Gosh, Five days in and I’m already a day behind. I suck.

A book review, today. Or, rather, the circumstances behind the book review.

Every so often, I do something that I can foresee is going to be a bad idea, and yet do it anyway for some things just must be done. Kiss the girl, quit the job, drink the shot, fail the exam. All these things are important.

So, on the 5th of October I walked into a bookshop in Islington. I’m really bad at timely reviews.

I’m really bad at bookshops, too. I’m equally bad at art shops, which is the shop I’d just walked out of before I walked into Waterstones, but mostly I don’t have a reason to go into art shops. However, in this case Neal Stephenson had a book out, and so did Terry Pratchett, so I had to buy them. And I was pretty good, in that I only came out with twice as many books as I went in for. It would have been just one over, but I ran into an author.

If you do a web search for Stephen Benatar you will find this is something he does quite often, taking a stock of books into a local Waterstones and approaching random shoppers with his very polite, very English “I’m signing copies of my book here today, and wondered if you might take a look”, at which point I was pretty much doomed to buy it. Putting a book down requires finding out where it came from (librarian training in action), and besides, it’s a book. You don’t put down books you haven’t read. It would be wrong. The book in question is Recovery, and it’s a collection of two novellas about memory, complete with unreliable narrators and other such things. I found the book to be tremendously readable – of the two stories, I prefer the first, where a recent amnesiac attempts to track down his identity with the help of a local private detective, increasingly finding it linked back to the period in 1948 that the narrative keeps flipping back to. A well crafted plot with a finale that teeters on the edge of explanation – this is not a story for people who like their narrative to end complete and with a pretty pink bow – wonderfully smooth flowing. I’d recommend that if you like this kind of thing, you should buy this kind of thing. I’ll be tracking down more of the author’s works.

I still haven’t started the mammoth task of the new Stephenson book, though.