot better.I'd consider you to be a better author infact.

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BrianC would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2013

Good Stuff I Have read recently

The Rook - Daniel O'Malley : Urban Fantasy a woman wakes up with no memory of who she is, and letter from herself to herself offering her the chance to figure out why she is like this and so probably die a grusome death, or take some money and run.

@DenimAlleyChild of Fire : Harry Connolly : Noir Urban Fantasy : Ray Lilly is in over his head, way over his head. He has no real powers, no real strength and he needs to kill a thing thats very existence erases whole people from reality as if they had never been. Ray isnt even the hereo of the story he just tells it, his Boss a sociopathic mage, witha burning hatred of these creatures is, and to top it all off she hates Ray and wants nothing more than to see him die.

Way of Kings : Brandon Sanderson : This is epic Fantasy, in more ways than one. At over a 1000 pages(in trade paper format) This novel is big. Capital B,I,G. Kaladin is, if any are, the main protag of this novel. The story picks up with him being sold as a slave soldier into a a useless war fought by the nobility for status and gem stones. Things only get worse for him from here.

BrianC would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2013

sorry if that is hard to read. blog seemed to drop all of my formating.

Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2013

Brian, did you know Dan O'Malley's a Canberran? I need to find out if we've roped him in for Conflux.

BrianC is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2013

Yeah, i met him a couple of times. We have alot of the same friends. Which i didnt know was a thing until he got famous

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DNABeast would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2013

Fixed. Break tags will no longer be formatted from the comments.

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2013

Testing, testing.

The boy stood on the burning deck.
Bloody idiot!

Test completed.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2013

Test successful.

Thanks to Dan.

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Tchor puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2013

Welcome to the dark side JB our cookies are awesome but they take 5 years to cook :(

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Shaymanbob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2013

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but is it purely coincidental that John recommends what GRRM has recently posted about the best "fantasy" authors around at the moment? I chose to read Joe Abercrombie first (I'm about halfway through his trilogy but find it difficult to read much because I'm also drinking Joe's whisky recommendations!) and Rothfuss second, with Scott Lynch and Daniel Abraham to follow. Who recommended Who first? Check out GRRM's Not a Blog.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted March 25, 2013

Ha, yeah it is purely coincidental. I thinkk we're just having a Rothfuss Moment. As I said in the piece above, I got this recomendation from Andy Inatkho on Macbreak Weekly. Although, having written that, when I checked the latest podcast, Leo Laporte was pimping it out. So maybe it was him. But I'm pretty sure it was Andy.

BrianC mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

Yeah. Id leave Rothfus to last if you are reading Abercrombie now. Definately read Scot Lynch's "Gentleman Bastards" as soon as you can. One of the best fantasy i have read in a long time. I'm just jonsing for his next one.

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Shaymanbob ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2013

Ha Ha John Birmingham, so there are even more involved in this conspiracy! Ok I'll read the lot. thank you BrianC, I'll take your advice.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 26, 2013

Yes, damn it. Yes there are.

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Legless has opinions thus...

Posted March 29, 2013

Bought both books. Read both books this week. My work productivity hit an all time low.

Blown away by these books and can't wait for the third on.

Thanks for the steer John.

Cheers

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Respond to 'The Name of the Wind'

Best worst book covers ever

Posted March 21, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

Flavorwire has an amusing bit on the worst covers for classic works of literature ever. Some were very droll, like the Brazilan cover of The Shining which looked like it had been lifted from a 1980s hair care advert (blonde woman, power hair, shoulder pads, absolutely nothing about psychic kids or haunted htoels or nothing). Some were just doomed by the poor typology and design aesthetics of the 1970s, the Time that Taste Forgot.

My personal personal fave for balls to wall inappropriate craziness however was this Wizard of Oz cover, fetchingly reimagined as a Clancyesque technothriller.

I particularly like it because there's no language gap to explain how the cover artist got it so horribly wrong. The Shining at least had a sort of thematic link to hair care through the, er, shiny thing. Which hair care ads value very highly.

Normally publishers will send you copies of the art work to approve before printing, and normally unless you're a dick you'll just let any small, inexplicable quirkiness (like the bizarro helicopter on the US cover of Final Impact) go through to the keeper, unless it's completely out of hand.

Like the cover of Felafel in Italy.

I dont recall ever seeing prerelease artwork for this, and Im sort of glad I didn't. It's now one of my favorite covers, and I cherish the two remaining copies in my possession. What is that car. Why is it parked on an alien beach planet. Is the felafel guy in the boot.

None of these questions were ever answered. But that's cool. Because none of my royalties ever turned up either. Despite the book being a best seller there.

Alora.

18 Responses to ‘Best worst book covers ever’

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2013

I could be wrong, but I think its a Lincoln Continental. Horrible, ugly, oversized pieces of shite. Fun fact: they can engage reverse all by themselves, if left parked and running. As my father found out when the one he had just repaired decided to back itself into our front fence and knock it over....

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Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2013

Almost *nothing* will get bookish women of a certain age angrier than giving Anne of Green Gables blonde hair on a low-rent book cover.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/08/anne-green-gables-blonde-red-hair

insomniac puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2013

yes, but it might encourage a few more readers of the male persuasion

Blindwilly swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2013

As a ginger I was rather upset that another blonde had muscled in on our turf, but as a bloke, well, I was less upset when I saw the cover...

Quokka mutters...

Posted March 21, 2013

Plaid.

Urk. Where the FK did that come from?

JG ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2013

Preposterous. Anne of Green Gables has to have red hair. It's one of the reasons I loved the books as a youngster. How dare they make her blonde on that trashy book cover!!

sapphyre has opinions thus...

Posted March 22, 2013

In complete agreement with @Lulu and @Indigo :)

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2013

I was a big fan of the Terran Trade Authority books - which were reprints of older SF covers. Anyway someone put this together - which is great if you remember the TTA.

http://vimeo.com/29549708#

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2013

Ah, Anakin Schwarzenegger. I remember him.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2013

ANGELS of FKN Vengeance..NO FKN B52 or Pilot on the fkn cover!.....fkn lame as is ya ask me!

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Lobes mutters...

Posted March 21, 2013

Hah! What a pathetic bunch of covers. I judge those books - unreadable.

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2013

I've considered myself very lucky with my covers - excellent artists and on-the-ball editors who made sure the details were right. Plus, eyeing a fellow author's covers and thinking "man, I'd love a cover from that artist one day" and finding out soon after that she was the one doing my next one... Clearly I was highly virtuous in a previous life.

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Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2013

Combination of incompetance and corruption - yup sounds like Italy.

But the same country produces great food and wine plus Ferraris. Go figure, as they say.

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Boscolamb has opinions thus...

Posted March 22, 2013

John, How does an author/artist keep track of his royalties from items published in other countries? How does one know that they're not shorting him, if they bother forwarding royalties at all? Is there anyway for you to track all of this?

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted March 22, 2013

Agents do that, Bosco. Not authors. Our special power is writing books, not keeping them.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted March 22, 2013

That cover for "The Turn of the Screw" was especially annoying - not only do they use a particularly blunt literal "metaphor", they also get it wrong and use a nut (which goes with a bolt, not a screw). Very galling to the practical engineering pedant in me :)

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted March 22, 2013

I don't understand the problem with the Great Gatsby cover. It could be Nick and Daisy. The male, wary and turning away. Not bad.

The original cover of Gatsby was a classic horrible/brilliant cover. Refer to the wikipedia article on the Great Gatsby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby . Includes a photo of the original cover and an interesting few paragraphs about it under 'Original cover art'.

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Anthony Beevor's The Second World War

Posted November 5, 2012 into Books by John Birmingham

A couple of months back I picked up a subscription to Audible, partly thanks to Clive James, and partly to Leo Laporte. Clive had just been diagnosed as dead or dying and in an elegiac frame of mind I thought it might be nice to grab his memoirs. Leo is forever pimping out Audible on his podcasts, which wouldn't normally influenced me except that he and Andy Ihnatko seemed to genuinely love audio books. Moko too.

I'd always thought that audiobooks, including my own, were prohibitively expensive compared to hard copy or e-book formats, but an Audible subscription effectively gives you one free book each month, which is about all I have time for, so in I jumped. I think I've discussed how much I enjoyed Clive James' memoirs before. Therbs even caught me wandering through Sydney one day, chuckling at them inside my headphones. I particularly enjoyed fact that they were narrated by Clive. Put me right back in my childhood, it did, listening to his voice. I'm glad I will now always have them. (Unless Amazon, which owns Audible, decides arbitrarily to delete them from my system).

The next book I got was also a memoir, this time by Stephen Fry. Again, the experience of listening to the book was amplified, so to speak, by having Fry himself narrate it. He's a polished performer and I can't think of anybody more suited to telling his own story. I made my way through that book while we were on holiday down in Byron Bay.

For my next title, however, I decided to go with something other than a memoir. Anthony Beevor's The Second World War. Beevor came to prominence after my huge research binge on World War II for Weapons of Choice, so although I was aware of him – he was hugely popular talent at a couple of festivals I attended – I'd never dipped into his work. All of his books are massively and exhaustively researched, and they tend to run long. I didn't feel that I had the time.

Enter Audible. A lot of people get into audiobooks during their daily commute. That's not an issue for me, because I work at home, but I do have long stretches of time each week that could be put to better use. Walking the dog, watching kids sport, some forms of exercise. I sometimes listen to podcasts, but increasingly found myself drawn to audiobooks after the experience with James and Fry. Beevor's war history has had some great reviews, like all of his books, and it promised to be the sort of thing that would deliver a lot of value for money. I think there's something like 20 or 30 hours worth of listening.

So, bought it, loved it. Or am still loving it because at the moment I am only up to the battle of Alamein. He's a great writer, of course, with a strong clear voice. He doesn't make the mistake of letting the writing gets in the way of the story, and 1939-45 did serve up some great stories. There are any number of reasons to love this book, but two stand out for me. Firstly he doesn't allow any one nation to hijack the story. Everybody gets a look in, from the USA and the USSR down to New Zealand and Romania. All of his reporting of Australian war history has so far been so accurate that I'm willing to credit him with commensurate accuracy about everything else. Second, when telling such a vast story it can be tempting to get caught up in the great sweep of events, while skating over the little details. Longtime readers of Anthony Beevor will know one of his strengths is painting a grand canvas with small flourishes. From the woebegone tale of the Korean man which opens the book – this poor bastard ended up fighting in almost every theater of the war – to the gruesome details of daily life on the Eastern front, the granular detail of history is never lost in the broad brush strokes.

If you're looking for some slightly heavier summer reading, or listening, I couldn't recommend it highly enough. I'd be tempted to set it as a book club title, but it is very long, and I suspect it would drive away a lot of people who have no interest in this sort of thing.

17 Responses to ‘Anthony Beevor's The Second World War’

Spanner reckons...

Posted November 6, 2012
I have commute time to burn. Speak to me more of this audible.com feature. Me have credit card and wants to listen to stuff.

Oh and where is me next ebook? Ug Spanner want more Stalin hammer.

Me should haul self off to bed. Red wine is bad even when have cup day off. Ug.

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Spanner puts forth...

Posted November 6, 2012
On a less drunken note.

I consider audio books (unabridged) pretty good value for money. I can read way quicker than someone can read it too me. So 40-50 hours of audio is not bad value per hour of enjoyment in the car. I'll pay for a good book with a good narrator and be very happy with it.

Oh yeah ug.

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted November 6, 2012
When I speak to my mate in the Kimberley, he often mentions an audio book he has recently listened to. He loves them and got into them because it is quite standard practice in the Kimberley where 8 to 10 hour drives are normal. He said to me, if I doubt how popular they are up there, all I would need to do was wander into the Broome public library and see the size of the audio book collection.

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Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted November 6, 2012
Maybe I should give audio books more thought, what with ipods and all those other new fangled gizmos. And the fact that all my reading has left me needing glasses *sigh*.

But it's a slippery slope - next I'll be wanting those godless electric lights.

Explodey goodness is all very well, but maybe there's too much emphasis on that and not enough on the enormous strides made in peace - every school leaver here has heard of the Battle of Britain but how many know about the Great Reform Act?

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted November 6, 2012
Oh and love me some Clive James, familiar fixture of my childhood too! I read his Unreliable Memoirs books - 'cos my my mum said it was full of filth.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted November 6, 2012
Oh that's gotta p!ss you off.

20 minutes of response evapamorated.

Will try again @ lunch.

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Surtac reckons...

Posted November 6, 2012
Yeah, got into audiobooks in the car a few years back when I had a twice daily 45 min school run / commute combo with Youngest Daughter. Lots of Pratchett Discworld stuff, Simon R Green's Deathstalker series, but also Cornwell's Sharpe and all of the Fleming James Bond titles. And she became quite addicted to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, particularly the epic Fall of the Roman Republic series.

Sadly, I 'm back to a 15 min commute now and it just isn't long enough to get right into this stuff anymore. But maybe I should try again ...

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Suetonius is gonna tell you...

Posted November 6, 2012
Beevor's book on Stalingrad is particularly good. I read it a few years ago. It's a meticulous and very well written history - but it's more than that. I thought I knew all I needed to know about Stalingrad and the war on the eastern front. But Beevor not only kept me interested and reading, he made me think about the conflict, and by extension the whole history of the twentieth century, in a new way.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted November 6, 2012
I'm listening to the Stalingrad sections of The Second World War now. Fucking harrowing. we naturally focus on the conflict in western Europe when thinking about the history of the war, but the bulk of the fighting was done in Russia and China.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted November 6, 2012
Love the story about the Stalingrad Grain Research Centre, who died of hunger rather than harm the science of wheat & barely breeding by eating their samples. Commitment to the science with a capital Comm.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted November 6, 2012
I’m not a big consumer of audio-books. My Dad eats them up due to post-stroke partial-blindness. Recently mum has been looking into downloads as previously they were largely dependent on borrowing from the local library which was good, but frequently the CDs were scratched in the worst possible place, like when Poirot says “Ze murderer can only be schrttzzzzdk dk dk dk dk dk.”

I feel a little like some slightly soiled and smelly manic priest wandering the world, grabbing strangers by the arm and urging them to find salvation in The Pod-Cast. It is starting to embarrass SWMBO when at a dinner party I insist everybody must “Reject their Classic-Rock FM ways“ cast off their “Icy cold cans of coke, nasal delivery technology and another nonstop block of Oz cock-rock with Farnsey, Barnsey and Chisel” embrace the love, the warmth , the community that is Pod Casting. The spittle flecked ranting and the bulging Marty Feldman eyes may be disconcerting but the grabby talons just seem to put people off.

So let me say in my calmest, most reasonable voice.

Podcasts are good.

‘This American Life’ is really good, in fact most things by National Public Radio are AWSM.

‘Conversations with [that nice young] Mr Fidler’ is really Fkn AWSM. I’d recommend you start with Richard de Crespigny. Pilot of that QANTAS A380 out of Singapore which experienced not a massive engine explosion but the “Unconstrained liberation of disc elements.”

Dr Karl is a personal god of mine, he has his own Podcast series, popped into [that nice young] Mr Fidler to discuss the current thinking on how Everything came to be, and pats SE2KB on the head like an endearing, but clumsy puppy.

I know Dan lurks here and will be Jonesing to hear it so; RESTEPC for a neat little Indy Podcast out of Brisbanistan ‘Smart Enough to Know Better.

ABC Radio National, the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Comission and USAnian National Public Radio all put beautiful crafted stories. Some of the independents are just Ranty Mc Rant with a head ful of coke and bad opinions. Part of the fun is listening to a couple of episodes and seing what they do. EG: JB put me on to ‘The Incomparable’ the other day. The first ep I listened to was an hour long discussion of Game of Thrones [Snore-a-rama for someone not into the show] but the next ep was an entertaining discussion of SciFi in SitCom – sort of. Pretty Good.

’Best of all.

Rumours abound in the darker corners of the Intermaweb that *drumroll* Birmo San may be considering, a side line into podcasting. To apply a little Dr Yobbo style tempered hyperbole, I think this is an even better idea than eating meat.

You can quote me, I can see it on the packaging “NBob says “A Birmo Podcast is a better idea than eating meat.” A big claim I know, but hear me out.

His Scribeyness has a good voice. Not what you’d call a classically trained voice, but his adnoids have dropped and his momma smacked him upside the head and made him pick up each and every dropped H. He has diction and clarity. He doesn’t race through a presentation jamming the ideas and words up like an Indy car smash.

He also has the Journo’s skill of extracting story. Most everyone over the age of 40 has a story in them, Birmo can apply the long nosed pliers and bic lighter to extract that story.

He has access to an army of multi skilled GE’d monkeys who could be easily be taken off the typewriters and trained to manipulate basic sound editing software.

I’d vote for the first series of 5 to be 1 hour eps that combine Diggers in the RSL front bar telling personal Xplodey Goodness stories, edited with a historian’s overview of a campaign. We all think we know the story of the Owen Stanley Ranges, or the HMAS Sydney, but how much do we really know, how much could we know - if we could hear the voice of the men who were there. These diggers are dropping off the twig 19 to the dozen. Someone with skill, interest, some knowledge, respect, sensitivity and less hair than them should save their stories before they are lost forever.

And I reckon it'll make him another $quillion.

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted November 6, 2012
Epic post from Nbob there, red bull really works don't it?

Really bJB? You gonna invite us kiddies to settle down at your feet by the fireside as you open a huge leather bound tome?

I guess the popularity of audiobooks is linked to living on an epic size continent, here in Britain we're more of a brief trailer kind of size.

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Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted November 7, 2012
Oh Uncle JB,

Do, do tell us a story, Pleeeeaase Uncle JB tell us a story !

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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted November 7, 2012
I've had an audible subscription continuously since 1999. It's farking awesome (and my library is pretty huge at this point). I've gone through more devices than I can count, but audible always seems to follow me.

Stalingrad is a very good book. I read it between my first and second visits to the city and it provides a lot of context for Russian paranoia. Stalingrad was the meat grinder and people in Volgograd today are still digging up bits and pieces from that battle.

(the war museum there is definitely worth the visit if you find yourself in the area, as is the shrine under Mamayev Kurgan)

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted November 7, 2012
JB, Have you considered 'Weapons of Choice', the audio book series, as read by Havock?

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KathB mutters...

Posted November 7, 2012
Love Audible. I listen while cleaning - it's the only thing that makes it remotely bearable. There's some great old-school Doctor Who on there too.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 7, 2012
Cool! I also listen while cleaning. Especially mopping for some reason.

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Respond to 'Anthony Beevor's The Second World War'