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January Book Reviews

Going for tenuous relevance to the text here...

A City Under a City: Washington's Metro

January was a busy month: getting settled into a new mode of working and chasing down leads for actual work. Add into that an effort to be sociable, healthy and productive in the middle of winter, and somehow books got left by the wayside. Accordingly, only two reviews this time around. Film reviews, as promised, have been shunted off into the twittersphere, visible to the right, while my thoughts on games are still forthcoming. (Yes, it’s all a grand delay, but work is in progress…)

Born to Run, Christopher McDougall: The somewhat crazy world of ultrarunners, for whom marathons are nothing but a warm up, is the subject of this occasionally hyperbolic but very readable book. McDougall structures his tale around a search for the semi-mythical Tarahumara tribe of Native Americans, who ran their way into obscurity in Mexico, and an attempt to set up the ultimate race between them and the best that the running world has to offer, but a huge chunk of the fun comes from the digressions into the strange characters who populate this world. Occasionally it all seems a bit too weird to be non-fiction, but it’s enough fun that it might even encourage some readers to take up running (if not ultrarunning, admittedly).

The City and the City, China Miéville: On the surface, this is a Kafka- and Orwell-infused detective novel set in two intertwined cities, but at its heart, it’s about the power of the human mind and society to create and bind us to a particular reality. At the outset, language is used as a distancing device, with odd phrasings dragging readers out of their comfort zone, but it seems that the author abandons this device further in, perhaps to give those readers a feeling of acclimatising themselves. Like a lot of Miéville’s work, it’s more interesting than engaging, but if the ideas herein appeal to you and you prefer your reality tinged with weirdness, rather than fantasy, you might find it worth exploring.

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