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About Ketman

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  1. Three Len Deighton series. The first is from the '60s: The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, Horse Under Water, The Billion Dollar Brain. From the '80s there is the first "Bernard Samson" trilogy, Game, Set and Match. This was followed by a second trilogy, Hook, Line and Sinker.
  2. Payment Deferred - by C.S. Forester. Published in 1926. Not one of his naval stories. A tale that reminds us that many crimes are committed by very ordinary people, and tells us how the consequences of those crimes begin in small ways and then mount up and mount up... It's a story that grips from start to finish.
  3. James Bond

    I read all the Bond books at age 18, except Octopussy, which hadn't been published yet. I read them over and over for about two years. Probably as a result of that I suffered an allergic reaction, and didn't touch a Bond book again until quite recently when I saw an old copy of From Russia With Love in a charity shop. Naturally, you can't expect to get the same enjoyment as you had when you were younger, but I was quite surprised. It was better than I thought it was going to be. I've made a mental note to re-read more of them. In the meantime, I've found this conversation between Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler in the BBC archives. Definitely worth a listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/james_bond/12601.shtml
  4. Greetings

    Thanks, frankie, chesilbeach and vodkafan. It's some years since I last read Down and Out. I do remember it put me off eating in restaurants for quite a while. Caesar's commentaries are very concise and unemotional. Dispatches from the front. He talks about himself in the third person singular - Caesar did this, Caesar did that. Some modern scholars think the death toll from his campaigns in Gaul might have run into the millions. But you'd never know that from his matter-of-fact narrative. Worth a read, but be sceptical. There was no one in Rome in a position to contradict him on anything. As for those on the spot, who could have done, it's a case of "what goes on tour stays on tour".
  5. Speech in Historical Fiction

    The fact that you find historical fiction easier to read than authentic writing of the time shows that the writers of historical fiction are playing a trick on you. But in a good way. They have the skill of using only modern language to give an impression of authenticity. Some are better at it than others, but the important thing is not so much using authentic language as not using language that is too obviously modern. It's a very delicate balance, but at its best it's something that is done so subtly that you don't even notice it. It means the reader is not distracted by the language and does what the writer wants, which is to give all their attention to the story.
  6. Computer Help Thread

    I don't know if this is a computer question. On Amazon they have a facility whereby you can get email alerts if someone posts in the comments thread of a particular review. I was wondering if there was something similar for being notified of new reviews of a particular book title. Such a button (?) might exist, but just not show up on my screen (Linux, Firefox). Anyone know?
  7. Ever mistaken a real word for a typo?

    I used to be quite good at spelling, but since I started using the internet almost everything I write looks wrong to me. I've seen things like "definatly" and "deteriate" and "copywrite" and "supercede" so many times it's scrambled my brain cells. Nowadays I can't even write "wouldn't" without wondering if I've put the apostrophe in the right place.
  8. Greetings

    I don't read much in the way of new books. I've always been years behind with my reading. I've just finished Barabara Tuchman's The Guns of August (1962) and How Charles Bravo Died by Yseult Bridges (1956). Now I'm on The Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar (c.50 BC). See what I mean? I used to read a lot of fiction, but these days more non-fiction. History mostly. But back in the day I read all Graham Greene's novels, some of them two or three times, and everything George Orwell ever wrote, fiction or non-fiction. So, hello. ^Not knowing how to spell "Barbara" is the least of the ways I show myself to be unfit for literature.
  9. The best spy novels are a few decades old now, so they're all bound to be dated. But then I suppose Shakespeare is dated. John Le Carre, Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Len Deighton are all high quality, as are Somerset Maugham's Ashenden stories. Though if you're looking for thrills and spills, Maugham is not your man. His work is very character-based. I wouldn't class Ian Fleming's novels as spy novels: they're too far removed from reality to count as that. But as stylish action thrillers, if you can get past his worst excesses, they can keep you reading.