Tag: Rails

Woody Guthrie – Bound for Glory | Review

Title: Bound for Glory

Author: Woody Guthrie

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 320

Rating: 4*/5

 

Woody Guthrie - Bound for Glory

Woody Guthrie – Bound for Glory

 

I have mixed feelings about this book, but I think that’s largely because it’s a bit of a beast if you’re not properly psyched up for it. It takes time and concentration to get through it and feels like too much of a chore to be a 5/5, but it’s still culturally significant. In fact, it’s even a lot of fun from time to time, and it’s impressive how Guthrie is able to capture the vernacular – and the lifestyle – at the time.

For a book that’s about a musician, there isn’t a huge amount of information here about Guthrie’s early musical career, but that’s okay. We still get to see him travelling around with his guitar and playing songs to the folks he met along the way. In many ways, that’s the point – this isn’t a ‘coming-of-age’ kind of story but rather the non-fiction equivalent of the fabled great American novel.

It’s also interesting to some of the themes that followed Guthrie throughout his life, of which fire is probably the most prominent. In fact, he lost several houses as a kid and spent a lot of time on the move, which is probably why he grew up to live a life on the rails. Say what you want about Guthrie, the man was a real character – and I can see why Bob Dylan used to re-read this book over and over again.

Ultimately, then, this book isn’t for everyone – but if you’re a big fan of either Guthrie or the folk music that he influenced, you’ll definitely enjoy this. But you’ll also enjoy it if you’re interested in America during the 1930s1950s. Guthrie’s writing is as evocative as any novelist’s, which means you can almost taste the dust and smell the sweat of the men in the taverns.

 

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie

 

Click here to buy Bound for Glory.

 


Terry Pratchett – Raising Steam | Review

Title: Raising Steam

Author: Terry Pratchett

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 480

Rating: 4*/5

 

Terry Pratchett - Raising Steam

Terry Pratchett – Raising Steam

 

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, but I’ve also been putting it off. It’s one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, and because I’ve already read over sixty of his books, I’m very aware that there aren’t many more for me to work through. And now that he’s dead (I cried when I heard), there won’t be any new ones.

That’s why, when I started reading it, it felt like scratching an itch, or bumping into an old friend in a place where you wouldn’t expect it. Pratchett is on form in this book, and it’s impressive because there are so many of his regulars along for the ride, from Sam Vimes and Vetinari to Moist Von Lipwig and Sir Harry King. Those names won’t mean much to you if you haven’t read a Discworld book before, but it’s still a good read even if you’re new to Pratchett’s work. He does a great job of somehow writing standalones that also work as the latest instalment of an epic series.

In this book, the steam train comes to the Discworld, and Pratchett is able to put his typical spin on things and to look at the development of the railway in a new way. The denizens of the Disc need to find a way to develop the rails, but without the benefit of the technology that we were able to make use of here in Roundworld. Luckily, the Disc is home to such creatures as goblins, golems, trolls and dwarves, and the funny thing about the railway is that – like the clacks before it – is just seems destined to happen. It’s a technological advancement that could change the Disc for the better, for every race that calls it home.

 

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

 

Of course, there are others who don’t want to see it happen, and so the development of the railway is plagued by sabotage attempts from the grags, the deep down dwarves who don’t want the world to change. And then there’s the patrician, Lord Vetinari, who wants the railway to succeed at all costs. Somewhere in the middle, we have former conman Moist Von Lipwig, who’s now in charge of the Ankh-Morpork bank and its postal service and who’s given the task of making sure that the train system succeeds. He doesn’t get much choice about it – he knows what the patrician will do if he fails him. It involves kittens.

Overall then, this is one of the better Discworld novels, and I’m definitely glad that I read it. You’d still want to start earlier on in the series before working your way up to this one, though. This is the Discwoirld’s swan song, and I like how it points to a future where technology and magic live side by side.

 

Terry Pratchett on the difference between erotic and kinky...

Terry Pratchett on the difference between erotic and kinky…

 

Click here to buy Raising Steam.

 


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